Saturday, January 08, 2011

Lesson from Life, 3

"Life is difficult. This is the great truth, one of the greatest truths—it is a great truth because once we see this truth, we transcend it." M. Scott Peck

Early in our marriage, before children, Ed and I did some hiking, camping, and mountain climbing. Hiking in the mountains was always an adventure.
We had to be in pretty good shape because of the altitude and the terrain. Our bodies would still get weary. We would be going up an incline, not sure how far it was to the top, then we would reach a plateau.

Donna hiking in Colorado, circa 1970's
What a relief! The strain on our muscles and our lungs would diminish. We could walk on level ground for awhile, but there was always another hill to climb, a never ending series of jagged points to transcend.

Why did we go through such strain on our bodies?

Regardless of the physical strain, the beauty of the journey made it worth the work.

Did we go on those hikes thinking it would be easy? No, we were smarter than that. We knew we would have tight lungs and burning legs. We did it anyway.

Was it worth it? You bet. Thoughts of those days bring joy to my heart and gratitude in my soul for the experience. The experience was worth the work.

I don't always approach life the same way. I don't know if it is our highly developed industrialization and technology, but for some reason, I think we shouldn't have so many struggles and painful experiences.

I remember what a shock life was in my 20's. I thought I had it figured out. I knew I would be successful, be a perfect wife with a perfect home. I came face to face with the fact that much of what I thought I knew wasn't working.

In a past ministry, I had the opportunity to see college students come and intern with us during the summer. I watched them look for "the key" to life and happiness. Some came to realize that there isn't a key. Life is a journey of hard places and plateaus. No matter how hard we work we will still have steep, hard climbs when we can't see where we are going.

As I go through this period of grief after the loss of my mother, I think about what a lousy system we have on earth. We experience great joy with a new birth, but great grief when life leaves. The cycle is inevitable.

Then I am reminded that we were not created for this world. God's intention is for us to live eternally. When we lose sight of our eternal nature, the difficulty of this life overwhelms us. We live in a fallen world that is difficult. As M. Scott Peck reminds us, the sooner that realize and accept that life is difficult, the less difficult it becomes. We quit expecting things to be different. We enjoy the journey, however it looks or feels, knowing the peaks offer incredible views of life. God promises us that He will give us the strength for the climb.

The same concept applies to marriage. Many people encounter that unrealistic expectation in marriage without seeing the beauty of the journey together (see my article). Marriage takes work, but don't forget the fun (re: lessons from life,2) The marriage journey challenges me over and over, but my "marriage legs" are getting stronger. The climb is not as hard; we enjoy more plateaus and scenic look-outs than I would have ever envisioned.

Life is difficult, accept it, and enjoy the view.