October 6: Write 31 Days: Life is Worth Living the Hard Way

I really didn't feel like writing today, but my husband suggested I at least write:

I don't feel like writing today.

...and calling it a wrap.

At least write something, he says. You should do it.

So I find myself here, typing on the outside and grumbling on the inside with every keystroke. It's funny how hard a simple task becomes when you really, really, really don't want to do it.

But if you don't keep your commitments when it becomes extremely difficult to do so, is it really worth doing at all?

Why commit to a marriage if you plan on giving up?

Why accept a new position if you don't plan on performing the required tasks?

Why pay for college courses if you don't plan on showing up half the time?

Why have children if you're not prepared to pour all your energy into raising them, every day?

I don't think the problem lies in people's intentions. Most people don't go into a marriage hoping that it fails, most people are excited about a new job, most prospective freshman have a world filled with possibilities at their fingertips, and most first-time parents are elated at the thought of a lifetime together with their new little bundle of joy.

The problem is most things in life are a lot harder then they initially appear, and what exasperates the already difficult situations people find themselves in, after assuming it would be all rainbows and unicorns, is that society doesn't portray an accurate picture of reality. People are not honest about their crap, and so, all these youngsters with their gaudy, over sized rose-colored glasses have a very skewed idea of what "normal" is. And when this ideal reality doesn't quite match up with their experiences, they think that there must be something wrong with them. That they're weird, or they must have messed up.

So they hide. Because they don't want all the other "normal" people out there knowing how screwed up they really are.

The problem is no one ever told them that life isn't easy. That things will not always be handed to you. That if you want to succeed at something, you're going to have to work really, really hard at it, even when you don't want to. Especially when you don't want to. That golden opportunities of being in the right place at the right time are few and far between, and that much of life is about putting in the time day in and day out.

The problem is that people are often a terrible judge of potential, and not succeeding in one area of life, like school, is no marker of success in the real world.

Geniuses have been deemed stupid because they don't fit into the traditional model of school.

Inventors have been labeled crazy for daring to dream that man could fly.

I have a child who drives me crazy, incessantly, because I feel like he's always learning things "the hard way." I think to myself, life would go much more smoothly if you just figured out how to listen in this area. If you could just fit into this little box during the time you're at school, there would be far less trouble. If you could turn off this behavior and fasten the shutters on that mouth during these interactions, life would be so much easier... for everyone else.

But it's the people who dare to press the boundaries, who have the audacity to question what has always been and instead ask what could be, who refuse to be put in a box so society as a whole could be more comfortable with their existence--it's those people who change the world.

There is a lot to be said about living Life the hard way:

It's hard not to give up when adulthood is being a total jerk and the deck is completely stacked against you in every area of life.

It's hard not to give up on a marriage when you don't even know the person on the other side of the bed anymore, when a few feet feel more like the entire frigid tundra of Antarctica.

It's hard to stick with a new job that turned out to be the opposite of what you had hoped for, a job you now loathe with each passing day.

It's hard to take care of every waking need of another human being, every moment of the day, regardless of your own physical, mental, or emotional state. It's hard to have little dictators, only three feet tall, running your life every stinking day.

Real life is hard, and we fail to talk about that.

We also don't mention nearly often enough that all the hard work is totally worth it, because it will end up being your life's work. The myriad of little decisions you make every day to do the hard things, to make the extra effort, to invest even when you're tired, even when you don't think you have anything left to offer, will eventually pay off, for we reap what we sow.

Sometimes, especially on the long, hard days, it seems as though the harvest will never grow. It's difficult, nearly impossible at times, to imagine a day of green fields when all you can see is drought.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. {Hebrews 12:1-3}

The fact is, life the hard way is really Life that is Truly Life. We press on through the hard things because that's what Jesus did for us. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Life that is Truly Life exists on the other side of pain. It's the miracle of a redeemed marriage, it's the story of perseverance transforming character, it's lessons learned in the trenches of helplessness and grief, it's the discovery that the same people who bring you the greatest heartache in life also bring you the greatest joy, and it's hope and promise. New life. True life.

An abundant harvest of blessings from the Lord.

When we ask God to move a mountain, God may give us a shovel. 
~Shane Claiborne