Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Challenge

Most days I wake up jovial. I wake up thankful to see another day so I view everything else as extra. The sun rise is extra. The roof over my head is extra. The clothes to choose from, job to go to, good morning text messages—all extra. There are other days that require more effort. I am still grateful, but in the midst of my gratitude something else tugs on me. Years ago I ignored the tugging. I ignored it because I felt guilty for being anything less than grateful. Yet it didn’t stop tugging, or go hide in a corner, or quietly leave the room. It would sit there tapping its foot, folding and unfolding its arms, impatiently waiting me out. I would try to cover it with more declarations of gratitude and it would clear its throat, shift its weight and eventually, throw a chair across the room and knock me over.

For many years I struggled with the concept of conflicting emotions. I thought it was impossible for me to be grateful and feel sad or be strong, but have bouts with weakness. As you can imagine, this didn’t bring me genuine gratitude or true strength. I was more confused than grateful and more oblivious than strong. I was defenseless because I couldn’t fight what I failed to acknowledge. I had to learn that a scuffle with sadness or weakness did not negate my being optimistic and strong. An occasional struggle is not a reflection of character—how you handle your struggle is a reflection of character.

Here’s the awesome part. I felt the tug of sadness and discontent because I had grown. I was more conscious of the instability and could no longer ignore what had been in my space the entire time. Previously I was not perceptive enough to sense its presence. As I grew, my level of awareness increased. The more I matured, the more I could discern sadness until finally, it felt large enough to knock me over. My sadness wasn’t growing, though, I was.

You face new challenges as you grow because your emotional state becomes more sensitive to instability. Whether your primary challenge is sadness, anger, disappointment, loneliness, grief, guilt, shame, or fear, as you grow, it will become impossible for you to ignore it. Over time what was a quiet nagging will start to ring in your ears. What was once slightly annoying will become intolerable. That’s the bad news. The good news, though, is that your challenge isn’t growing, you are. You are the one that is getting stronger. You are the one that has more influence. You are the one that will have the last word. Appreciate the growth. Stand up to the challenge. It is time.

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