One of the things I love about my profession, is always meeting fascinating people with amazing stories. The stories we have in us, our experiences and what we’ve learned from them, are treasures no one can take from us. And our specific blend of experiences is what makes us who we are today.
When I was younger, I used to think, “If I could just do that over, if that hadn’t happened, if this one thing would have gone right…” somehow I would have a better life, be happier, be wealthier, or have more faith.
But that isn’t even close to true. They were hard lessons to be sure, but even as painful as they were, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Without a trial there is no triumph. Without triumph, you have no lasting treasure.
A fellow encourager recently posted a Lisa Nichols video, [see link below.] in which she talked about her extremely difficult circumstances as a single mother with her baby son. Her delivery of lessons learned from that time was like watching an acorn spike into a sapling. She made a decision on that day, “I will never be this broke or broken again.” That difficulty was the impetus that led to discovery.
I see how the struggle strengthens us and leads us to abilities and gifts we didn’t know we were capable of. It taps something deep inside us that says, grow! Break out! Keep going! It awakens in us a desire for change.
Some in Lisa’s situation might have given up and accepted that as their lot in life. Lisa could have looked for the next plateau of comfort, doing the minimum to get to the next better place. But she couldn’t stop there any more than a chick can peck himself out a window to see and say, “I can see from here. I can breathe, I’m good.” For the chick to stop there is certain death.
Consider the caterpillar wrapped in a cocoon. To find release, it must want it with every microgram of its body. Using everything at its disposal, it twists and tears and wrenches against that casing, that old environment of safety and shield. It must press, fight, and push its way out of a protective but limiting environment. What was once necessary is now a liability. If the caterpillar stays inside, it will die. Everything that the caterpillar was to this point, isn’t enough to carry it forward into the next phase of life.
It must desire to go beyond the known into the unknown. It must leave the familiar for the mysterious. But in that cocoon, in the transition stage, it “suddenly” has new tiny limbs it didn’t have before.They were there just when they were needed. It never had limbs before, and at first these they are weak. But with each motion they become stronger. As the wings and limbs press with more force, the cocoon cracks open. Each glimpse of the world beyond the walls inspires it to keep fighting. Each movement is a step toward freedom.
But without the struggle, the butterfly’s wings will never be strong enough to fly. The environment that the young insect must break out of is just thick enough, just harsh enough, just constraining enough to strengthen the wings, which must carry the butterfly through the rest of its life.
What does this mean for you?
You are guaranteed to have trials and troubles. You could let it ruin you. You could give up and say it’s too much effort, life is just too hard. You can live a small life. You might even let them define you. You can keep hoping for an unchallenging, easy life, feeling burdened by the challenges that get thrown your way. You can live a pretty good life.
To live your best life, you could ask yourself what can I learn from this? How can I make this lesson work for me? You could challenge yourself, What if I keep pressing forward? How will my life be better? How can I become better, stronger, and tougher?
You might tell yourself it won’t always be like this and find a reason to get up and a reason to fight. No one can do it for you, like that butterfly, you have to want it with all your being. If you keep chipping away at where you are to get to where you want to be, your wings will unfurl and you’ll be stronger than you ever thought you could be. On the other side of it is the best part. The hard stuff led up to it. If you’re not there yet, the best part of your life is still ahead.
Even though you’ve never flown before, you can go forward into the untried and new because you earned that pair of wings, their yours. Don’t give up, take those wings you’ve never known and never owned before and soar!
What are you struggling with this week? No matter how tough it seems, it can always get better. Get incredibly encouraged by this Lisa Nichols video!