There’s the story of a Rabbi who told his students that if they studied the Torah it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The Rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your hearts, and then when your hearts break, the holy words fall inside.”
This parable marches us toward the top two things we need to know about hardships and pain:
1. We learn more from hardship than from facts.
I once believed reading books on humility would make me more humble, more forgiving, and more loving. It was never enough. It often takes pain and hardship to throat-punch the pride out of me. It has taken doses of them both to break my heart so that humility might fall inside. No, I’m not saying I’m humble (Ha! How prideful!). But I gotta believe from time to time little humility sprigs poke through my life like wild flowers through cracked concrete.
2. We grow more from hardship than from comfort.
Celebrity actor, Rob Lowe, writes, “You stop growing emotionally the very moment you become famous.” Makes sense. Fame and fortune makes it really easy to pad one’s life. But the same goes for us regular folk who go out of our way to cushion our lives too.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for pain to show up on my porch. But it will. Inevitably. What then? Rage against it? Or is there another way? What if we viewed pain as a teacher instead of an intruder? A guest instead of an enemy? And dare I say, thank God for it?
I admit, it’s nearly impossible to do pain and hardship well. If you’re like me, I don’t start with what I can learn from it, but with how I can run from it.
After all, it’s easy to read books on personal growth while sipping ice coffee at Starbucks. Yet, as Lowe implies, it often takes hardship and pain to crack the concrete so seeds of strength, humility, perspective, gratitude, and love can fall inside… and then poke through.
What has hardship taught you? What sprigs have poked through your life as a result?
BEFORE YOU GO:
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