4 lessons i learned in difficulty

20130813-221726.jpgwhen we think of life development and personal development, we hope the lessons aren’t too painful or don’t last too long.

we were freedom camping at the end of last year as our summer vacation (remember December is summer in NZ). one of my favorite things to do in NZ is to collect river stones. as the week days passed, i had gathered quite a collection of stones. my husband wanted to know what i planned to do with them all. he also had no faith that I could get them home. i had no idea what i’d do with them (at the time) but…excuse me, i would get them home!

my husband thinks this is an unusual pastime and often laughs. i once filled my backpack with stones and then climbed uphill for a couple of kilometres to get back home with them. it was worth it to me. besides, think of the great work out I received. you see, i killed two birds with one stone…so to speak 😎.

when we returned home from our vacation, we came face to face with a business dilemma. we thought this issue would last a short while but it turned into a 5 month test of faith (remember i said in my last post faith = what i believe).

for 5 months following our vacation, those river stones served as a visual reminder to my heart of times in my NZ journey that looked hopeless but weren’t.

when wondering through the wilderness, Israel set stone markers up along the way to remind them of the miraculous help they received from God in hard times. i followed their example.

lesson 1: don’t forget that when there seems to be no way out of difficulties, that God has always provided.

it’s nice to quote to my readers that we grow in hard times but unless i actually face a few hards times -growth doesn’t occur.

so, i set up 10 little piles of stones to remind me that each step of the way, i had seen provision before and i would again. i braced my heart and told myself, “you can do this, D!” after all, it was just a small gap to bridge.

so i thought.

first month went by. uncomfortable but bearable. i felt strong and probably a bit cocky.

second month…i didn’t exactly expect the gap to be this wide.

each day, i would walk past those stones and tell my heart, “you’ve been through tough times before. there has always been a way.” i believed this to my core. yet, i was beginning to feel really uncomfortable.

third month…not only was the gap widening but other difficulties were surfacing. difficulties that were challenging my heart to grow.

lesson 2: when hard times keep coming, there are lessons still to be learned. i read this quote the other day:

20130813-232600.jpgi began to notice that my heart was seeing things differently, it was more sensitive. i realized that i was gaining a deeper understanding for what people in similar situations might feel. something i had probably over looked too easily or maybe even dismissed. i was gaining new insight and understanding. my heart was softening (& i hadn’t expected that it would contain any level of hardness).

lesson 3: to be beneficial to others, the heart must see clearly. if the heart is too “inward” focused, it misses opportunities to share its gift with others.

fourth month…everything felt at risk. circumstances were bleak. no real solutions were presenting themselves and loss appeared inevitable. uncomfortable no longer described my situation.

lesson 4: i was learning the difference between what i wanted and what i needed. there is a difference, you know. a funny thing happens when you are used to getting what you want and then don’t…you either act like an adult and distinguish the difference or you act like a spoiled brat. i learned the importance of the difference. whew! good thing because lessons you don’t learn the first time get repeated.

fifth month…i would have laughed at what kept coming but by this time it was either sink or swim.

lesson 5: there is a need to learn how to receive graciously so that the gift that others have to share with me is not refused. we need one another. i love doing things for others. i enjoying giving but i don’t always know how to receive. i received such amazing support during this time -reminding me that others have special gifts that they need the opportunity to share and express. that is difficult on the pride but then again pride isn’t necessarily a good thing…is it?

there were times the past few months that could have been devastating. there were times that could have brought great fear. there were times that could have produced hopelessness.

yet, they didn’t. Difficult? Yes! Hard to breath or think at times? Yes, yes.

we made it through. Again.

a bit weary but stronger and wiser. Again.

faith tested- giving a deeper understanding of what we believe and why.

lessons learned- producing growth, and hopefully a more tender heart.

time to reach out and give, help, share and live in a deeper, richer way than before.

sometimes…if there is no pain, there is no gain. the muscles need to be strained for strength to be produced.

the soul and spirit need the same…producing a more beautiful heart and a richer life.

…the process is not fun but is beneficial!

life is a journey of faith.

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