Here on the blog, we’ve been talking a lot lately about this incredible group of people we are part of in as Unbounders and the many incredible experiences that come out of this community.  But there is another side to being Unbound — to life, actually — that is not as glamorous, exciting, or inspiring.

Because the truth is, we don’t live life leaping from one mountaintop experience to the next. The big part of our lives is fighting gravity up the mountains, sliding down the back sides, and struggling through the valleys and ruts in between.

It’s spring at last!  — a season of green things and sunshine finally coming back, of celebrating new life, of rejoicing in resurrection.  But as a student, it can also be the season when we realize that winter was months ago, but summer is still months ahead. At least for me, that means I start to struggle.  All my mountaintops seem so far away, and here I am, stuck in one of those ruts.

Hope is a longing for something you haven’t yet attained and a living out of that longing.  But why is it so hard to feel hopeful in the ruts?  And what does it look like to live in hope even when you are not on the mountaintops?

We all know it’s easy to feel hopeful when you are inspired.  When you finish a course.  When you get a good grade on a quiz.  When you stay on your schedule.  When you climb the sky-topped mountains at Capstone.  When you have that amazing conversation with your friend.  When you make time to finish a book for fun.

It is easy to feel hopeful then because you catch a glimpse of the view from the mountaintop, the bigger perspective of what you are longing for, and the thing you are anticipating seems almost reality.

But it’s hard to feel hopeful when things are difficult.  When your day was nothing but schoolwork.   When your day was full of everything but school and you didn’t get any progress made on that assignment.  When you are stuck beating your head on your desk over ALEKS or an eternal BYU course or whatever it is that you are struggling with right now.  When your other college-aged friends ask you when your spring break is, and you have to tell them you don’t really have one.  When you start to wonder if you are actually learning psychology, or just how to pass the psychology CLEP.

Ruts hurt because they make it so much harder to see where you are trying to go, and they make your anticipation seem so much further from ever being fulfilled.

So what do you do in the ruts?  What does it look like have hope, hope that you are doing something worthwhile, hope that something in the world matters, when you are far from the mountaintops?

 

Here’s 2 ways to help you live in hope when you are stuck in a rut:

  1.   Refresh your perspective.  Take a break.  Take a walk.  Read your Bible.  Look back at your life purpose statement.  Talk to your friend or your parent or your sibling about their day.  Do something to help you get out of the smallness of your rut-world and help you to see the bigger picture of reality.  The crushing strength of rut-depression lies in making you lose your perspective, and thus, lose sight of what you are hoping for. Don’t let the ruts win!
  2.  Keep going.  Don’t stop moving forward just because you don’t feel hopeful.  Don’t give up and decide to browse Facebook or binge Netflix or do the fill-in-the-blank that you revert to to escape your struggles.  Hope is based on reality, not how you feel — on truth, not temperature.  While emotions are glorious, we need to make sure we are leading our feelings, not letting them dictate our days.

And the fact is, just because darkness exists doesn’t mean light will never come.  In truth, the very reason we hate the darkness is because we know the light exists.  We couldn’t struggle with doubt if belief wasn’t a reality.  We couldn’t weep at death if we didn’t have hope for victory over the grave.  How we feel can never change what is really true.

It’s April.  You’ve got school and work and life to do.  Live in hope!

Meet Rachel

Hello!  I’m Rachel — firstborn of eight, lover of books and history, and a Humanities major via TESU.  I love making things and making things beautiful — whether that’s sewing, drawing, painting, playing with graphics, or arranging flowers.  I like laughing, people-watching, and doing any or all of the above with my family.  Above all that, I am a follower of Christ, and I want anything I write to explore what it looks like to live out Truth in everyday life.

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