This image might not mean much to anyone else.
But it sure means a lot to me.
In case anyone can’t decipher the words written by my five year old little girl, this is a self portrait, written above it the words, “I can do hard things.” (Let it be noteworthy that this sweet girl spells words the exact way she speaks them, thus the reason “things” is misspelled “Fenges”….we are working on her “Th” sounds but at the moment, it still comes out as “F,” but I digress).
I shared this sweet photo, which now resides on my refrigerator, because it has a precious message. Perhaps it could even be considered an anthem for 2020.
Our family makes it a point each night to recite affirmations (I blogged about the importance of our words and reciting affirmations with my children here).
I used to doubt that these affirmations work. It’s just repeating words, right? But the proof is in the pudding (or however they say that).
Quite obviously this repetition has seared itself into my sweet little Hazel’s memory. Enough so that it prompted her to color a picture of herself with these words above her body. I wonder what she was thinking when she drew it… Perhaps she was thinking this year has been hard too (She’s not wrong).
We don’t like to do hard things in our society, do we? In fact, I think it’s fair to say we avoid it as much as possible.
When it comes to God’s word there’s no denying we are commanded to do hard things. Even though we like to say things like, God’s commandments aren’t always easy, but by His grace we can obey them–this statement is 100 percent true–but why can’t we just come out and say that God’s commandments are hard?
When we are commanded to love our enemies, it’s hard. Repenting is hard. Forgiving is hard. Turning the other cheek is hard. Overcoming sin is hard. Sharing the gospel is hard. Reading our Bible is hard. I could go on and on, and you could too. Most everything God commands is hard.
So why are we hesitant to call things hard?? Are we afraid to come across as unspiritual? Faithless? After all, if we are sold out to God, shouldn’t it be easy to read our Bibles every day, say no to sin, and share the gospel with others? When we think this way, I believe we are missing out on something God wants to teach us about spiritual growth and His plan for our lives.
When we do hard things, we grow. We grow in character, in practical areas of competence, and in our faith. And if we WANT to grow, we need to get over the idea that God’s love means He wants us to go through life with as little discomfort as possible. There’s a similar notion that people often mistakenly believe, which is that we don’t need to change because God loves us just the way we are. He actually DOES loves us just the way we are, but He also loves us too much to leave us that way. He wants us to grow.
Now I’m not claiming the contrary either; I don’t believe God wants us to live joyless, pain-filled lives. But our joy HAS to be rooted in more than temporary circumstances. At times, pain is necessary in order to gain something of greater value.
What I mean to say is, YOU, ME, WE, have the ability to do hard things. And no doubt we should do hard things because it’s the best and really the only way to experience true growth in our lives.
Stop and take a moment with me. Can you recall ANY period of growth in your life that didn’t involve effort and discomfort? The truth is, ALL growth involves discomfort. I’m not trying to reinvent a truth here. This idea is not new. Rather, I think it would serve us all (especially this year) if we could rediscover what has ALWAYS been true. And that one thing is, in order to grow, we must do hard things. We must challenge ourselves and step outside our comfort zones. It’s how we have grown before, and it’s the only way we will grow for the rest of our lives.
So, while it may sound more appealing to take the “easy” road, and this world would have us all believe that our best life would be a life of completely avoiding responsibility and effort, we can’t avoid the hard things. We can only decide when to do them and how prepared we will be to handle the hard things life brings our way. You either do the hard thing of getting prepared, OR you deal with the harder thing: being UNprepared.
Resisting temptation? Hard. But not as hard as addiction.
Finding/keeping a job? Hard. But not as hard as unemployment and struggling to make ends meet.
When we fail to do hard things, we not only disobey God, but we also set ourselves up to fall short of our God-given potential. Even worse, we act as if God isn’t worthy of our effort. Or as if He is unable to accomplish through us what He alone has called us to do.
How can God be glorified when we limit ourselves to what comes easy? When we aren’t willing to do hard things? The Christian calling is hard, BUT, and please hear me when I say this, it is the ONLY calling worthy of such extraordinary effort. The history of scripture proves this to us: countless people endeavored to overcome difficulties, to not seek comfort, but rather do the hard and necessary thing for the greatest cause of all. Folks like Abraham, David, Paul, Peter, and of course the ultimate example of He who did any and all the hard things, Jesus himself. He did it all, and for the glory of God.
I’m so thankful I stumbled upon Hazel’s sweet little writing that gave birth to the not-so-new notion that we can ALL choose to live our best life, not our easiest, but our best; RIGHT NOW. Yes, smack dab in the middle of a COVID pandemic and when our world seems to be crashing down all around us. If you’re looking for something to give your life to, this is it.
We can be a people that rests easy in the hard. We can do this because we know and are assured, that we have a loving God who would never leave us as we are and who desires our growth in Him. He delights in all our feeble attempts to stumble with pitiful efforts to do the simplest hard thing for His glory.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Know this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. James 1: 2,3