It was a time of nervousness. I was about to be the proud father of someone we named ‘number 3’ (we didn’t want to find out the sex before he was born so we could enjoy the surprise). Number 3 was to be the last of the clan as neither my wife nor I could foresee a day when we would want ‘number 4’. As a result, I was left with mixed emotions.
On the one hand it was nice to know this would be the last crying machine that might keep me up in the night, but at the same time not so nice to think about the last, football sized cuddle bundle sleeping on my chest every day. Nice to think number 1 and number 2 would now have someone else they can hang out with, not so nice to think that one of them would be the odd one out (we already had 1 boy and 1 girl, someone is going to be disappointed!).
The arrival of a child is a mixed bag of surprises. We do it because as much as we don’t like the negatives (does anyone like being spit up on?) we like the positives more (who doesn’t enjoy the cuddles?). We’re willing to put up with a few discomforts, some extra expense and slightly more occasional stress, because we appreciate and value the experiences of love and joy that come along also. Like most things in life, it seems that to appreciate and experience the truly good, we must be willing to endure a little of the not so good.
Whether it’s a job we don’t enjoy but put up with for the paycheck, or a car we drive that we really don’t like but persevere with because of its usefulness, we can all relate. It’s not a negative, even though some would rather avoid them. We shouldn’t be hoping to only get the good without a little not-so-good. There isn’t a magic formula someone can sell (no matter how much they promise) that will transform your life in 3 weeks or less for only 4 payments of $99.99 and so we’re left with the conclusion that we NEED a little tension to produce the best version of us we can be.
- A caterpillar NEEDS to break through it’s cocoon as part of its development process before it can become the butterfly.
- An athlete NEEDS to push in training to improve on their performance because that’s how the muscles stretch.
Without pain, there is no gain. Nothing genuinely worth anything in life comes easy and that’s the beauty of it, We need to push and stretch in order to feel that sense of satisfaction, that sense of worth and that sense of achievement. We’re built that way.
Sometimes, folks look at God as the easy option, the choice of emotionally ‘weak’ people that can’t get through life without some invisible crutch to lean on, but that’s simply not the case. Sure Jesus died on our behalf and paid a fine we could never afford to pay, but that doesn’t mean Christianity is for the un-winners? Believing in God takes faith, which is something that’s developed and honed over time. It takes strength of character (to accept someone you can’t see). It takes discipline, and heaps of it, to study a book so big and so complex it might literally keep your head spinning for the rest of your life.
Did you know the odds of 40 different authors from different cultures and educational levels managed to write about the same theme in unity, harmony and cohesiveness over a period of 1400 years are the same as a chimpanzee going into a scrap metal yard and coming out a week later with a fully functioning, fully working Boeing 747.
It takes dedication to commit yourself to a life that starts each day with quiet time, chatting to the ‘big man upstairs’ whenever time can be found to do so, learning to put a higher purpose in front of your desperation for coffee (ok, you can always make the coffee first).
It takes courage to hold on to your faith when everything around you seems as though it’s falling apart, even though you don’t ‘deserve’ it because you’re a good person.
Ultimately, it takes conviction, an inner sense of doing the right thing, recognizing that no matter how much you tell yourself, you aren’t perfect, will never be perfect, and that’s ok.
When I was around 13 years old I went to the movies to watch Batman, with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson (the best batman movie ever!). In one scene, the joker is talking to Vicki Vale and makes a statement that is so good it’s stuck with me for over 30 years. Ready?
“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs”.
Simple, yet so profound, and applicable to so many areas of our lives. When we take the easy road it’s the same as making the omelet without breaking the egg. It’s impossible.
- We must break the egg to free what’s inside.
- We must break the egg so we aren’t eating shell.
- We must break the egg because that is the only way we’ll EVER make the omelet.
So what is there in our lives that we need to break, in order to free up the real treasure within? What ‘easy’ option have we been trying to take that’s yielding no results. Just like an egg rolling around next to the pan, no omelet appears until it’s cracked and broken apart so the inside can get out.
Are we willing to fight, to push and press into the hard option facing us so we can succeed? That’s what success is, overcoming something instead of it being handed to us. Would it be crazy if we started looking for the tough decisions, knowing they’re the ones that really matter? Would it be crazy if we started choosing the difficult path, knowing that something better is at the end of that road compared to the easy option we already know?
It’s through those obstacles we grow, in every way. Part of that growth leads us closer to Jesus, who himself chose the difficult path so he could help us on ours.