I was recently listening to a podcast called Around the Table. They discussed an interesting question.
What are you willing to struggle for?
I thought it was an interesting question because I believe it reveals alot about what’s in our hearts. It also reveals the truth about what we really value verses what we say we value.
Because it is a natural human response to avoid pain and hardship, when one chooses the path that brings pain–especially when there is an easier alternative, it reveals alot. No one chooses pain, unless it results in some great motivation or reward.
Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, because of the joy to come.
The writer of Hebrews teaches that we should not despise discipline because the pain of discipline will produce righteousness and peace if will cooperate with the training process. James teaches that we should consider it a joy when we endure all kinds of hardship because of the lasting good it produces in us.
Lasting Joy, and peace are things worth suffering for.
It’s one thing to talk about what we should be willing to suffer for. It’s another thing to talk about what we’ve actually been willing to suffer for.
Let me start by sharing some things I realize I’m not willing to suffer for (or have my family suffer for):
- to be debt free
- to have my ideal body
- to have a lot more money
- to have a retirement fund
- to have a beautiful home
- to have people think highly of me
- to meet other people’s expectations
- to meet my own high (unrealistic) expectations
- to recycle all of my glass, plastics, etc.
- to eat organic or grassfed or paleo or non-gmo
- to have a clean, organized home
- to wear cute, high heel shoes
- to wear name brand clothing
I’m not saying I don’t want any of these things. I’m just not willing to suffer for them or have my family suffer for them. At least not at this point in my life.
Here’s a few things I have been willing to suffer for:
- I’ve been willing to give up sleep, time, energy and financial resources so my children can participate in athletic activities
- I’m willing to give up free time in order to mentor women.
- I’m willing to give up having a clean house, so that I can have peace in my home.
- I’m willing to give up going a mission trip this summer, so that I can help to provide financially for my family.
- I’m willing to work out several days a week for my health and enjoyment
- I’m willing to invest my time every week serving through the Prayer Cafe
- I’m willing to give up a career so that I can educate my children from home and be available to support them
- I’m willing to invest time writing for the benefit of others
- I’m willing to spend the time cooking food from scratch in order to save money and provide satisfying meals
- I’m willing to sacrifice a week every summer serving at-risk children at Camp Nikos
- I’m willing to read and study the Bible daily
Pondering this question is so powerful because it separates the:
“This is what I’d like to have.”
“This is what I should be doing.”
“This is what I’m actually willing to do.”
It’s a great way to get honest about what’s really important and what’s not. Once we realize what we really value, it can help to free us from false guilt or from trying to do something that’s not as important as we’d like it to be.
Last summer I was taking a cross training class. It was hard. I loved and hated that class. I liked the idea of pushing myself. I liked the idea of being in a community class. But I didn’t like the toll it took on my body. The soreness. The time it took for my body to recover. The sacrifice was more than what I wanted, yet I felt like I should be there because it was good for me. So I went every week with dread, and some bitterness for a class that was too much for me.
It would take hours for my body to cool down and I would feel run down for the rest of the day. I also had a hard time doing the other things I wanted to do that day. Nobody made me take this class. It was my choice.
Finally, it dawned on me. I didn’t need to take this class! It didn’t fit my needs, and I was trying to make it work. All the while, feeling frustrated. So one Saturday, on my way to class, I decided not to go anymore. Oh my goodness! A burden was lifted! I still wanted to work out, but now I was free to do something I enjoyed and that better suited my needs.
Now I spend Saturday mornings jogging and walking, and praying. I enjoy the beautiful day. I think. I pray. I listen to God speak to me. I run. I push myself as hard as I want to push myself. No one is yelling at me to go harder. I don’t need to go harder. I’m getting just what I need and I look forward to my exercise time.
I’m not willing to suffer to be in better shape.
I also decided that I’m not willing to suffer the pain of being on an intense diet in order to have my ideal body, or to have “perfect” health. I feel well. I feel strong. I’m enjoying life. I’m able to do everything I need and want to do. I’m not suffering for someone else’s “shoulds”.
I’m not willing to push through tremendous obstacles for things that aren’t important TO ME.
I’m enjoying the freedom of being honest with myself. I have one life to live, and I don’t have time to live for what others say should be important to me. I don’t have time to live in guilt when I don’t live up to the expectations of should.
What about you? Are you ready to get honest with yourself?