Thursday, March 22, 2018

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: It's the Challenges that Form

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's the Challenges that Form

Most of us like  to hear praise and encouragement; there's no doubt about it; and most of us enjoy standing on the pinnacle and gazing down the mountain at the conquered rocky slope, and I am no exception.

However, it's the dark, solitary, teeth-gnashing, gut-wrenching, clawing-through-challenges--despite, doubt, pain, loneliness, weariness, failure, etc.--that press, shape, and mold us into the people we are continually becoming and striving to be.

So when I encounter those circumstances in my life--and I have experienced one or two--and I'm uncertain whether I can or should keep plowing resistant furrows, and assuming the task is in the will of God for me, I grab a symbolic looksie into the mirror and ask myself one question: How badly do I want this?

It's no secret I'm a technological and software dummy. During the early editing and formatting stages with Bryony, shifting text, and the perpetual resetting page breaks, was hugely frustrating for me (an understatement).

One night, after I had already missed bedtime by hours and would greet the day by delivering mountains of papers wayyyyy too soon, and my flaccid attempts to halt the shifting again failed, I absolutely cracked.

Clutching handfuls of manuscript, I flew down the ladder, screaming, "It's wronnnnnggggggggg," to anyone in earshot. Timothy and Rebekah were hanging out in the kitchen and talking, but paused to gaze at me as if I had gone insane.

After a few minutes of ranting, raving, foot-stomping, thumping Timothy's back, and a spewing of colorful language, I marched back up the ladder and began resetting page breaks (Keep in mind this was a six hundred page manuscript). Rebekah was right behind me with a stern, "Go to bed!"

And my equally terse reply was, "Not until I make a dent." And I stoically reset another break.

Months later, I shared that scene with my book designer, Serena Diosa, and she, bless her, laughed heartily and offered to show me a simple technique to prevent shifting text. What an insightful moment. If only I'd had that information at the beginning, I could have avoided hours of mistakes. Yet, the incident was a valuable one for me because I was truly considering quitting altogether.

What stopped me? I really, really wanted to take this project all the way to the conclusion. I didn't want to just see the promised land. I wanted to stand on it, walk through it, claim it, SEIZE IT!

So, I started over.

Today, that scene is often replayed in my household. Whenever someone encounters a problem that appears too big to handle, a hurdle so enormous the goal no longer seems worth it, I only have to say, "Page breaks," and then ask the question, "How badly do you want this?"

Now someone in the throes of distress might prefer a bit of warm and fuzzy coddling and a soft, "There, there," and there are appropriate times for meting it out, for applying the soothing salve of, "You can do this," and "I believe in you," etc. But when you've lost your footing on a perilous ledge, a sweet utterance is not the solution.

Sometimes, what a person wants and needs are completely different. Too often, we leave behind an undesirable situation, only to repeat it, with different circumstances and people, perhaps, but our pattern of approach and behavior, even with slight modifications, is too predictably similar to produce the end we desire.

When an individual is battered and banged with defeat and discouragement and on the verge of abandoning the prize, tauntingly in sight and still so elusive, the needed remedy is really to quickly bandage up those wounds, deliver an unkind nudge into the nether regions, and harshly remind the person the consequences of forsaking the quest.

May you always have both kinds of people in your life, those that comfort, buck up, and applaud you, but, most importantly, those who command you out of the cozy places to meet, head-on and with open eyes, the awaiting destiny.

Lazarus might have felt blissfully peaceful inside the tomb, but Jesus' firm, "Lazarus, come out!" opened up an unbelievably new existence for the man.

You will stumble through dimly lit, uncharted territory. You will kiss the dirt. You'll greet uncertainty. You'll take wrong turns. You'll grow increasingly aggravated and pissed off at the circumstances and the people shoving you forward, at the ones offering dangling carrots.

And yet, it's really the only way to reach the joys of the peak.

So, what's on your "bucket list?

How badly do you want it?

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