This weekend I learned there is a philosophy going around – a Christian one to boot – that says that says, “Think of the hardest thing you can possibly imagine. That’s God’s will for you.”
First, I don’t want to confuse this issue of things being too hard with challenging. Sometimes, as I discussed last week, you need to do a hard thing to accomplish what you want or what you’re meant to do.
Taking the hardest road is a mistake.
I’m instead talking about something I practiced for a GOOD (and wasted) portion of my life: pushing your ways into unopen doors. When I think of the hardest thing I’ve ever done, my first memory is the nights I spent sweating and brow beating doing programming. I thought, after my stroke, that web design was a good way to publish my poetry. It’s creative! The problem is I’m in no way, shape or form a visual or graphic artist. I’m a WRITER. These are two extremely different disciplines, having only in common that they are both creative and are art forms that can inspire a range of feelings.
But, I was just out of the stroke and determined NOT to lose my life sitting in an office under the pain of florescent lighting. So, instead of spending the next 7 years fine tuning my poetry and fiction writing skills, I started a blog (good for my nonfiction prowess) and learned HTML. Because I didn’t know graphic design, I had to lean towards programming. Easy peasy for a math wiz, right?
Well, no, not so much. It turned out that I was good at ANYTHING that had to do with writing: from marketing to SEO to content layout to using a CMS. However, I SUCKED at programming. It was painful, and not even lucrative, as I had to spend time seeking solutions that I wouldn’t bill the client for. AUGH. Waste. Of. Time.
Finally, after a long, LONG time, I realized that my writing had suffered all those late (and excruciating) nights of not learning programming. Not only that, but the MINUTE I let it go and decided not to look back, everything changed. The stress that had lived as a virtual monkey on my back disappeared overnight. Restful sleep returned like a welcomed friend. My income was much lower, but my sense of peace was much higher.
The right path can be challenging but is wide open.
And more doors starting opening. I’m not anywhere near where I need to be yet, but this is that old saying that when a door closes, God will open a window. THAT may be the challenge: to step through (or jump out the open hatch). I’ve found that God will either make it easier to do a hard thing or will do it for me.
It’s really as simple as that, I just wish I’d figured it out long before age 45. I did this MY WHOLE LIFE. And society didn’t help either – after all, programming and pretty much all the majors and jobs I erroneously pursued made a lot of money. Writing by and large does NOT.
If you are stressed out and seeking a life change, a new career or are just plain old miserable with your job, profession and career, I invite you to focus on open doors and opportunities while you figure out your natural talents and skills. If there is something you are good at and passionate about and you’re NOT using it somehow and frequently, you are wasting – probably losing – an ability.
The truth is, you can lose your talent. When I was a teen, I wrote reams and reams of poetry. Quite a lot as a young adult too, and it returned after my stroke, 15 years ago. But after all that time mucking about with web design, I discovered that I’d lost my ability. I tried to write a poem last week and it was a supreme challenge. I’m not even sure if what I wrote was good, but I sense this skill wanted to return, like a pull in my soul. The act of starting to create one was uplifting, even if the road to get to completion is steep and rocky. Maybe that’s the “hard thing” I need to do.
Image courtesy of marin, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.