I sat on the bed of the fancy hotel room in Charleston with a fussy newborn finally, finally, asleep next to me, coverage of the Pope in Philly on the tv in front of me, eating leftover cold pizza from room service the night before because that same fussy newborn prevented me from eating it the night prior.
I had flown to Charleston to offer some words to wives of soldiers. I had flown to Charleston to speak to a group of women about being a military wife, rising above, staying steady, finding strength, choosing joy.
But as the weekend progressed, as I was immersed in military world once again, the same thought kept re-surfacing in my mind: Gosh. This is going to be so hard.
And it’s funny, because when I tell people that we are getting back into the military for Lane to become an Army Chaplain, I always get one of two responses. Either: “Wow. How do you feel about that?” OR, “Isn’t that going to be so hard?”
And so sitting on that fancy bed with the crisp white sheets, dropping pizza crumbs all over because life doesn’t operate by normal rules when you stay in a hotel, I had to offer myself the very same words with which I answer that question.
See, in asking “Isn’t that going to be so hard?” you’re really asking Can’t you avoid the hard? In asking that question, you’re really asking Why would you choose something that’s hard?
But I think that is missing the point.
Because what I have learned is that there is more to life than the absence of hard.
We can do everything we can to sanitize our life, keep it predictable, control the outcome, manage our situation and emotions and experience. We do everything we can to stay as far away from hard as we possibly can.
All the while forgetting that it is in the hard that we find strength. It is in the dark that we develop ruthless trust. It is in the uncomfortable that we grow.
If I pray for patience, I don’t think that God is going to suddenly fill me with patience. What he does is he puts me in situations that force me to be patient.
If I pray for peace, he is going to place me in situations which I have no control over and have to rely on him for guidance and trust that he is good no matter what.
If I pray for strength, instead of injecting me with supernatural strength, he is going to place me in situations that are harder than I could ever walk through alone and in which I have no other option than relying on him who gives me strength.
I think that instead of asking Isn’t that going to be hard? We should instead be asking Is this the circumstance that will develop the character of God within me?
We should instead be asking Is this the best path for my life?
And if the answer is yes, we go. Even if it’s hard.
I’m not saying it’s easy.
I’m not saying that I even necessarily enjoy it.
But I am saying that it’s worth it.
It’s worth it to step into unknown and uncomfortable territory. It’s worth it to embrace life’s hard. By stepping into situations that are bigger than us we experience a renewal, a strength, growth and life and connection that we wouldn’t have experienced had we stayed within our own predictable borders.
Whether it’s going into the military or adopting a child, whether it’s a hard medical diagnosis or another move, whether it’s a new job or a new baby or an old addiction.
We need to trust that God will show up in the hard.
And as we develop our own trust, our own strength, our own patience, peace, purpose, and joy we can then offer it to others as they go through life’s hard.
So take hope, friend, that as you might be walking into something hard, it never is the final step. As you step into hard, you also step into purpose, trust, community, authentic joy.
So have hope that hard is never the end.
It’s just the beginning.