Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When Life Looks a Bit Like a Kid's Game-in-a-Box

I can't say I'm a big board game aficionado.  I tend to get competitive and obnoxious, much to the annoyance of those unfortunate enough to be sitting 'round the table with me.

Yet for some reason, I've always loved Chutes and Ladders.  Ever since I was little, I've really gotten into zipping up those big tall ladders, flying right past my opponents, and getting nearer to my goal of jumping onto that final golden square marked 100.

Yippee!  Happy Dance! Yay!  Go, Me!

Like I said, competitive.  Obnoxious.

But along the way, my heart often ends up dropping like a stone.  My attitude takes a sudden, negative lurch for the worse as I encounter a bad spin or two, land on a chute or three, and slide right on down a few rows ... or crash-land back on square one right where I started from.

Wind out of my sails, I feel a bit like a loser, especially as the other players soar closer and closer to that magic golden square where 100 reigns supreme.  It's easy to get kind of quiet as disappointment and self-pity begin to pool.  Pouting easily becomes the name of the game when square 1 is closer than square 100.




Life's like that.  We keep on moving ahead, one spin at a time.  Sometimes we get the big numbers and careen forward at breakneck speed, a confident smile on our faces, hair flying in the wind.

And then, often out of nowhere, things change drastically.  We begin to crawl forward oh-so-slowly ... or take a harrowing collision course way back down the hill, hoping against hope we don't completely crash and burn as things slide completely out of control.

Truth be told, you and I may have reached a pinnacle or two along the way.  And who hasn't hit bottom more than once? But whether we're climbing high with our heads in the clouds or sloshing around the dregs at the bottom, what matters is the perspective that we embrace.

Writer Sarah Young reflects, 'If you encounter a problem with no immediate solution, your response to that situation will take you either up or down.  You can lash out at the difficulty, resenting it and feeling sorry for yourself.  This will take you down into a pit of self-pity.'





Alternatively, the challenge can be a ladder, an invitation of sorts that enables you to climb high and see your life from God's perspective ... and maybe choose some options or solutions that you hadn't thought of before.  Viewed from above, the obstacle that frustrated you is only 'a light and momentary trouble' {2 Corinthians 4} that might actually turn out to be a sweet grace in disguise.

Often, it's just plain easier to throw up our hands, sit back, let life happen, and go nowhere.  Or head backwards, slowly but surely.  Hauling ourselves up the ladder takes focused energy and ongoing effort that we can't drum up without the gracious help from our Heavenly Father.

Yet, if we want to claim His rich, wise, eternity-in-view perspective, we have no other choice but to humble ourselves, seek His face, and ask Him to lead the way upward and onward, one faltering step at a time.

The chute or the ladder?  Where does today find you?



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44 comments:

  1. It's funny how games can bring out a whole different side to our characters. People are often surprised by how competitive I can get at times. Interestingly here, instead of Chutes and Ladders we have Snakes and Ladders. Now I'm wondering about the reason for the difference.
    It's so true though, in life and in games, that it's our attitude that matters whether we're winning or losing, and we definitely need God's help.

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    1. Games, sports, competition ... sometimes these are not our finest moments! I'd rather link hearts and collaborate, ya' know?

      ;-}

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  2. Wow, you've got some thoughts there that make me wonder if we're singing out of the same hymnal. The unpredictable nature of life on this planet keeps us living by faith, for sure. Love this phrase: "Viewed from above." I'm not there, but thankful for the God who does have an aerial view. May we learn to trust him more.

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    1. The 'aerial' view. Love how you phrased that, Michele.

      Maybe the more consistently we trust Him, the more likely that will be our default view finder.

      ;-}

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  3. My perspective is what matters. Yeah, I need to work on that. Glad I'm not alone!

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    1. You said it well, Sarah. We're all in this together ...

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  4. I love board games. Did I tell you I once lost a game of chess to a vacuum cleaner?

    I like to place all the pieces on the board and then re-play some old games of the masters by following them from a book. I read the book and move the pieces accordingly. It's good practice for when I play a real opponent.

    I had already started the game for several hours. The book I got from the attic was old and dusty. It dropped a lot of dust and dirt on the chess board. I used the vacuum cleaner to pick up the dirt and it sucked in all the pieces and won the game.

    Great post, Linda, and a good lesson for life.

    God bless.

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    1. Well, Victor ... since I've been handing over the vacuum to my transitioning-into-retirement husband, I'm guessing that this brilliant scheme won't work for me.

