Monday, February 9, 2015

Hard Things

#ICanDoHardThings  This hashtag first appeared on my radar sometime last year - a friend of mine had determined to run every day for a month, and this was the handle she attached to her efforts. I've seen it in other places, too - referring to everything from Bible memorization to healthy eating to weight lifting to de-cluttering and more.

It intrigued me. It stirred up something in my soul. Curious, I thought at the time, since I had spent most of my life avoiding hard things. And not just passively, hoping nothing hard would come my way. No, I actively steered clear of anything that smacked of hard work or challenge; anything that might require the least bit of perseverance or self-discipline or will power or effort or discomfort...In the spirit of the lazy perfectionist I was, I only spent my time on that which came easily, naturally. Any momentary lapse of sanity that involved trying something new and difficult was almost immediately followed by a plethora of excuses and justifications, inevitably leading to the abandonment of said hard thing. Since this was so often accompanied by guilt and shame and self-condemnation, the lapses became fewer and fewer and farther and farther between. 

Then, a few years ago now, I began this real joy journey and started facing up to these fears and failings. I started trying things that came a little less easily. And I fell - a lot. 

But falling down was never in question, was it? We all fall - often, regularly, frequently, even. I used to be just terrible at getting back on my horse. I'd wallow around in the mud of self-contempt for days, weeks, months even; shaming myself for falling, telling myself all sorts of awful lies and half-truths - and more often than not continuing in the very habits and behaviours and thought patterns that got me there in the first place! And when I was finally able to escape that trap and set my feet back on solid ground, I often found myself right back at square one, or worse...

But then, especially lately, but probably always, there's this:

"Hard things just keep calling you because 
you're meant to answer to higher and better things." 
~ Ann Voskamp  

I'm finding myself in completely uncharted territory here, people - I actually want to do the hard things! I really do! And I'm doing them! And surprise, surprise - the hard things are turning out to be the "higher and better things"! What joy and satisfaction I'm finding in taking small, hard steps towards my goals and dreams. 

The only drawback is, besides the difficulty and complexity of the hard things themselves, is that when I fall, I'm falling from a greater height than before (not something I'm used to, believe me), therefore falling harder, with a much louder BAM! However, in spite of this, I'm finding it increasingly easier to get back up again, to get back on track and heading in the right direction. These verses from Philippians are helping with my focus: 
"But one thing I do: 
Forgetting what is behind 
and straining toward what is ahead,  
I press on toward the goal to win the prize 
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

And this one, paraphrased slightly:

"I can do hard things through Christ who gives me strength."

What hard things are you up to these days? Let's journey together, "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead"!  We CAN do hard things through Christ who gives us strength!

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