Build on High Ground (Noah’s Ark Wisdom Part 6)

Build on High Ground (Noah’s Ark Wisdom Part 6)

Everything you ever need to know can be learned from Noah’s ark…

1.  Don’t miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all on the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone might come along and ask you to do something really big.
5. Don’t listen to critics; Just get on with the job that needs to be done.

6.  Build your future on high ground.

The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.  -Helen Keller

I’ll be honest… #6 here has been hard for me to write.  I started this blog entry weeks and weeks ago (January 19th to be exact) and never got beyond listing the first 6 items on the screen… then I’d just sit here and stare at #6:  Build your future on higher ground trying to come up with some witty, yet meaningful piece of insight or wisdom to share.  But each time, I’d end up hitting “save draft” and tell myself that I’ll just come back to it later.  Later has come and gone and still sitting in my draft box was this entry.  I don’t have any witty, yet meaningful piece of insight or wisdom to share as of yet, but I’m going to start writing because I have come to the conclusion that the “WordPress Draft Fairy” has clearly gone AWOL (and normally I’d be a bit more concerned for said fairy, but right now I gotta focus on this entry or else!!).

In high school, I hated to be labeled (and truth be told, I’ve never really grown a fondness for labels, but I’ve learned to accept that our society feels better when it can “safely” classify something or someone):  nerd, teacher’s pet, goodie-two-shoes, foster child… the list goes on and on.  The various labels – some good and some bad – all placed expectations on me which I found to be quite overwhelming at times.  People had preconceived ideas of what a nerd was or teacher’s pet or foster child, and they treated me accordingly.  Sometimes I could use those preconceived ideas to my advantage, and sometimes I couldn’t, but in the end, I always felt suffocated by them.

I think that what bothers me the most about labels is how easy it is to start believing in them.  And in my experience, once you start to believe in something, it’s not long before you start to act on that belief.  Like I said, some of the labels were “good” or harmless… I mean, what ill-will is being wished on someone who is labeled “most likely to succeed”?  But, what happens when the person who received that label begins to believe that and then finds themselves falling short of “success”?  It can be devastating – far more devastating than the actual failure – when you realize that you cannot live up to the label that you’ve come to know as your identity.

And that’s just an example of when someone is given a “good” label… what about the bad ones?  Trouble maker, loser, apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… What happens when the expectations of others and the ones you’ve come to have for yourself are so low that you find yourself always able to live up to them but never able to climb any higher?  Never believing that you could climb any higher?

Talk about a catch 22 and/or a double edged sword.  (Are you seeing why I had/have such a hard time with good ol’ #6 here??)

Most of my life (and by most, I mean every single moment of every single day), I’ve struggled with what I hope to be true, what I know to be true, and what I worry could be true about myself.  Sometimes it’s hard not to fall back into a belief system that was built and established while I was in the valleys of my life.  I’ve seen what happens when people – my own family members – cannot see beyond the valleys.  I’ve watched as they became so embittered by the mountains surrounding them that they began to blame the mountains for their miserable existence there in the valley… it was the mountains that held them back and kept them separated from what they felt was surely a better future.

I watched, learned, and could have easily become just like them but every now and then someone would encourage me to climb a mountain… a band teacher, a pastor, a heroine in a book that I read or a movie I had seen…and so I’d climb a little higher, and a little higher, until one day, in my mid 20s, I peeked out above the valley and above the clouds and I saw that there were lots of other mountains and lots of other valleys and the only way to get from one mountain to another was to cross a valley or two.  It took effort and more encouragement, but I soon wanted to get beyond those valleys and up those mountains.  I began to see – to believe – that my future wasn’t in the valleys.  I began to seek higher ground.

I know that there is no way I’d appreciate the peaks in my life (my current marriage, my son, the impending birth of my daughter) were it not for the valleys I’ve had to walk through (my first marriage, my 6 miscarriages, the loss of my job in Feb 2009).

What about you?  What do you believe?  Are you just passing through the valleys on your way to the next mountain top or do you resent the mountains because they surround the valley?

Jessica

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3 Responses to “Build on High Ground (Noah’s Ark Wisdom Part 6)”
  1. Laura says:

    Jess, so many times over the last several years I have struggled with those same “labels” and it is hard to live up to them. I allowed them to make me who I am today, and honestly I dont have to let them define me. If I want to move past them I need to grow from them and see what that next step is and see how I can use them to my benefit…not believing them, but believing in myself. I love being challenged, and reading these steps is doing that.

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    Jessica Benzakein Reply:

    Good to see you stepping out of your comfort zone a bit, Laura, and posting a comment here rather than IMing me directly. :) You never know, your comment just might be the encouragement someone else needs to help them up the mountain.

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  2. Aaron says:

    Jessica first i want to thank you for your awesome insight and practical explaation of Gods word. I am an ispiring preacher, a dedicated teacher and a loving husband. I have been walking with Jesus for about 4 years now and he has called me to give a sermon. Though very afraid i am also encourged that he qualified me to do so. I just want to thank you and let you know that your words have helped me and this topic will be one of the foundations for my first sermon! Continue to walk in the newness of life and bring others back to Christ.

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