The other night I was speaking to a dear friend who is going through some of the hardest things you can face in life. I felt helpless in the face of her need. This idea came to me. Hard does not always mean bad. Usually hard equals good...maybe not right away, but in the long term scheme of things. Let me give a simple example.
My parents enrolled me in piano lessons at the tender age of five. I was very, very excited. It seemed magical being able to coax music from those white and black keys. One of my earliest memories was pulling myself up to the piano, and being startled when I pushed a key and a note sounded.
My excitement soon waned in the face of practice. My good Mother insisted that I spend 1/2 an hour every single day with the instrument. This required self-discipline, a skill-set that I'm still struggling to master at the age of fifty-eight.
My Mother was the Mistress of Motivation. "Caroljoy, when you grow up you'll want to play for church. You'll want to play for youth group. You'll want to serve an LDS Mission, and they will need you to play the piano for the meetings."
Most of the time practice was sheer drudgery. I could NOT see the goal...it seemed far too far away!
I never became a concert pianist. On the other hand, I DID accompany people on my mission. I have accompanied congregants as they sang. I give direct credit to my Mama and my amazing piano teacher. They both supported and encouraged me, even though what I was doing was HARD for me.
That particular HARD was actually very, very GOOD. I gained a love and appreciation for the wonder of playing the piano, and being able to accompany others to sing.
At the time that seemed hard, but as my life has progressed I have faced many, many things that are MUCH HARDER. The hardest challenge of MY life thus far was watching my beloved husband of twenty-seven years develope a virulent infection called Sepsis. It took him four long days to die. Keeping watch over him during this time stretched my soul to places I did not want to go!
Obviously that experience was HARD! Most of it felt VERY BAD as well at the time. With time comes perspective. We were literally carried by our family and friends. They brought us meals to the hospital. They came with prayers and love.
Nyle's brother died at forty-two from Sepsis. His five children had no time to say good-bye to their beloved Dad. Saying good-bye to their Uncle Nyle helped them heal.
Our two daughters, and our neighborhood daughter had time to say good-bye. The experience was the very definition of the word BITTERsweet.
Is it possible to find good in hard? IT IS! Take ten minutes out of your life driven day. Sit down and think about those hards that you are facing. It will take courage, faith, and resilience to find joy when your world seems filled with challenge. On the other hand, most of the hards in my life have helped me to grow, stretch, learn, and improve.
The old axiom is the idea, "Do hard things make you BETTER or BITTER?" If your answer is BITTER. That is OK. For a little while. If you hang on to that bitterness, keep it tight to your heart, you will then spread it out to everyone in your sphere of influence. You will not only make yourself miserable, but all those that love you. Is this a lesson you want to teach by your example to your children, spouse, parents, siblings, etc. etc.?
"By the inch its a cinch, by the yard it is hard." If today is filled with really, really HARD things that border on BAD give yourself a five minute pep talk. Remind yourself of blessings in your life. Even if the best blessing you can think of is that you got to go to the bathroom...ALL BY YOURSELF! (No kids coming in, or plaintively calling out, "Mommy!") Counting your blessings is one of the ways to make BITTER BETTER and HARD , GOOD! Take small bites of the day, and keep moving forward. You'll be surprised at how much easier HARD is in the short run than than focusing on the long run.
When all else fails quote this mantra to yourself five times, "I CAN DO HARD THINGS!"