A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a “Wild at Heart Boot Camp” in Colorado put on by John Eldredge and his team at Ransomed Heart. If you’ve traveled to the mountains from Dallas before, you know that it’s either a really, really long car/bus ride, or a plane ride followed by a drive through mountain switchbacks. I’ve learned that, no matter what, getting to retreat to the beauty of the mountains will mean taking the time to turn every winding corner. For me, this trip included both buses and planes. By the time I got to the bus riding part, I was already going on 12 hours of traveling, including flight delays and cancellations, 4 1/2 hours of sleep and zero cups of coffee.The feeling of being out of control in my schedule, combined with increasing exhaustion, left me feeling frustrated with my circumstances.  Luckily for me, my brother and a buddy of mine joined me on this crazy adventure and were sitting just a few rows in front of me. Rather than focusing on what I could be frustrated about, I ended up being encouraged by these truths that extended beyond my circumstances.

  1. Difficulty is inevitable, not optional.

We live in a world that is not as it was created to be.  Regardless of where we land on issues concerning God, or a creator of sorts, we all have experienced the brokenness of this world and have struggled through various degrees of personal pain. If our goal in life is to create a pain-free life, free of hardship, we have the wrong goal. A more fruitful goal would be learning how to deal with brokenness and difficulty as it arises.  During my crazy day there was nothing I could do to prevent or even minimize difficulty. For all you “go getters” out there who desire to make change happen, yes, we tried different flights, talked to the people behind their desks and their managers and attempted to escape our difficult circumstance. However, we couldn’t opt out of the situation we were put in. We shared our frustration and reminded ourselves of things we can control and the things we can’t control. Instead, we shifted our time, energy and effort to what we can control, like how we spent our time at the airport.  Are you spending more time on things you can control or things you can’t control?

  1. We all see the world through various lenses at different times.

It’s easy to ask the question “Why ME?” as opposed to simply “Why?”  Whether we realize it or not, we each view life through various lenses at different times. For me, the lens that I was looking through at the airport was a victim or self-pity lens: “Southwest Airlines is cramping my style with all these delays.” A different, more healthy lens, could have shown me this perspective: “It’s a bummer that the weather is really bad today and that is super inconvenient.” Sometimes, even vocalizing our thoughts can help us become more aware of what lens we’re looking through. Even as I type it out, it is clear to me that  Southwest Airlines was not intentionally TRYING to make my life difficult. However, the situation was definitely an inconvenience that I felt wronged in. Are you aware of the lens you are viewing the world through?

  1. Life is better when shared with other people.

Experiencing the inconveniences, difficulties and changes of my day of traveling with friends made it way more bearable and less lonely.  When left alone with my frustration and loneliness it is easy for me to withdraw and “check out”. Loneliness can quickly turn into irritability and isolation if kept to myself and not shared with others.  In the midst of a day that seemed full of inconvenience and mediocre airport meals, I engaged in meaningful conversation with my brother and a great friend. We were able to laugh together as well as encourage and challenge one  another also. When’s the last time you enjoyed time with friends? What’s getting in the way of this?

Whether you’re traveling, sitting at a desk, or simply enjoying your day, I encourage you to consider the truths above.  You have a unique story and, since life is ever-changing, our circumstances can impact our story. So, if you are in a season of life with very little difficulty, seeing life through a healthy lens and regularly sharing life with others, pause and be grateful! If difficulty is very real and seems to be hiding behind every turn you make, remember difficulty is inevitable and you are not alone.  You do not have to endure struggle by yourself. Reach out to a friend or family member to invite them into your difficulties. Remember, life is better when shared with other people!

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