“I TELL YOU: YOU MUST NOT BE AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES. PEOPLE THINK THEY WILL BECOME GOOD BY DOING NO HARM, BUT THAT IS A LIE. SUCH A FRAME OF MIND LEADS TO STAGNATION AND MEDIOCRITY.” ––Vincent van Gogh
We all agree that Jane Austen wrote some of the most memorable heroes and heroines. In fact, in my opinion, Darcy and Elizabeth were her best ones. In To Refine Like Silver, it never says it in the words, but a stagnant life, one with no trials, never creates the Elizabeth Bennets or Fitzwilliam Darcys. It takes mountains to climb, financial troubles, sadness and loneliness, hurdles to jump, embarrassing families, flopped proposals and broken hearts, rain to endure, and other humbling opportunities.
So you might not see in the darkness, you might feel like a failure, and you might fear the future. . . . but there is s purpose for those of us who have to reach down and find that true grit to get through life. Maybe you do not have the perfect job, or the nicest home. Perhaps you didn’t get that raise that you were hoping for. Maybe you feel like one of many in a sea of faces. Maybe you feel average.
So for those of us who feel average or don’t feel like success is in your future, there might just be a reason for the low moment in your life. It is your time to grow. The only place to go when you are at your lowest is up. What you do with that low moment is the most important. Here is an excerpt from To Refine Like Silver to show this. Darcy has been challenged to understand why God would sit and refine us like a purifier of silver (Malachi 3:3). In this scene, Darcy is having a deep discussion with Reverend Walker, the Kympton Priest, about the issue.
“But at that rate, developing charity would require an entire lifetime.”
“Exactly! Charity is the work of a lifetime. It is the sum of small choices made each day. After all, one cannot wake up and decide to be a good person and be done by afternoon tea. It takes time. It also takes trials. I mentioned that faith is doing what is right when life is difficult. If life were never difficult, we would have no opportunities to build our faith. You mentioned Miss Elizabeth’s belief that our trials are a way to prove ourselves to God. You said it as if you did not believe it yourself.”
“I do not see how a loving God would afflict us with difficulties that could harm us.”
“The key phrase is ‘could harm us’. We can choose how each trial affects us. Let me tell you a story. One day, a farmer’s workhorse fell down a deep hole. The farmer loved this horse very much, but he could see no way to pull it out. After several days of throwing food into the hole, he knew there was only one thing left to do. There was no way the horse could survive without water. He must bury it.
“So, reluctantly, the farmer started shoveling in dirt on top of the horse. The farmer shoveled in pound after pound of dirt, crying the whole time. When the farmer estimated that he had shoveled enough dirt to bury the horse up to the shoulders, he looked in to say his last goodbye. He was quite surprised when he looked down the hole and found the horse was not buried. Why do you think the horse was not buried?”
“Not enough dirt?”
“No, there was plenty of dirt. The horse simply shook off the dirt and stepped up.”
Darcy smiled and slowly nodded. “A very clever story,” he said. “So, you are saying the dirt is our trials, and we can either let them bury us or save us. We can choose to either lament our challenges or learn from them.”
“Exactly. So, why does God give us challenges?”
“I think He wants to see us come out of the hole.”
So to help you feel motivated, here are a few quotes on mediocrity and stagnation. Stir the water. Make waves. Shake it off and step up. Try. Only then will you rise out of mediocrity and no longer feel stagnant. Only then will growth occur.
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