Climbing Out of Life’s Ditches

Recently, I saw a tow truck backed into the driveway of the post office near our house. At first, I thought a car had run off the road, but on closer inspection, I saw a man on a riding lawn mower stuck in a deep ditch. The mower was so far down in the ditch the front wheels were in the air and the driver was powerless to gain enough traction to climb out of his predicament.

Much about 2020 has felt like living life in a deep ditch. COVID, severe weather events, unrest, fear, political banter, all combine to beat us down into a ditch-life mentality.

Following are some thoughts on climbing out of life’s ditches:

Look Up

When you are in the bottom of the ditch, up is the only direction you can move. But many times, instead of looking up, and working on methods for climbing out, our focus is downward. We look at the debris in the ditch, the difficulty, the seeming impossibility of a situation, and wallow there instead of turning our attention to the means and methods of extricating ourselves from current circumstances.

When your focus is down, looking up takes fortitude. “Fortitude” is a good word we don’t use much anymore, but it applies to climbing out of life’s ditches. Fortitude means strength of mind that allows you to move, with courage, despite fear, adversity, or danger.  A synonym for fortitude is grit, and grit is what propels people to forge new paths, risk, and claw their way ahead.

When you find yourself in a life ditch, look up, get your grit on, look for God in your circumstances, and climb.

Seek Help

Sometimes, when we are experiencing difficult circumstances, we try to go it alone. The man on the riding lawn mower in the ditch at the post office could have tried for the rest of the day, perhaps risking injury, to get his mower out of the ditch in his own strength. Instead, he realized his efforts were powerless without the help of another.

When you are in a deep ditch, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally, don’t wait to ask for help. Voicing what you are experiencing and seeking the help of those qualified to provide insights changes your perspective from a deep-ditch mentality to a forward-looking view. Allowing others to help you is a catalyst for forward motion.

Learn from the Ditch

When I passed the post office later, the man on the mower was again cutting grass as if he’d never been stuck in a ditch. However, perhaps he was a little more careful this time. Having learned the hazards and received help, he was moving forward with the task before him. Likewise, as difficult as life ditches are, we can learn from them.

Find Joy

One of our grandsons loves tractors. A toy tractor, riding lawn mower, construction equipment, or anything else that qualifies in his mind as a tractor holds great fascination for him. Last year, he had a tractor-themed birthday party, and riding the lawn mower with his daddy brings him great joy.

Often finding joy in ditch-like circumstances is hard. In the last few weeks, a number of deaths have occurred in our church and our town. Family and friends are grieving the loss of these loved ones, but many are finding positives in their situations, and holding on to the joy of pleasant memories.

While it’s easy to focus on what is difficult and negative, the ability to find joy, even when life’s ride is rough and your tractor is in a ditch, helps you navigate to the next phase of life. In the process, don’t forget to look to God for support and blessings, and praise him for rescue from life’s ditches.

He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. Psalm 40:2-3 MSG


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including:,,,,, Focus on the Family,,, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House) and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

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