Is Struggle a Distraction or a Necessity?
Struggle makes us strong. I’ve had dreams and goals for a lot of my life. I imagine that’s true of you, too. One of the things I have consistently asked of Spirit is to help me become the person who can create my dreams, which got me to thinking about what is needed to create a life I wanted to live—and it wasn’t what I initially thought.
Things Are Not the Dream
As human beings we need things. Things make us feel happy and safe, creating a container of sorts so we have the energy to pursue our biggest goals. But… the pursuit of the “things” we need can also distract us from our own evolution in becoming who we need to be in order to become the people who can achieve our dreams. The “things” are not the dream, they are in service of the dream, and we can easily get that mixed up. The purpose and place of “things” really comes home to me during my yearly desert sabbatical, or more commonly, on my hikes in the Colorado Rockies.
Here are some things I learn, or re-learn from time alone in wild places:
- Embrace simplicity. To use a backpack for the day’s food, shelter and clothing I have to be ultra creative. Just necessities.
- Have zero expectations. This allows me to live in the moment and embrace any weather, any terrain, the aches and pains, and the beautiful sights that always surprise.
- Embrace hardships; stay sharp. Stuff happens in the natural world. Fortunately I haven’t been the “victim” of tragedy yet but I was once on a mountain when I man slipped to his death, I also had to call in a helicopter for a fellow hiker who shouldn’t have been on the trail in the first place, and was part of another shattered leg rescue. Stuff happens.
- The ‘real’ world isn’t built for comfort. As microcosms of real life, trails are tough: steep, rocky, slippery. Rocks aren’t flat, grassy areas are wet, bugs keep you moving.
- Sometimes the path isn’t clear. Trails can fade to nothing, cairns can disappear or mislead if pointing in the wrong direction.
- The voices I hear are IN my head. When I am alone in the middle of nowhere and the voice in my head is telling me I’m doing something wrong; I have to admit that I’m talking down to my own myself.
- My biggest conclusion? Life isn’t meant to be easy. Struggle is needed and the natural world provides that just by being itself.
The Gift of Struggle
When my kids were in elementary school the principal sent home an article, the title of it was Give your Kids the Gift of Struggle. It was about letting them figure out their homework or do their own science projects etc, which I was inclined to do anyway, but I thought it interesting that a principal would emphasize the importance of struggle. It makes us strong. We fight against it, but it is how we become fully developed humans. I think it’s similar to a butterfly busting out of its cocoon. Did you know that if you help a butterfly get out of it’s cocoon it won’t be able to fly? It needs that struggle to get the fluid into its wings. I have grown to love the idea of the (yes) gift of struggle. Not when I am the one struggling, of course, but for everybody else. [smile]
Mature, Complete, Lacking Nothing
My life has been fraught with struggle. I hated it at the time but I know for sure I am a different person today because of it. I like to think I am a better person for it. There’s a Bible verse that says “Consider it pure joy…when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.“ I think the faith it is speaking of is faith in my own abilities as a Divine Spark, a trust that life is unfolding as it should, that the trials are for my higher good. Becoming mature and complete and not lacking anything is a nice payoff. What that looks like is different for each one of us. For me it’s about being so deeply centered and at peace that life’s circumstances don’t knock me out or take me over. Allowing struggle to do its perfect work has made me equal to my life.
We Need to Struggle to Grow Strong
When I am out in the extreme desert winds I watch the flowers being blown sideways and pelted with sand. I wonder how they can not only survive it, but remain beautiful. It is part of their beauty. They need the wind to grow strong. We need adversity to grow strong and come into our own. AND struggle by definition is difficult. Having support and guidance can make all the difference. We can stumble through on our own taking decades, or with some guidance, chunk it down to a few years, or even a few months depending on how far you are on the journey. It is so worth it to become whole. I’ve become an important guide to a lot of people. I’m here if you want to learn, grow, and move into wholeness in your own life.