This week I received an email from someone that reminded me of something true, and I wonder if you’ll feel the same. The woman who wrote this email is not someone I knew at the time. And this is her story:
“…at the time I was struggling as a first time mom at age 35 and staying home with my baby after years in the professional world….and you said to me “How is it going?” I think I must have given you a look of exasperation because you then said “It’s difficult isn’t it?” This was the first time in my 3 months of being a mom that someone acknowledge how difficult it truly is being a mom. Up the that point people just looked at me funny when I described how much trouble I was having adjusting and I felt like a freak.”
I think there is no greater crippling lie than believing that easy = good. But that’s what we hear, messages from everywhere. I love cooking shows but I often find myself wanting to yell at Giada, with her perfect hair and skin, her nails clean and manicured, I want to yell at that image “your food looks great but I know it was hard to make it! Where’s the prep cook chopping all those perfectly squared vegetables? Where’s the busboy cleaning up that truckload of dishes you just created? Where’s the nanny holding your baby so she’s not gripping at your knees and whining for a cookie?? COME ON GIADA THIS ISN’T REAL LIFE!”
I have serious issues, but you already knew that.
But when I get emails like this, I am reminded that these are issues we all face, starting with this bold lie that slips down into the deepest parts of our souls:
if it’s good it should be easy. Therefore, when it’s not easy, it’s not good. Hard is bad. Hard means something is wrong with me. Hard means I am a “freak,” like my email friend says.
We are all looking for easy. We are looking for peace. For rest. For security. We chase one thing after the next, thinking that around this next bend of life’s path we will find that place that is good and easy.
But here’s what I know. There is almost no time in life where good equals easy.
When I’ve failed it’s been hard, and when I’ve succeeded it’s been hard.
Sometimes it’s really hard to work and sometimes it’s really hard to rest.
Sometimes it’s really hard to be with people and sometimes it’s really hard to be alone.
Sometimes it’s really hard to be passionate and sometimes it’s really hard to not care.
Sometimes it’s really hard to be disciplined and sometimes it’s hard to be lazy. Wait. It’s always easy to be lazy. Except then it’s hard to be lazy because we end up not liking ourselves very much.
It’s hard to say no. It’s hard to say yes. It’s hard to stay content. It’s hard to change. It’s hard to love well. It’s hard to love ourselves well. It’s hard to grow.
But if we would stop thinking hard = bad, we’d be a lot better off.
My email friend ended her note explaining what happened when she accepted that hard is OK:
“…I let myself relax a bit and enjoy the downs of being a mom with the ups… I am feeling privileged to be chosen as her mother instead of disappointed and overwhelmed.”
When we stop thinking that easy = good and hard = bad, everything changes.
I love this encouragement from Paul to the younger Timothy, words that mean as much to me now as they meant to Timothy then:
“But you – keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.” 2 Timothy 4:5
Steady. Sure. Lively. Persistent. Press on, knowing that hard doesn’t need to be bad, and in fact, it often creates something very, very good.