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by Brian Leshley
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Think of struggle as a waterfall. A stream begins and melds into other streams. As the water begins to rush it moves across the landscape, in no particular pattern, randomly moving through and around the rocky terrain. Rushing streams and creeks become a river and somewhere along the way is a drop off, or a rocky shelf. This becomes a waterfall. In the waterfall is a rush of energy—be it good or bad, this energy rushes over the edge. No choice here but to continue to move with the flow. A rush of sound and energy is associated with the river at this point. This particular event is glorious and exhilarating, yet dangerous and scary at the same time. After the rush then a serene calm comes across the area. After the rush comes a pool of water or deep slow flowing river. The calm always appears after the release of energy.

The scene above is just like emotions. Good and bad emotions follow the pattern of the river. They surge and flow under the surface. Emotion flows very much like water. Over time the buildup is uncontainable and the rush over the cliff side is unstoppable. We can watch in awe as the energy surges. Our choice comes when we have the feeling of emotions. With anger and frustration we must exercise self-control, we must release them in a constructive and productive manner. With happiness and elation we must not get out of control either. Self-discipline is necessary in each of these cases. We must learn to recognize the signs of a waterfall.

We can train our ears and bodies to recognize the triggers. Again, we have a choice here. Do we flow down the frothy mass of churning liquid or do we attempt to fight the current for fear of the results?

How do we control the drop? Because the waterfall is inevitable—as I said before it is uncontainable. We must learn to flow the river and channel the energy to increase our own survival rate. We are tasked with riding the rapids. Remember that the journey is our goal. Survival through the struggles are necessary to enjoy the journey to its fullest. I read once that we must approach the rapids with a particular question in mind: How can I learn from this? Yes, how can we grow?

A diamond does not become a diamond without pressure. And it takes a lot of pressure. (45,000 to 60,000 times our everyday atmospheric pressure) and at extreme temperatures—900 to 1,300 degrees Celsius. If the temperatures are not just right the graphite is formed, not a diamond. Pressure is important to create brilliance. And brilliance is not what is absorbed into the diamond—it is defined on the reflection from the surface. A waterfall creates a certain amount of pressure. Many challenges appear in the relatively short distance; however the speed of descent is where the most challenges occur—not the distance.

Our preparation will determine our level of survival. True, the first few falls were scary, dangerous and we may have gotten hurt or hurt others during the flailing, tumbling and crashing about. The energy released can be extremely intense. This does not need to be fatal. When we begin to recognize the signs and feelings when a fall is about to appear around the bend we can prepare for a safer journey. And this can actually be fun as well. Remember that our goal is not just survival, but strengthening and learning through each successive tumble down the rapids. When we become adept at riding the flow we can not only learn, but we can really enjoy the lesson. We can find facets of ourselves we did not even know existed.

Throughout the journey down the river and through the rapids we learn to feel the flow. The same flow appears in the waterfall; however it is much faster and narrower. Our particular angle must be precise to survive the fall without injury. Even when we are prepared an unexpected jagged rock can throw us off kilter—nothing is perfect. Let’s not kid ourselves. My contention is that if we are prepared we will survive the bigger ones pretty well and the smaller, trickier ones won’t hurt so much—as long as we remember to continue with the flow after the fall. The tendency is to linger in the pool at the bottom of the fall, nursing our wounds or swirling in the whirlpool, choosing to dwell and not move forward. We can do nothing once we have begun the descent of a waterfall. All we are capable of really do is to let it be what it is and ride it out—controlling our position in the rapids, rather than speed. We will get where we go in due time—the rapid must polish us in its own way.

We not only need to prepare for the rushing rapids we need to prepare for the calm after the storm. This is almost more important than the actual rush of waves and dance with the rocky mountainside. The deep pool that forms at the bottom of the falls is almost more dangerous than the actual fall. Swirling whirlpools of despair and confusion threaten to pull you down into the darkness. Riptides and undertow can rush you under a shelf in the water, with no way out. Remember the river is still a swirling mess in the aftermath of impact. Not until we are on the way down river can we learn from the last lesson. This is not the time to rest. My friends we must be strong and this is why learning to stay with the flow of the river will save us in the long run—yes we must strengthen ourselves, but fighting the flow constantly will weaken us for the real tests in our lives.

This is where trusting in God’s plan is necessary. He made the river and the rapids. He knows the bends and breaks. He can help you navigate the rapids and survive the waterfall, if you let Him. Bring yourself to a personal relationship with Lord, for He is your navigator on this journey. Yes, at times it will be scary and overwhelming—the Lord never said it would be easy. I leave you with this scripture about fearing the rapids—“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lords shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25, KJV. Put your trust in the Lord during your journey.

Bio: Brian has written his poetry book, Poetry for Browsing, a collection of poems. The book may be purchased at www.publishamerica.net.

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