Did you know that some researchers believe that the average person has anywhere from 50,000- 70,000 thoughts in a single day?
This is about 35-48 thoughts in a single minute. Hold on for a second and think about that.
Now, do you realize how insane this is?
We humans think that much in one single day of our lives. We obsessively think about other’s approval of us, our appearance, the direction of our lives, our friendships and relationships, the tasks we have ahead of us to complete, and thousands of other things. In one single day. 50,000-70,000 thoughts. If you ask me, this is amazing and insane; however, personally I feel like sometimes all of these thoughts affect our ability to focus. All of these thoughts clog our mind at one time. Unwinding after the day comes to a close with all of those thoughts on your mind can be a challenge, and an overwhelming one too.
This first full week back at school was overall a very good week for me, but I was on sensory overload from Tuesday morning until Thursday afternoon. Walking into each class, teachers pressed stress upon every student. Being back with my friends for the first time since December was strange, but in a way exciting. Planning the rest of the semester until graduation is also exciting, but bittersweet and everyone is talking about graduation. My future is calling, as it always seems to be. God is calling me, too. School is already demanding so much in just the first week back. There were just so many thoughts jammed into this week and on Thursday, it finally caught up to me.
I have such a mountain yet to climb this semester and right now it feels as though I am stuck in a valley. Sometimes this grates at my nerves and it was grating at me on Thursday night.
I had just grabbed coffee with my best friend, Savannah. I was leaving Dunkin Donuts and my head felt so clouded. I longed for some time to get away and clear all the thoughts from my overloaded head. So, after arriving home, I changed clothes and wandered around the golf course in my neighborhood. Wherever my feet took me is where I went. In a moment of walking, I stopped and suddenly, I had words flowing out of me like a waterfall flows down rocks. I pulled out Notes on my phone, sat down dead in my tracks, and I wrote:
“Here, I sit in a state of clearing my head. I sit deep into a valley, looking up at a hill, while dusk falls upon me. I am listening to the sound of the birds shaking the trees and the wildlife meandering on the ground. I escaped my house, searching for some time to think and some time to focus. I am watching as dusk turns to night and all the colors of the sky collide together; God paints His final masterpiece in the sky for the day.
I am writing from the heart. I continue to watch as the sky turns into a beautiful watercolor masterpiece, painted with deep blues, spotted with dark grays, and highlighted with orange. I am watching with my eyes.
The sky is beautifully painted. The trees have lost all their leaves, deep into a winter’s wind, and while that seems lifeless, there is so much promise in those leafless trees- those trees with dull brown bark. The birds soar high into the darkened, yet illuminated sky. The air is crisp and I sit here in the middle of a seemingly empty, but yet excessively full moment.
How can this be? Why am I being flooded with all of these thoughts all at once, Lord?
Here, I sit in the valley.
I look out and I see.
I look up and I see. I look up to You and I ask, why? Why have you lead me here, to this place? I look out yet again at the watercolor sky, fading into a still and limitless darkness. Thoughts continue to flood my mind as I stare. I think, “what is there to see here, Lord? Why have my feet lead me to where I now sit?” Then, a reply. He said, “my child, do not dismay. While there seems like there's nothing to see in this gloomy sky tonight on this valley, there's everything to see.” And then, peace. It fell upon me.”
I feel as though it becomes so easy for us to get utterly frustrated with God when we are stuck in the valley, yet to climb the mountain. We do this because our thoughts are so powerful. As humans, our thoughts have the ability to sway and change our beliefs, opinions, interests, and ideas. There are so many of them in one day that it would be impossible for them to not bear weight upon you. While they have the power to convince us of the best, they also have the power to convince us of the worst. This can happen when we feel as though we are stuck and stagnant in our faith. When we are in the valley, yet to climb the mountain, it becomes easy for us to question God. It becomes easy for us to believe that there isn’t anything worth seeing from where we stand.
But I have to ask you something: how do you know that God is not going to reveal something amazing to you in the valley that seems so gloom and fruitless? And for that matter, why do we always think that we have to be at the top of the mountain to truly understand God's purpose for our lives? This manner of thinking is entirely false. Do you know why?
Because, we can find the purpose for our lives with God. We can find it when we were standing next to him in the most confusing and fruitless valley that we have stood in, in our entire lives.
I think there's something to be passionate about when you are in the valley of your life, just waiting to climb the mountain. We can be passionate about this, because we have the opportunity to trust that God is right beside us. We also have the opportunity to trust that He is crafting plans that are for us.
We have to remember that even in our valleys, God is right there with us and no matter what, He is going to get us to the top of the mountain we have yet to climb. And when we get to the top of the mountain, if his promise and purpose is not quite clear yet, keep climbing and remain as faithful as you can.
If God brings you back to the valley without His purpose being clear, do not get frustrated.
Refuse frustration and keep trusting. Don't give in to the thoughts that you are not worthy enough and that you're never going to get to a clear place.
Don't get stuck in the mindset of “there's nothing to see in this valley. Don't think that all there is is fruitlessness.
Why? Because there is Light standing right next to you. He promises greater things for His people in Deuteronomy.
God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.
Deuteronomy 31:8 (MSG)
You just have to open your eyes. Look out from that valley. While you may not see anything, God promises that there is everything to see in that valley. I know that mountains have a better view because you can see everything clearly from the top, but God never promised life to always have a view as clear as standing at the top of a mountain.
In the picture I took while I was sitting in that valley there's not a whole lot to look at. It wasn’t the prettiest sunset I had ever seen in my life, but God tells me I must find something when it feels there is nothing. He says that even in the valley, we have to find something to give us joy, something to give us hope, and something to give us peace.
You can continue to hold on in the valley and God can help you see something beautiful in it.
Do not stop trying.
Find something beautiful to see in your valley and God will give you all the hope and peace in the world to climb up that mountain.
“Butterflies are nature’s tragic heros. They life most of their lives being completely ordinary. And then, one day, the unexpected happens. They burst from their cocoons in a blaze of colors and become utterly extraordinary. It is the shortest phase of their lives, but it hold the greatest importance. It shows us how empowering change can be.” -Kelseyleigh Reber
Encouragement is a hard thing to tackle, but what if there was a way to break it down? Encouragement just becomes simpler when looked at through the lenses of faith.