Remember that movie you watched recently? You know, the one where the protagonist enters the story and everything is easy and comfortable. It had that sequence where every single outcome goes his way, and then he goes home, eats his favorite meal, and sleeps on a nice comfy bed. There was even an end-credit scene about his restful REM sleep.
What? You don't recognize this movie? That's because studio executives would get fired (and possibly assassinated) if they even considered this screenplay.
Every good story requires a struggle. Our favorite films are full of tension, heartache, and adversity, each testing the resiliency of those involved. A story without character development is boring and lacks impact.
If that's the case, why do we expect anything different in our lives?
I've always wrestled with that question. I want things to be easy. I want things to be comfortable. I'm willing to tolerate adversity, but only if it's short and produces a predictable and favorable outcome. Yet I also want to grow as a leader and as a husband. I want to mature and make an impact in the world. And I'm inspired by the stories of people who have faced adversity and thrived.
The last few years have forced me to confront this issue in my life. My expectations of comfort and safety have kept me stuck and limited the impact and influence I can have. Grief, heartache, career change, financial challenges, and medical issues have been a catalyst for growth in my life. I would like to use these as an excuse, "see, all these things keep happening to me. Life's not fair." Or, I can see this as a normal part of life and begin to write a different script for my story.
The most important part of the story is not the resolution. It's the process. Each of us are faced with a choice: choose the easy path and make ZERO impact on the world around us, or commit to seeing the struggles around us as an opportunity for growth and transformation. Not just for our benefit, but those around us who are desperately looking for hope.
Here's the hard reality: adversity transforms us, regardless of how we choose to respond. We are either transformed into a bitter, calloused person with minimal capacity for love and concern for others. Or, we are transformed into individuals with compassion and empathy. We become people who see the suffering of others and feel compelled to help. We learn how to put on our big boy pants when things get tough instead of locking ourselves in our bedrooms to play the newest Call of Duty game.
Hardship doesn't approach you like your friends did when you were 8, ringing your doorbell to see if you'll come out and play. "Um, hi, I was wondering if little Ricky wanted to come out and experience some heartbreak and challenging circumstances that will really push the limits of his emotional coping skills. Oh, he says that sounds terrible and wants to stay inside? Ok then, thanks anyways..."
John 16:33 is a scripture that both challenges and brings hope: "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, I have overcome the world." We can find hope knowing that while the circumstances may be unique, we are not alone in our hardship and suffering. This wasn't said by some guy who got C- on a midterm and had an ingrown toenail. These words were spoken by Jesus mere hours before he voluntarily turned himself over into Roman captivity to be beaten, mocked, and crucified. He doesn't ask us to do something he wasn't first willing to do. And as a result, millions of people have found hope and transformation over the course of history.
How will we respond to adversity? Will our resiliance bring hope and courage to others enduring hardship? Or will we be victims, enslaved to our circumstances.
The struggle is real. And it's transforming us, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Join The Conversation
Are you in them midst of some challenging experiences? Can you think back to a moment in your life where adversity changed you? Was it a positive change? Or a negative one? Share your thoughts and comments below.
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