Monday, September 24, 2018

Hardship and Softship

Everybody has problems. We grow the most through the difficult times. Everybody knows that. But no one wants the difficult times. They just come as a part of life.

And no two people experience the same level of difficulty. Some people scavenge for food, dodge bullets, face chronic pain, deal with depression, cope with financial pressure, struggle in relationships, fend off criticism, dread the future, or regret the past.

For others, life is easy. The bills are paid, people are healthy, work is rewarding, problems are few, the future looks bright.

Everyone experiences hardship and "softship." The degree of each varies with every individual. Sometimes I wonder what the perfect balance is.

And we actually do have some level of control in our balance of hardship and ease. We can load up our schedules with challenges. We can attempt difficult tasks. We can push ourselves to the limit with exercise or academics or business goals. When we do this, we create our own hardships, and we create opportunities for personal growth. Remember, we grow the most through the hard times.

So, we challenge ourselves and we grow.

But sometimes the challenges are not of our choosing. We have an accident, contract an illness, lose a job, lose a loved one. Or we lack education, live in a crime-ridden community, find ourselves betrayed.

Similarly, some good things are not of our choosing. You can't choose where you are born or your family of origin, whether good or bad. And, of course we all know people who just get all the breaks. They get the promotions, the looks, the health, the opportunities. They make the good grades without even trying. Everything comes so easily for them. Not much hardship there.

So, how do we find the balance of hardship and softship? Here are my thoughts.
  • Go for the challenges. Sign up for some hard things.
  • Embrace the unwanted struggles. You don't want them, but you can leverage them for powerful growth.
  • Trust God to bring the right balance. He wants you to thrive, and he wants you to grow.
  • Don't rob others of the growth that comes through struggle. Don't rescue too much.
Ultimately, the balance between hardship and softship is a mystery of life. We want to avoid the hard things, but they are the source of soul transformation. It's where we become all that God created us to be.