Two frogs were hopping in a rut in the middle of a road. One frog got tired of being in a rut and jumped out. The liberated frog encouraged his friend to do the same. However, the other frog had learned to tolerate rut life. He felt the walls were too high for him to jump out. Suddenly, a big truck came toward him. The truck’s tire was in the same rut the forlorn frog. The frog had an “a-ha” moment. Gathering his resolve and strength, the frog easily jumped out of the rut.
Lesson: Nothing will get you out of a rut quicker than a big, big reason to get out. The problem was not that the frog couldn’t or shouldn’t jump out of the rut. The problem was the frog wouldn’t jump out of the rut.
Having been a pastor for many years, I have noticed two types of causes that get us humans into ruts. The first cause comes from mistakes we have made in the past. It was our fault or bad decision we made, and we know it. We feel remorse, hurt, embarrassment, shame, guilt and the like for the hurt that we have caused others by our actions.
As a result, we get stuck in the rut of the “woulda…shoulda…couldas.” We spend our lives wishing we could go back in the past, change what we did or said, and go on from there. We want a redo! This is good because it means we have accepted our responsibility in creating the mess. But the downside is we tend to keep internally beating ourselves up for what we did, seemingly forever.
The second cause of how we get into ruts comes from what people or institutions have done to us. We feel we are the victim and perhaps we are. But note when we get stuck in the rut of victimization, we tend to stay there for a long time. We blame, we justify, we act out, we lose control and we lose hope. We get angry or depressed about what happened to us. We nurture our hurt or betrayal again and again. The problem is victims become self-fulfilling prophecies. Many with the victim complex don’t get better; they get bitter. They get stuck. Some even get run over by the truck. Note: you can’t get ahead of someone if you’re trying to get even with them.
God doesn’t want us to just cope. God wants us to overcome. How? By applying His grace to our situation. God says His word: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.
“All things” means “all things.” That includes our failures, our trespasses, our backsliding, our shame, our blame, our past, the hurts done to us by others, everything. God takes everything wrong that was done to us and everything that we have done wrong to others and redeems it. What was intended for evil, God uses for our good and the good of others. Jesus told us this in the Lord’s prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”
What hurts us is not the sin against us. What hurts is the anger, shame, pity, bitterness or betrayal we feel. God deals with the sin part of the hurt first. God forgives us for what we have done to others as well as what others have done to us. Then God heals the emotional hurt causing us to relive our hurt, ad infinitum.
Here’s some advice on ruts. Find a purpose in what happened to you. The worst thing that has happened to you may become your life ministry or cause. God’s grace applied to your life not only touches you for good, but now through you, on a reverse course, God’s amazing grace goes and touches everyone for good who hurt you…or who you hurt.
By receiving God’s grace and allowing everything that has happened to us to work for our good and God’s purposes, we close the gates of hell and open the gates of heaven, freeing us and those who hurt us. When you do this, you will discover you just jumped out of the rut. I knew you could.