When it all feels hard


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.






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  1. Katie Axelson

    March 6th, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    Oh, Nicole, I needed this today. And sometimes being lazy is hard like when you haven’t done it recently enough that you forgot how to relax.

  2. Nicole

    March 7th, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Katie, I think there’s a difference between “rest” and “lazy” but unfortunately us do-ers have a difficult time sorting that out. To me, lazy is about knowing what’s good and right and choosing to ignore it. Rest is about God’s rhythms…as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to sort out, a little better, what’s what. Hope you’ve pressed into the “hard” of figuring out how to relax and rest. 🙂

  3. Katie Axelson

    March 7th, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Fair enough. And ask me again on Tuesday. I have a scheduled relaxation day on Monday. (Is it sad that I have to schedule a day to relax?)

  4. Nicole

    March 7th, 2013 at 2:19 AM

    no…it’s smart.

  5. Caroline Oley

    March 7th, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    “There is almost no time in life where good equals easy.” Wow, so true. Children, marriage, spiritual growth…. AND Nicole, BTW, your sharing the “I know, it’s not easy…” sentiment with me one day after CLC was more reassuring and refreshing than I think I ever let you know. So, thank you. 🙂 (and keep spreading the word!!!)

  6. Rhonda

    March 7th, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    I love this post and it came on the perfect day for me! Thank you Nicole! Even after our children are grown and we have grandchildren, things are still confusing and stressful – and yes, even BAD at times! People often comment to me ,”It must be easy now that you can do what you want to do.” I just smile and keep going my way knowing that we never really know what another person’s life is like or what they’re going through! Sometimes I think it would be great not to care, not to work, not to stretch myself, not to get dressed in the morning, not to watch my calories……but then, the hard things are most often the things that bring about good, positive, incredible change in us and for others! Thank you for the reminder!

  7. Nicole Unice

    March 7th, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    “the hard things are most often the things that bring about good”. Love it….so true.

  8. Easy means good; hard mean bad… a major misconception | ruthhogston

    March 8th, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    […]  quotes taken from  http://www.nicoleunice.com/mothering/when-it-all-feels-hard/ […]

  9. Yvette

    November 2nd, 2015 at 11:51 PM

    I am totally agree-easy doesn’t always mean good nor does hard always mean bad. This was a great reflection and message Nicole! Thank you!