If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
I can’t think of the person who first said this, but this little saying has been in my head for the past several days. In a world that praises convenience and efficiency, challenge is something that is to be avoided, not contended. You will see this saying posted in gyms and locker rooms, and it most certainly applies in those settings, but what about the other areas of our lives? What about our workplace, church, social circles, marriages and our children? Too often I find myself throwing in the towel when the going gets tough. At first, you would think we’d lost sight of the prize, so that the hard journey isn’t worth the rewarding destination, but it’s more likely that we don’t value the journey. We don’t see the value in the challenge, we see value in what ever mechanism helps us avoid the challenge.
Let’s say I wanted to visit the Grand Tetons from my home in Chattanooga, TN. The destination is the same no matter what method of travel I use, but depending on how I travel to the Tetons, my experience could vary greatly. If Scotty from Star Trek could “beam me up” and put me right on the peak, I would still have an incredible experience. I would see the same view, breathe in the same cold air, hear the same silence and smell the alpine forests as if I had flown in by plane. However, by flying in I would have seen so much more. I would have seen the Mississippi River and the Ozarks just to name a few of the sights. Now if I went by car I could not only see all of the sights from Tennessee to Wyoming, but I could experience them too. Walking, although the most challenging mode of travel, would offer the greatest depth of experience. Not only would I have seen, touched, tasted, heard and smelled more, but the final destination, the Grand Tetons, would be a greater climatic summit of my journey in lieu of everything else I experienced. Simply put, walking across the country would change me.
So, I’m not walking across the country… ever. What am I getting at?
Don’t be afraid of the challenges we face every day. Don’t sweep under the rug the argument you had with your spouse about finances. You need to face that challenge head on. It will change you. The possible reward? Having a budget you both agree on and accepting and appreciating previous differences with your spouse. That is a great reward to be had from that challenge.
Maybe a terrible coworker is driving you bonkers at work. You could avoid them altogether or accept the challenge of getting to know them a little better. The possible reward? Losing an enemy and making a friend.
Are the rewards guaranteed? Nope. But that’s why there is worth in the challenge too. Maybe by sitting down with your spouse and having that hard conversation you exercised and improved your patience. Perhaps by getting to know that crazy coworker a little better your heart became a little more compassionate, or your mind is a little more understanding of others. Challenge brings growth. Don’t always look for a way around the challenges you find in your day to day routine. I believe growth and maturity is a gift from God. Since that’s the case, I have a formula we need to remember.
growth and maturity = challenge = gift from God
If God didn’t want us to be challenged He would part the waters every time.