With any kind of commitment you make, there will be times of struggle. That’s just all there is to it.
Saturday, I went out and ran 22 miles. These last six weeks or so, I’ve been accomplishing something new about every two weeks just by increasing my mileage every two weeks. It’s a great feeling, and my successes in these areas are spreading into my sense of self confidence in other areas of my life. But it hasn’t been easy.
And I haven’t shied away from the struggles.
Every two weeks, as I increase my mileage by typically two miles, it’s always the last two miles that are the toughest for me, and it is during those last two miles that I have to fight against the desire to quit. And it’s quite a strong desire to quit. I tell myself that I’ve gone a quarter of a mile longer than before, or a half or full mile longer than before–that’s good enough. But I ignore those thoughts, and I just keep moving forward, because I know if I quit, it could set off a series of “quits” in me. That’s because once you’ve quit ahead of time, that goal you gave up on becomes in your mind an unachievable goal. You remember how tough it was and the fact that you failed before and you can really psych yourself out this way. So it’s really important to just keep going to attain that next incremental goal.
And it feels so good when you are done, and you’ve accomplished another small step toward the larger goal that you are trying to achieve.
If you are working your way through to an ultimate goal, and you are taking small steps to get there, you will encounter struggles along the way. Move through those struggles. You won’t reach the ultimate goal, ever, if you can’t get through the struggles you meet at each incremental goal to the ultimate goal.
Our society doesn’t seem to understand this.
We want it all now, and we want it easy. We float from job to job, relationship to relationship, experience to experience looking for that next adrenaline rush or good feeling that comes with the newness of a new relationship, job, or experience. We get tired of dealing with whatever struggles exist in our jobs and relationships. Few people in modern cultures are willing to stay where they are with the thing they started on, if that thing starts to get tough, or maybe even boring. They want out, and they start looking for something new, different. What many people don’t face up to, is the fact that they are trading in their “old” struggles for new ones. Their “new” experience will also grow old someday, and provide them with more struggles. And if they haven’t learned to face up to struggles in their last place or with their last person, the new struggles will be just as hard if not harder to get through.
I know I am guilty of this kind of thinking.
I’m working on my fifth year at my place of employment right now, which is the longest I’ve ever been employed by one place. I thank God that I have my husband and best friend working there with me because they have taught me how to “stick it out.” They have also given me reason to want to stay, even when I might have been going through struggles. What I’ve realized since being there is that “quitting” can become a habit. It can be a natural reaction to struggle or conflict that, if repeated too often, becomes a part of who you are. Breaking that habit is not easy.
It doesn’t mean you are a bad person if you have this habit, or even that you didn’t have real reasons for quitting. But it does mean that at some point you are going to have to learn to stick it out. If you don’t, you wake up one day and realize you have no meaningful, long term relationships, you have no meaningful accomplishments to reflect upon. Because real relationships and real accomplishments manifest and have great value when you’ve had to go through some struggle to get them, or keep them.
I have this friend . . .
Besides my best friend at work, I have another best friend who is not so geographically close to me. Her name is Kim, and we have been friends since we were eight years old (that’s about thirty years, yikes!!). I don’t know what it was about Kim and me, but we stuck it out with each other through all those years and it wasn’t always sunshine and roses. We had our arguments, and we’ve also had times where we didn’t talk as much just because we were so far away from each other and lives can get busy. But when it seems like it’s been too long, still, one of us will contact the other, and it’s like no time has passed. One of us could have given up, said it was too hard to maintain this relationship, and that would be that. But neither of us has done that. And I feel blessed to have a friend in my life who has known me virtually all my life. The good and the bad. Neither of us have shied away from the struggles we had when living near each other, or now, the struggles of just maintaining a long distance friendship. And it makes our friendship that much sweeter. It’s valuable.
Here’s the cool thing about all of this.
The struggles are what makes all of it worth it in the end. The struggles are what will build your character, if you let them. The struggles are what makes the goal you achieve seem so much sweeter. So, I’m hoping you don’t give up. I’m hoping you stick it out even in the hard times, and even more so in the boring times, and that you don’t leave or give up just for emotions’ sake. I’m not saying don’t ever leave a job or a relationship–sometimes some people and situations are not healthy for us. But for the most part, sticking it out is good for us. It gives us the chance to succeed. Give yourself that chance.