How about some hope? If you follow me on Facebook, you may recall seeing some pictures of my promotion ceremony to Lieutenant Colonel. As you might imagine, it was a joyous occasion. I was truly honored to have been given the opportunity to serve my country with greater influence. If my dad was still around he would have loved sharing in the celebration, for we had several discussions about it over the years.
But what you may not know is that the road to get there was not an easy one. It was filled with a lot of emotional pain and struggle. I was passed over twice, meaning I was told by a panel of senior Army leaders that I would not be promoted to the next rank. To make this more real, typically if this happens, your career and prospects of advancing are all but over.
You see, I had put in an enormous amount of time and effort to progress but I kept hearing “no.” I always considered myself a pretty high achiever, so the thought of being told no twice was very humbling, to say the least. To make matters worse, while I was being told no, I was comparing myself to those being told yes. This made me angrier. Several so-called “experts” told me that my chances of ever making Lieutenant Colonel were highly unlikely. I questioned myself, my faith and the Army.
But the truth is that God had a higher purpose at work. I just didn’t see it yet. I was so consumed with what I wasn’t getting that it was actually preparing me for what I would get in the future. Isn’t that true with all of us? We don’t get the promotion we want, we are let go from our job, our business fails, our marriage struggles, or our kids make bad decisions, and we are left to pick up the pieces. We immediately go to thoughts of, “I guess this is just how my life is going to be,” or “why do these things keep happening to me?” And sometimes we wrestle with wondering where God is in all of this.
Let me just say that I have learned that being told no and falling down (so to speak) every once in awhile is actually a GIFT. I would not be the person and leader I am today without going through what I did. You see, if I didn’t get a few no’s along the way, I wouldn’t fully understand the importance of having to persevere and give it all you’ve got despite the odds and negative voices. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be reminded that to be better at something, you can’t just show up; you have to be prepared. (For me, that meant I had to really learn how to trust God and see that He was working things out behind the scenes for my good.) And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see that for my hopes and dreams to come true, it was necessary to go through a valley to be reminded of what’s really important.
If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing.
If you too are in the midst of something really difficult, know that God is on your side and He is preparing you and working things out behind the scenes for your good. To get to the yes’s we want in life, we have to be willing to go through a few no’s now and then. It’s not easy, but it is necessary. Remember, it’s not really the destination, but the process that is most important. Life is really about who you are becoming. Don’t lose hope: your “valley” experience is actually preparing you for your mountaintop destination.