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The Pits

In high school, if something didn't work out or wasn't like we thought it should be, we would say, "That's the pits."  Does anyone say that anymore?  If not,  here's to bringing that saying back because life can be the pits. And here's to talking about the pits because our American culture sets us up to expect happiness and success.  So when things seem to be falling apart we have no idea what to do or where to turn. And worse, we feel like something is wrong with us as we look around  and see everyone else who seems to have it all together.

Hey, you're saying, I thought this was supposed to be a place with encouraging and inspiring thoughts. Right.

Life itself has its pits, as we all know.  It's those times when life doesn't  go like we anticipated, or thought  it would.  We feel lost, confused, let down, disoriented, maybe even hopeless. Uncomfortable.  That's a good way to describe how I feel during these times. Sometimes the pits last a few days, and at other times these seasons can go on and on for what seems like forever.  Or, maybe we went through the pits of life a few years back and thought we were "Done!"  only to find ourselves back in another pit years later.

Richard Rohr, OFM,  says this: "Don't be too afraid of being thrown into the pit."  My dad says it like this:  "What goes up must come down."  The Biblical pattern is clear.  There is no going up until you go down.  Joseph had to go down into the pit twice before he came into his destiny.  The examples of this pattern in scripture are numerous,  ending of course in the example of Jesus's death and resurrection.

If it's true that times of defeat, humiliation, failure, brokenness are part of life, then why do we try so hard to avoid them?  I suppose we each have to answer that for ourselves as the reasons come from our own dark side.  But what if we learned to not run from, fear, dread, or avoid the pits of life but learn to embrace them as they come our way?  Where we even learn to say, "This stinks, but through it I have the opportunity to become a better person  if I choose to."

The pits of life can be good for us.   It's during those times that God, if we allow it, meets us in profound ways. Not only do we learn things about God that we wouldn't otherwise see, but we learn things about ourselves. Corrie ten Boom and Victor Frankl are great examples to me of people who survived the Holocaust concentration camps and came out better people for their suffering.

Here are some things I've tried to live out during the pits of life, as a way of embracing these seasons:

  • Be honest about where you are and how you feel.  
  • Stop pretending that everything is alright.
  • Stop lying to yourself that you should have it all together by now
  • Stop comparing your journey to that of those around you.  Your journey is your journey.  Your journey is not their journey.
  • Find a good friend to walk with you through this season, not one who has to fix you, but one who can ask thoughtful questions or just simply walk alongside.
  • Bring all of the mixed up, confused, hurt, let down and whatever else feelings to God
  • Ask for insight to see things within that can't be known during the happy and good times of life.  Believe me, the dark times have a way of exposing junk in us.
  • Surrender to allowing your heart and inner self to be worked on
  • And finally, hang on like crazy to the One who can begin to make sense out of the pits of life, even turning it into something good and beautiful in time.
Maybe you find yourself in a pit now and it seems there is no way out.  Know that one day you will be emancipated.  You will be free again.  And you will have become a better person for your experience in the pit.  In the meantime, just keep holding on like crazy.


  1. I remember reading a comment in a Sunshine booklet back when I was probably about 11 or 12 that has stayed with me ever since. It's basically the same thing your dad said. "Life is like a seesaw. Some days you are up and some days you are down. It is well to remember when you are up that you may come down again and when you are down that you shall go up again.”

    I'm reading a wonderful book by John Bevere titled: Relentless. Our church just finished studying this book for Sunday School. (I got behind in my reading and am just finishing it up now. Shame on me.) But it's awesome. The subtitle is: The Power You Need To Never Give Up.

    There are a few things in my life not going quite the way I would have preferred and this book has been very encouraging.

    1. The quote from the Sunshine booklet is awesome... thanks for sharing that! I'll have to check out the book, Relentless, as well. I'm drawn to the title, and the subtitle is equally captivating.