      But maybe it will for him!

      * ha ha*

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  5. My goal this year with the student I am mentoring is that it is OK not to always win. Life is filled with climbing the ladder and slipping down the chutes. The challenge becomes doing it well--up or down!
    Great Post, My Friend!
    Blessings!

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    1. Where did we ever get the idea that we must always be the winner, top of the heap, running away with every prize?

      I'm thinking social media is only making this whole craziness worse.

      I love that you're mentoring the next generation, Lulu ... grandkids, students, neighbors. Thanks for making a difference, friend.

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  6. Does a chadder count? Been one of them so far.

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    1. A chadder.

      Yep, that would about sum up these recent months for you, Bill. I hope that you're healing well. And I'm guessing you're still going to call yourself Cycle Guy, too?

      Be safe. {That's what I always say to my husband when he heads out on his bike ...}

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  7. I cannot imagine you being competitive, Linda, at least not over Chutes and Ladders! hahaha! You are too cute! But I love how you've used this as a metaphor for life. It truly is the setbacks that teach us how to grab hold of God and let Him take us to the next level--whichever direction that might be. Because going backwards is often the best thing for us! I do hope you are doing well, my sweet friend! I think of you often and pray for you daily!

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    1. Thanks for the reminder that going backward can have its payoffs, Beth ... how very true that sometimes it's not til we scrape along the bottom til we finally make those hard, courageous decisions that turn us toward Christ ... and a life filled with joy and peace.

      You, my friend, are a faithful prayer warrior. Lifting you right back up to Him even as we speak.

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  8. Hi Linda, how are you?
    By all means do have fun with the game. It's good getting out of the regular and tone down a bit๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
    Hugs and blessings to you

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    1. Blessings to you, friend! I hope your schedule is easing up a bit and that you are doing well ...

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    2. May appears to be busy, friend. We are having a mini conference that includes teens. Will be out inviting and sending letters alongside with my lady friends.
      But I would try to put up at least one post once a week. This week I was unable to write on my fictional blog :) But I'm happy the series was concluded.
      Thanks for asking, Linda
      Many Blessings to you

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    3. I love that teens are invited to the conference, Ifeoma! We all learn from each other, no matter what our age, don't we.

      I can't begin to count the lessons my grandkids have taught me along the way. I'm grateful ...

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  9. Life is absolutely full of those ups and downs, and I'm in one of those downer spots at the moment. But with God, we can continue to hope for the best, all in His time, and hold our heads high.
    Blessings, Linda!

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    1. I know this is a difficult, scary season for you and Danny, Martha. I'm praying for you right now.

      Peace, peace ...

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  10. I love how you use Chutes and Ladders as an analogy to life, Linda. And this - "But whether we're climbing high with our heads in the clouds or sloshing around the dregs at the bottom, what matters is the perspective that we embrace." I find this so true. Seeing everything through God's perspective makes so much difference, doesn't it? Thank you for these encouraging thoughts today, my friend. Love and hugs!

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    1. We've experienced both locations, haven't we. And through it all, our Savior has been faithful and sure, tender and strong.

      He's always inviting us to something deeper, isn't He, whether we're rejoicing or in sorrow ...

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  11. Your post made me think of a song by the McGruders - "Heaven's Point of View," especially the third verse:

    I may face things tomorrow
    I can't comprehend today
    Circumstances so uncertain often
    make it hard to find the strength to pray
    But I'm living in His promise
    I'll never leave you, I'll always see you through
    What's this mountain to an eagle flying high
    From heavens point of view

    Thanks for jogging my memory. I'm with Michele - God's aerial view of our circumstances make things look a LOT different.

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    1. Amen, Jerralea.

      Once again, music reaches in and touches our hearts somewhere deep.

      Hanging on to the promises that He'll never leave us, never forsake. Let's keep on claiming a holy perspective. Yes, yes.

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  12. Hi Linda! I remember Chutes and Ladders very well. It reminds me of the thought 'two steps forward and one step back' (except those darn chutes take you a lot lower than just one step!)
    Your quote from Sarah Young is simple wisdom, we really do have the power to make ourselves happy and looking forward, or sad and gazing back or for a way out.
    Today is a good day for me. I have been going to the eye doc for weeks for an inflammation in my iris. Finally today, I'm all healed up. Praise God!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Oh, I'm rejoicing with you, Ceil! So grateful that your eye has healed. I guess we never realize how precious something is until it goes awry. Ah ... these aging bodies can so easily discourage us, can't they.

