Part two on the ugly 4-letter word H - A - R - D.
(See part 1: https://www.allllthethings.com/post/an-ugly-4-letter-word)
This is my all-time most favorite picture of my daughter, Aria. I have it printed and framed in my bedroom. She was two years old and it was taken in Nova Scotia, Canada in the winter. The wind was piercing and harsh that day on the beach, it would take your breath away. When we looked at our pictures later that day, I was taken aback to see her willingly facing the hard wind head on. She actually paused for a moment to stay awhile. She owned it, did not back down, and it even looks like she was enjoying the experience.
A few years ago I heard an analogy that gave me a good mental picture of the value of hard things. Here it is: Life is like a pendulum. On one side of the pendulum you have joy, accomplishment, belief, victory and satisfaction that can come from success. On the other side you have pain, disappointment, hardships, confusion, failure and possible rejection. Then there is the middle. Not much exists in the middle - it is vague and ambiguous and vanilla. In the middle, you can avoid a lot of potential rejection and failure, but in turn, you also avoid a lot of success and satisfaction that can come from giving your all. The middle is your comfort zone - it is safe, cushy, familiar, nondescript, unremarkable and often regretful. The middle can mean that you never really gave your all, or made a stand, or fought the good fight. or made a positive impact. The middle feels good in the moment because it is usually the easy option or the path of least resistance, but choosing the middle for a lifetime produces a heavy burden of regret.
So why not just walk to the side of joy and success and sit down? Well, it does not work like that. The thing about this pendulum of life is that you can only control one side; the side of potential disappointment, hardship, rejection and failure. The higher and the wider you swing the pendulum on the side of potential disappointment, hardship, rejection and failure, in turn, the higher and wider the pendulum will swing back to the side of success, impact, influence and the joy and satisfaction of results.
So the only thing we can control is the the will to go for it, the grit of giving something our all, finishing the day bone weary, doing the really scary thing, chasing a big dream, trying hard things, facing the wind head on. The pendulum of life is not one of my favorite truths about life, yet true nonetheless. And H - A - R - D.
I heard a story one time of a child who had a condition that caused her to not feel any pain. At first, that sounds great. A life without pain? Sign me up. But then I heard the mother’s perspective. In tears, she expressed that her only wish was that her daughter could feel pain. Since pain did not exist for her, the full experience of life could never exist for her. Pain creates safe boundaries, pain teaches us valuable lessons, pain allows us to enjoy pleasure even more. Hard? Yes. But necessary.
A personal affirmation that have blessed me for many years now: "I was not called to an easy life, I was called to a purposeful life. I would rather be exhausted with excellence than rested in mediocrity. I can do hard things for the LORD is before me and behind me, at my righthand and at my left. He clears a path before me and makes my way straight."
So here’s to the hard days, the tough moments, the tears, the heartache, the scary things. Turn and face the wind head on and stay awhile.