I wrote about success a few weeks ago. Since then, I have been thinking about something that may seem contrary to success but, I think, is not really not so far away after all…..
I’ve been thinking a lot about struggle. For much of my life, I sought a way to avoid any and all struggle. But then, a few years ago, I met my current spiritual director and after sharing my struggle to avoid struggle with her, she informed me that I was going about things all wrong. My wise, patient, wonderful spiritual director told me then (and has reminded me nearly every time I’ve seen her since) that it is in the struggle that we are made holy.
I’ve since come to understand a few things about the struggles of life—
1. There is no shame in struggle. I would love for everyone to see me as perfect. I would love to be perfect but the reality is: I’m not. I struggle. That's just because I care. I care about being a better, holier person and I am aware there is a lot of room for improvement. And, through my struggle, s-l-o-w-l-y, I am being made holy. It is a long process for some of us but it is a process and as I struggle to overcome my weaknesses, my shortcomings, my struggles- I am growing along the way.2. Struggles are unavoidable. No one lives a life void of struggles and if they are-- they are stagnant and too stuck in their comfort zones. One of the priests I most admire in the world used to say it was his job to “comfort the challenged (read struggling) and challenge the comfortable.” I love that. His point was, of course, that we should never rest in comfort but always strive for something better. Oftentimes that means we must struggle in order to move forward in our faith journey.3. Struggles often bring about our greatest lessons and serve as our greatest means to growth. I guess this point is really just reiterating what I’ve already said. But like a good workout where no pain means no gain, life’s struggles make us stronger. Sometimes those struggles strengthen us by knocking us to our knees and revealing where we should rely more on God’s strength. Either way- on our knees in weakness and surrender or, through God’s grace, finding it within ourselves to stand strong in the face of adversity, we are better when we persevere through the rough spots of life.4. Despite the struggles of life and the hardships that may come our way- we should always face our days with JOY! Struggle is never an excuse to abandon our faith or to discount the command that we should be joyful unto the Lord. The devil loves for us to feel discouraged and the struggles of life can certainly threaten to bring us to that point. If we turn to Our Lord in all things though and give our lives completely to Him, we can experience true and lasting joy even in struggle. This has been a tough lesson for me and sometimes, I still struggle with it- but I’m learning and I’m growing and in the struggle I am undoubtedly being made holy.
For more on this subject from others much wiser than me :) Check out this post from Conversion Diary on Survival Mode and this post from Raising Homemakers on Being cheerful!