      Yet in the midst of whatever assails, we can shift gears, look forward and up, and trust that God knows the end from the beginning, with His desire to give us purpose and hope.

      You continue to show us how to do that well. I'm so thankful you're in my life ...

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  13. I try really hard to keep myself out of the chutes ;). Of course, inevitable, I hit one, but my MO is to always hop back on the ladder :). If I could have had a 'chute' attitude, my trip last week would have been awful. It pays to have a ladder attitude!

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    1. Ain't that the truth, Anita!

      Nothing like a road trip filled with unexpected bends to force us to choose either a downhill-chute OR an upbeat-ladder perspective!

      Sadly, I have a feeling I know which direction I would have gone. My sainted husband would agree. Poor guy ...

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  14. Dear Linda,
    Ah, yes...this feels like a hug from God reading your post because I read that same reading today from Jesus Calling and I realized that difficulties are practice sessions for me to learn to look to God and ask Him to change my perspective. Many blessings on you whether you climb or slide, my friend <3

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    1. Sometimes it's 3 steps forward, 2 steps back, isn't it. But always onward we go, led by His strong, mighty hand.

      And oh, what we learn in those practice sessions. I love how you worded that reality, friend ...

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  15. It really does depend on the day, doesn't it? Sometimes ladders don't frighten me at all. Others, I'm truly afraid of climbing even more than I'm afraid of sliding. But neither fearful nor exhilarating need be my only choices. Sometimes not moving at all is the best idea. Just to sit a spell in whatever square I land on is the right place for the very best perspective. Hope your faith guides you where next you land.

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    1. Oh yeah, this you said --> 'But neither fearful nor exhilarating need be my only choices. Sometimes not moving at all is the best idea.'

      Sitting in solitude and silence, just biding my time right where I am? That's where I often hear God best 'cause I'm not thinking about my next move.

      Instead, I'm waiting for His next move for me.

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  16. Ironically, I used to love playing "The Game of "Life." :) Seeing when I would marry. How many kids I would have. What my occupation would be. Thanks for bringing back those memories and for making them applicable to our lives today, Linda.

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    1. Hi Lisa ! Now I see my grandkids playing those same games that I used to way back in the day.

      * smile *

      Sometimes I'll play, too. Except for Clue. I used to be a whiz. But now I don't have a clue.

      * smile *

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  17. I am also very competitive. Maybe it's growing up with brothers and having two sons but I like to win. Life for many is about winning. For me life is the chance to do the best I can while serving God. I know it sounds good and somedays I'm not very good at it but winning will be persevering in all God calls me to. Great words friend!

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    1. Life is about serving. Oh yes, yes, Mary.

      That's the perspective we need to focus on. I'm glad you put that word front and center on the table.

      I so appreciate your wisdom, friend.

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  18. Your post makes me smile, Linda. I don't have a competitive bone in my body (as long as I WIN at least every once in a while. LOL) These days I'm climbing the ladder, but it's all good.

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    1. Dear Betsy, what a view from up top!

      ;-}

      Weekend blessings to you ...

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  19. Oh, I love that analogy, Linda. All too often I easily slide right in to self-pity, but the visual of a ladder - climbing up to God - changes things. Beautiful.

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    1. Climbing up to God.

      Oh yeah, that sure changes things, doesn't it, Kristi!

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  20. I pray your recent challenges have turned out to be "sweet grace," my friend. Indeed, perspective is everything. Praying we can all keep an eternal perspective whether our seas are currently calm or choppy. Have a blessed weekend!

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    1. Sweet grace, indeed.

      God is so very gracious.

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  21. What a perfect analogy, Linda! I must admit I'm a bit obnoxious and competitive with games as well. My whole family struggles greatly with this but we love to play board games anyway :). It constantly amazes me how life can change so quickly as you have so beautifully described here. Many times when I'm "on the chutes" I have to make myself think back to some of my life "ladders." Even though the ladders are hard, I can remember what I found at the top which is almost always worth the climb. This helps me put situations properly in perspective. Thank you for this important reminder, my friend.

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    1. You're right, Candace. Life can change in an instant ... and we've all experienced that in ways that have left us breathless, for good or not so much.

      I love what you said about remembering the life ladders. Worth the climb? Absolutely.

      Sheer grace.

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda