I heard these words last Monday from my beautiful friend, Ailene Ponce. We had met to supposedly discuss the assignment for a class we were both taking with Coursera, Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses Part 1.
As with most friends, but maybe specially with girl friends, you end up talking about everything else but the kitchen sink…no wait…we also talked about the kitchen sink because we also talked about cooking and cleaning up the kitchen after….
Oops, sorry. Got carried away.
She was also taking a lot of classes along with the business class. It was talking about her finance class that she shared the lesson with me, a lesson that I have been going through since maybe the new year.
Lesson? Basically that growth is rarely, if ever, linear. Most of the time, there will be a dip in the process. Most people give up when they get to the dip, but those who succeed are those who lean into the dip and push against it until they get through.
A few weeks ago, I read the FB status of Jomar Hilario, a mentor that I respect. I can’t really call him my mentor, because I didn’t really pursue the field he’s teaching on, but I do love to read his stuff and receive the challenges he makes in them. He was quoting one of his mentors, Bo Sanchez, about what I will call here “the circle of life.” Here’s a loose translation of what he said:
Life is a circle. A circle is round. When it’s round, that means sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. You can’t avoid going down because it’s a circle, and it goes round. So the secret is not avoiding going down, but being prepared for the times you will find yourself down.
Something like that. At least, that’s how it was impressed on me.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that from last year, we started our trip down into the dip. Irl’s extreme laryngitis that eventually led him to resign from his voice-intensive job, my pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage, then a bout with urinary tract infection that was traced all the way to my kidneys which sapped my energy and stamina for about a month, entering a network around the time a major upheaval happened in the management, a monsoon flood that marooned us for several days (but thankfully, it was not as bad as Ondoy was here), discovering unreliability in some business partners, The Dude breaking down just before Christmas, my brother spending Christmas at the hospital and I didn’t know until after they came out…
And I know that we haven’t reached bottom yet.
When I first read Jomar Hilario’s status, I had been thinking: maybe I should have been more prudent. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent on all these stuff that I had planned for a possible business in photography (my Pentax Kx DSLR 2-lens kit, a Benro tripod, a Black Rapids dual strap, remote control), online work (laptop and a 3Mbps internet connection), training for my dream to follow in the steps of the Iron Nun (Skechers Shape Ups), and of course, our beloved truck, The Dude. Not to mention getting braces…
And yet, every time I seriously consider selling some of my stuff so we can have extra grocery or travel or bill-payment (and tax debt) money, I seriously feel like a horse getting reined in. Then the gentlest of voices speaks to my troubled heart: “Those are My gifts to you. Don’t panic, I’ve got you covered.“
And He really does. I will never forget June 24, 2012. And if you haven’t read about it, you can read the story here. Six months later, December 24, as I stared in dumbfounded shock as The Dude’s waterpump jumped out of its casing and the fan broke off and hit the radiator, while one blade flew off, hit the raised roof of the hood before ricocheting and hitting a 7-year old bystander (who was among the several kids we had been shooing away as the mechanics observed The Dude’s engine), His voice was quick: REST. I was quick to decide to spend on the little girl’s hospital treatment (3 stitches plus shots), but it depleted our account…
Still, everywhere I look, whatever I read, whichever preacher I listen to (my church pastors, Joseph Prince, Tim Keller), always, ALWAYS, the word REST will be mentioned.
I can take a hint.
Still, I can’t help feeling I could have been readier for this dip…
A few days ago, I finally asked for prayers from a missionary friend. I knew she would understand my prayer request without me having to elaborate on details. What I didn’t know or could have ever been prepared for was how her family would respond.
Exceedingly, abundantly, above all I could ask or think or imagine. Relatively speaking, okay, lest you think they had hit some sort of lotto jackpot and showered us with millions…
Here’s what I wrote to her:
At first, I thought, “I should have budgeted more wisely”, so that when we get to the down times, it wouldn’t be as difficult. Now I see that that’s not the kind of preparation the Lord wanted from me. I realize now that the preparation He is after is my humility: that I will be willing to receive help in whatever form, through whomever He chooses, trusting Him to return the blessing to the people Himself, just as He promised.
In business, as in life, the dip will always come. We have to lean into the dip and push on until we can get through.
But there’s a sweeter way. The Psalmist said
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:7,8 Amplified Bible)
Did you see that? If I make my bed (lie down: can you make yourself lower than lying down?) in Sheol, the place of the dead (that place is not just six feet below the ground, you know), BEHOLD, YOU ARE THERE.
BEHOLD. You get to the lowest of the lows, and you look, and – HE IS THERE. He has not let us slide into the pit by ourselves only to hold out His hand from the mouth of the hole to hoist us up. No. He is there, THERE, right there, in the pit, in the dip, with us, with ME in this down time.
He is HERE with me. And as I lean into this dip in the graph of my progress in life, I find that I am leaning on Him. And I learn now that He wants me to keep leaning into Him, pushing against Him, putting all my weight onto Him, until HE carries me through.
I don’t know how deep this dip is going to be, or how long before I hit the upward curve on the circle of life. But I know and am certain of one thing:
JESUS IS WITH ME, and HE WILL NEVER LET ME GO.
Praised be the Name of Jesus!