I hope that you don’t mind me getting a little personal here, but I’m going to. This past weekend was a very significant weekend for me. One that I will never forget on both the positive and on the challenging side. I spent the weekend in Salt Lake City and stayed until yesterday. There were so many different things that happened this weekend and I was so happy and so sad throughout it that I left feeling so emotionally drained that I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. Last night after getting home, I just felt completely defeated. I felt completely overwhelmed by everything in my life, to the point of complete exhaustion.

All I could think of were the recent challenges I have been through: relationships ending, bills that are stacked a mile high, the responsibilities that I have as a father, challenges that I am facing with my children, staying up to speed with my responsibilities at work, and the overall unknown prospect of what the future holds for me. It finally got to the point where I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and give up. I am an optimistic person in even the worst of situations, but sometimes even the most optimistic person gets slapped in the face and is forced to face the reality of what is.

It is along these lines that I wish to write this morning. One of the most valuable lessons that I learned this weekend was that while I am in control over the choices I make in this life, I know who is in charge at the end of the day. Looking back over the brief history of my life, I can see with absolute clarity that God has overseen everything in my life, both the good and the bad. The good I have learned from and gained experience through. The bad I have trudged through, bled through, cried through, and come out triumphant every time! It truly is through experiencing the storms that we grow and come out stronger. I have never been through a difficult time in my life where I didn’t come out of it a completely different and substantially better person in the end. This makes me truly grateful for the difficult times as well as the good times.

”One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?
Those prints are large and round and neat,
But Lord, they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.

“Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand.”

-James Reuben Knowles

It’s a fun poem, but I also believe it to be very true! This is how we learn and grow! He truly has been in charge of everything in my life. He gives me the choice to do what I will with what He gives me, but He knows me better than anyone. He knows what will help me grow. He knows this for each of us. He is a personal God. One so personal that we address Him as Father. He is our Father and He knows what each of us has the potential to become. He gives us these challenges so that we might grow exactly the way that we need to in order to reach that potential. Each of us will have challenges that are unique to us, that no one else has faced before. All He asks of us is that we have faith in Him and in the fact that He knows what He is doing. It can being especially difficult to do when we are in the trenches being fired at from every angle. Trust Him. Trust in the knowledge that He is in charge!

Among my positive experiences this weekend was a night that I decided to go to a movie on my own, which is something that I had never done before. It was interesting to go alone, but enjoyable nonetheless. I went to see a movie that a dear friend had recommended. It was a movie that I felt I could relate to incredibly well. The movie was the Hollywood rendition of the book “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. I have never felt so inspired my a movie before seeing this one. It is the true story of a WWII bombardier who, prior to the war, had defeated all odds and become a very famous olympic athlete. In the story, his plane goes down and he spends 45 days at sea in a life raft with two other soldiers, then is captured by the Japanese and kept in Japanese POW camps for the remainder of the war, where he is the main punching bag of the camp leader. His resilience to make it through everything he went through was incredible. His spirit was never broken through any of it.

I left the theatre smiling that night because I knew without a doubt that I can do anything that I put my mind to. I knew that life can throw any curve at me and I will take it. Bring it on!!! I don’t pretend to claim to have been through anything as challenging as this soldier had been through, but I have been through challenges that to me felt every bit as difficult. Mine have been more emotional than physical, but they are very real nonetheless.

I came to the conclusion that I won’t let anything defeat me! I know who is in charge! I know that He has a plan for me. I know on whose side I choose to be, and I know who will win in the end! I know that there will be times where I will feel like giving up. Those are the times where I have learned to rely on Him the most. Even in the darkest of moments when I have felt that He wasn’t there, looking back now I can see that those were the moments where His hand was most diligently involved in my life. Whenever I have been in the darkest of times, He has been my guiding support through it all. He has sent other people as angels. He has also sent real angels to hold me up when I was falling. I know in whom I will trust, and I will NEVER give up!!! Keep it coming! Prove me if you must… I will not give up… I will not give in… and I will NOT be defeated!!!