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Pit-Dwelling & How to Climb Out

Are you in a pit? Many people are and it’s a very hard place to be. We spin our wheels only to get further mired. Stuck and frustrated we may tend to give up simply remaining there feeling there is little we can do to get out. And, for some folks, they don’t even recognize that they are in a pit. They just keep doing the same thing over and over, ruminating again and again over those same feelings.

That was me. No relationship ever seemed to work out. This caused so much pain to me and to my children. I mean this was excruciating. Each loss was devastating and debilitating at the time. I couldn’t breathe, literally. My chest felt crushed and my brain was heavily clouded. To move my body was like trying to move cement pillars. My pain was about my relationships but I recognize that the desolation is very similar through grief, great loss such as health or employment, depression, tragedy and even, for some, in aging. Pit-dwelling can drain the life out of you. Let’s begin by identifying the four types of pits I’ve noted.

The first pit is the one other people throw you into. There you are in the cold, damp darkness, like Joseph from the Bible (Genesis 37), cast down by his own brothers! We are told the brothers were jealous and planned to kill Joseph till one brother suggested the pit instead of murder. Imagine the blackness of their hearts to do such a thing to their own flesh and blood. Jealousy and envy are powerful and motivating. They can persuade people to do unthinkable things. Joseph must have been dumbfounded to learn the degree of loathing his own siblings had toward him. He may have experienced some jealousy as he grew up but I expect he never dreamed his brothers would do such a thing to him. Has someone thrown you into such a pit of betrayal? When you find yourself in this pit it is often at the hands of a co-worker, a friend or a family member...and it is gut wrenching!

Life events can sweep you down into the second sort of pit. This is the pit you have no control over-it just happened. The outcome is unknown and terrifying. In this pit you may be experiencing a tragic loss and grief swirls around you like a funnel cloud threatening to swallow you down and down. Sudden or expected, the grief envelops you heart, body and soul. Maybe an illness is robbing you or someone you love. Or depression has come and stays like a weighted blanket you just can’t cast off. Covid has affected thousands in this way through tremendous loss of one form or another. Then there is the fierce battle between the vitality of youth and the apathy of aging. Is this the pit you are dwelling in?

Finally, the last two pits are well within our own control through the choices we make: the pit of destruction and the pit of my own making. In the pit of my own making, for me it was toxic relationships, I kept doing the same thing over and over. My own behavior forged chains that kept dragging me under. Let me put it this way. I walked down the same road and kept falling into the same pit. Then as I travelled that familiar road I began to recognize the pit and walked around it instead of falling in-progress at last! I was proud of myself. However, the old behaviours still lurked in the shadows ready to devour me if I made just one wrong move. That frightened me. I prayed a lot. I just couldn’t bear that debilitating pain one more time. Finally, I was able to plan a whole new route averting that pit altogether. This was huge for me! When I learned how to do this it became my happiest time on this earth!

Ok, so now that we have briefly looked at each type of pit how do you climb out? Well, as I said, dwelling in the last two are determined by our own decisions. Jesus can help you avoid the pit of destruction altogether. Talk to him about it. (Psalm 103:4) But, I’ll be honest. It took me years to finally climb out of my self-made pit. It required a lot of personal examination, a strong desire to change my life and years of prayer asking God for wisdom and discernment in order to change those old ingrained patterns. There was no fast easy fix….but better late than never, right! I’m so grateful that my heavenly Father in His grace allowed me the years of life to gain the insight to finally move past the perpetual behaviors that always ended with me in that same old pit. I am free at last!

Pits one and two also require divine intervention. You may be asking why has this happened to me. Why am I suffering this betrayal, this illness? I don’t understand why I am here in this pit or how to get out of it. I am certain we must begin with this. God is sovereign. You either both believe and recognize that he is in control or you don’t. You give your situation to him and beseech him to help you, much like George Bailey did in the story, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I expect that Joseph too cried out in despair as the travelling merchants passed by. If you truly desire to be rescued, you must cry out for help, from God first and foremost, and then from others. And, when you do, you will start to see what God is teaching you in the pit. There are lessons in pit-dwelling that you won’t learn anywhere else, lessons that require you to be there, to boldly and in faith trust God’s sovereignty. He wants to reveal His amazing grace and comfort to you when he has your full attention in the pit. Often we need to be broken before we can be repaired. God wants to teach you to trust him completely. Apart from the obvious studies of perseverance and patience while in the pit, you may also believe you are completely alone down there. You are not! God will never leave you! (Deuteronomy 31:6) Reach out, look up and your vision will clear! How long or why you are there in the pit, I can’t answer. But I do know that there is purpose in the pain. Growing your faith and trust in the Father is essential until you believe and know full well that indeed God is good ALL the time, even and especially, in the pit. You see it’s not about what is happening around you in the pit. It is about what you come to KNOW to be true while pit-dwelling, so much so, that your circumstances in the pit dim and take on a whole new hue. When you know this certainty deep in your heart, a ladder will appear so you can begin your climb out!

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