Behind our house there's a lake that is contained by an eight-foot high earthen dike. In a couple of places I built a set of concrete block steps that made it possible for us to walk more easily up the side of the dike to the lake.
The steps worked well, and I was pleased with myself. But then it rained—several times—and the running water washed away some of the dirt that was unevenly packed under the blocks. This allowed the blocks to sink in various places, making the steps both uneven and unstable.
I learned that steps that work well in good weather may not function the same in a downpour. I rebuilt the steps, this time pounding a layer of gravel into the dirt under each step, and these steps have remained stable through a great many rains—even a flood.
In our personal lives, we're all building steps. We're trying to grow. We're always faced with a dike or mountain or obstacle to climb as we deal with the events and relationships in our lives. In fair weather, it may seem that we have accomplished our goals—that we're strong, that things are going well—but then the rains inevitably fall, and things often fall apart.
When our steps fail—emotionally, physically, spiritually—it's easy to become discouraged. It's understandable that we often feel like we built or took the wrong steps. It's more productive to realize that what happens to our steps in the rain is simply information. Difficult situations and people serve only to point out what we need to do next in order to stabilize and strengthen the path we're walking. This realization can eliminate discouragement, guilt, and despair.
Keep making and taking steps, and be grateful for what you learn in the rain.