(Don’t) Give Me The Hard Stuff

14 04 2010

I want life to be easy; North American easy, I mean.

I want that.

I want to wake up in the morning with the sun shining through my window. I want the mirror to smile back at me. I want everyone to get along in the morning, and at noon, and at night. I want to do something purposeful with purposeful people and have that satisfied feeling when it is all said and done. I want arguments to resolve with story-book endings. I want to have enough money in the bank. I want celebrations to be sweet with no hint of sour. I want to hear laughter and feel happy. I want good long coffees with good long friendships. I want comfortable shoes. I want to like fiber. I want to be fascinated. I want to be puzzled and then say, “Ah! Got it!” I want to meander along, galavant to, traverse across, see, capture, and remember any place I have never been to and especially places where I am a minority. I want to cook something everyone likes all at once. I want a tall, skinny, vanilla Latte. I want the perfect pillow.

I know as a Christian I ought to be talking about joy in trials, poverty, loneliness, betrayal (name your poison), but really, couldn’t I simply go with the joy? Come on, even people who aren’t spoiled North Americans want this; we all just want peace, provision and happiness? Don’t we all want to love and be loved? Don’t we want problems to be solved? Don’t we want someone to tend our gravestone like we mattered?

I don’t gravitate towards hard things; hard ways. I don’t skip towards gut-wrenching experiences, that’s for sure. I am like the rental car we are driving right now. When you get to close to something that is going to hurt it beeps loudly (translation: “you are about to back into a car, you idiot”). I have alarms going off all the time when I get close to conflict, discomfort, and blind corners: Avoid! Avoid!

I am thinking about Matthew 7:13ish right now and I am chewing on the whole wide-road and narrow road thing. It is the usual “follow-Jesus-and-do-the-opposite-of-what-comes-naturally” theme so prevalent in the Bible; live this out and narrow roads are exactly as described: narrow.

Narrow. Limited: limited visibility, limited width, limited options, limited company.

On the narrow road I stumble along over pits and roots and scrape myself up. I don’t know where I am going half the time and to make matters worse I am usually stuck with fellow travelers I can’t pass. It’s not like I want to be alone on the narrow path, but considering, I would rather be alone at times. It’s dangerous traveling with other people (spoiler alert): feet slip on the path, loosening rocks, pelting other travelers, leaving marks. Ow.

Sometimes I come through a hard part on the trail and I am like, “Wahoo! Yay me!” And there is one of my favourite companions looking like they have been mauled. “Medic!” Today I am the bandager; tomorrow the bandaged.

I want to resolve this with a cliche but I can’t. Someone is going to tell me, “His grace is sufficient” and I know that. But when things are hard walking the narrow-road way then, I will admit, I am prone to argue that.

When Jesus said, “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,” that was not an understatement but we have some things in common with those who opted for the wide road. My wide-road friends stare at their lives and ask in dismay, “Is this all there is?” but I am also looking at the lot on the narrow road who are asking the same question. The only difference between the two is one word: no.

No, this isn’t all there is and if life massively awful right now, Jesus says, “Can I just assure you that your effort to stay on this narrow road and live the narrow-road-way is not in vain? It may be supremely difficult right now, but God’s strategy prevails, no matter how the pieces are arranged on the board.”  For my friends who feel like they have recently been drop-kicked on the narrow-road, I realize this is of little comfort; I get it. I know the same Bible verses as you do, and even though I know them I have used the word “quit” in the double digits.

Recently, contemplating my weakness and feeling like a loser in the Kingdom…Ok, you have to picture this: I am cleaning my messy kitchen and talking to myself, crying, saying, “Lord, I always said I would stand firm and that nothing would move me. You know, steadfast. You know, 1 Corinthians 15:58. Look at how weak, and fickle and shaky I am.”

I don’t often get an audible from God, but I am telling you, this came through loud and clear to me:

“You are still here, aren’t you?”

Whoever is reading this blog, this is what I am learning. God never thought I wouldn’t be shaky along the narrow road. He knew all along it would be hard. He knew all along that I would want to quit a thousand times. But I haven’t.

I am still here, aren’t I?

And so are you.

— Teresa Klassen

Afterword: Things that have breathed life into me when I am doing hard time on the narrow road….

  • When someone says, “I am with you.” (I don’t know how it is for you, but I don’t need a crowd of comfort; just knowing I am on someone’s mind and that they aren’t going to ditch me is Red Bull for the soul. Jesus says this all the time, and it is awesome when one of His followers acts like Him).
  • When someone says, “I am going to pray for you right now and will continue to pray for you.” And then they do it. (People’s prayers outline God’s hand on my shoulder.)
  • When someone says, “This looks familiar.” (Satan’s work is a bit like Spam. It ends up in tons of people’s mailboxes. So, if you have seen the same thing happening to other people that is happening to your friend, tell ’em. For me, just realizing this lets me take off the “I’m A Complete Failure” sign. It is so strangely comforting to know that this issue isn’t unique to me)
  • A trusted friend says, “The weather will change and you will come through this with new muscles.” (I don’t mean a trite kind of slap on the back, I mean words that are poured out of the heart and given as a gift of hope. Gotta give credit to Mike here. He has been an amazing forecaster in my life. He has cleared my vision countless times. Also, in the most uncanny way I have a friend who emails me, unbeknownst to her at the “worst times” with some kind word. Very cool).
  • Sleep (For this I credit my mother. I know sleep doesn’t fix everything, but a rested mind is a clearer mind. How many times did she quiet the house, pour a bath, rub my back, or just simply remind me to have a snooze. Hitting the mental off switch has saved me many ‘a time)
  • Letting God counsel me. God: who knows what’s hard and what I am making hard (I would be a statistic if it were not for my Bible and my journal)

What has helped you along the hard, narrow road? I would love to know. Leave a comment.

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2 responses

14 04 2010
Tweets that mention (Don’t) Give Me The Hard Stuff « OneBrownLeaf -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Teresa Klassen. Teresa Klassen said: Matthew 7:13. Reflections on doing "hard time" on the narrow road. http://tinyurl.com/y6wj9xc […]

15 04 2010
karleigh

teresa,
love your words today. they have really encouraged me as I walk a road that seams so narrow… ( Although I know it is not.. but my perception of it is)I loved your words… i am still here. … I am going to think about them alot as I continue on my path…thanks for sharing them.
Karleigh

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