I’ve decided to try a bit of an experiment in my life right now. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, and I’m sure a lot of people already do this, but maybe you don’t so maybe it’s worth sharing.
It comes from an observation I’ve made about myself lately: I mostly resist the difficult things (and people) in my life. I resist them by complaining about them, by stewing over them, by blaming God and others for their part in them, by obsessively trying to fix them, by being angry about them, by being overly idealistic about how much better of a person I’ll be when they’re out of my life, etc. You know, just good old fashioned resisting.
I’m wondering if my resistance actually makes the difficult things even more difficult. Maybe their ‘difficulty level’ actually increases simply because I’m resisting.
My experiment is: to stop resisting the difficult things and to do my best to rename them as gift.
(OK, just to clarify: I don’t mean that I’m pasting a smile on or faking that I suddenly like the difficult things. I don’t mean that I’m going to just ignore them or somehow try to transcend them and their pain/discomfort/sadness with happy dust.)
I just really want to see if putting them in an entirely different “category” might change my posture toward them and relieve some of the resistance. Maybe it’ll change my posture toward pain and suffering in general. Maybe it’ll even change me.
God suggested this kind of shift with one difficult thing in my life several years ago. I was really struggling. It was physical, emotional, and spiritual. I was exhausted, angry, sad, and going crazy. The only possible “control” I could have taken over it was borderline unhealthy for me and for other people I care about.
Then one day I was praying through Psalm 23 and I got to “He makes me lie down in green pastures…He restores my soul.” I heard the still small voice of God in my head: “What if [this difficult thing] could be your green pastures? What if I could use this normally soul-ravaging thing to restore your soul?”
It helped. It didn’t make it suddenly easy, joyful, and wonderful! But it helped. In fact, that particular difficult thing is still a regular part of my life and it may be for the rest of my life. It is not different. But I am. I can even, very occasionally, find in my heart an ounce of gratefulness for it. I know, crazy, right?