by Jenny Strickland
You know those moments when life just seems to author it’s own parable? Like when a scenario plays itself out, whether for good or bad, and you can immediately see the spiritual parallel?
We took our oldest sons (7 & 8 years old) roller-skating for the first time recently. Normal enough, right? One of them did just you might expect on a first go at skating: slow, controlled, cautious movement while balancing against sturdy walls or people around the rink. He gained confidence little by little as the night went on and left that night feeling pretty confident and content with his skating abilities thought he had garnered very little speed or distance throughout the evening.
The other sweet boy of mine had a completely different experience. Imagine, if you can, trying to teach a baby deer how to skate… or a great-grandpaw, or a soggy spaghetti noodle. Think haphazard, out-of-control, disorganized, uncoordinated… which of course lead to countless falls, tears, discouragement, drama… you get the picture. It was heartbreaking to watch him struggle, and I wanted to rescue him out of it. Like any compassionate parent would, we assured him – many times, in fact – “Buddy, you don’t have to skate any more.” And even, “Let’s go get some pizza!” But he would not give up. More out-of-control skating. More falls. More focused determination. Until finally we turned in our skates at the end of the night and headed home, exhausted. Now here’s the interesting part – the INSANE part really. After a good nights rest, do you know the first thing that boy said when he woke up the next morning?
“I love roller-skating.”
Wait, You WHAT?!?! How is that even possible?!
But he totally meant it. He paused and grinned as if he was remembering the night before, and then nonchalantly headed upstairs to play. I mustered up an affirmation of his perseverance as he ran off, and then there I was – stuck in this mind-bending, soul-searching, what-just-happened moment. I could not get over it. How in the world could the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your entire little life be partnered with the word love so soon after!?
And then I realized…
I knew exactly how.
You know too, right? All moms learn this quickly. Hard and love go perfectly together. They were meant for each other. The hardest things in life indeed bring about some of the best things in life. Can I get this tattooed on my brain, please?
At this season we have three young, rowdy boys and are fostering two precious little girls. And between those five kids 8 and under, we have a couple in school, another homeschooling, one with some special needs, a couple going to therapy several times a week, church commitments, weekly small group, and all the usual playdates, appointments, laundry and extras that everyone else has. Throw in a part time job for me, my husband’s round the clock job as a pastor and both of our families living out of town, and it’s probably obvious that life is not relaxing or easy or simple. Most days I probably look like the baby deer learning to skate – a bit out of control, sometimes dramatic, totally disorganized, and always in a logistical whirlwind. At the end of the day I’m wiped. But strangely, after a little uninterrupted sleep (what even is that?!), I can honestly say: I love this crazy life. Every single hard bit of it. And I want to keep at it!
Paul said something like this in 2 Cor 4:8-9, 16-17:
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed….That is why we never give up.”
If anyone had the right to talk about hard things, it was Paul. He continues,
“Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
This is basically a motherhood miracle, right? It’s the very reason you and I can say we love something that’s so ridiculously hard! Daily, our spirits are (supernaturally, progressively, amazingly) strengthened and revived. We can hang in there for a long while with a little fresh courage and resolve! And as if that weren’t enough, Paul tells us that these struggles will actually mean something… for eternity! If that’s not a morale booster! Our days aren’t filled with empty messes. Each day, each moment that we persevere and willingly lay down our lives, however that might look, for what God has called us to, we are conformed more into the glorious image of Christ!
What’s your hard right now? Are you physically or emotionally exhausted? Perhaps you’re in a difficult season of waiting… for a child to come home, to become pregnant, to finalize an adoption. Maybe life as you know it just does not make sense right now for whatever reason. You’re getting knocked down again and again and the pressure and demands continue to pile up.
I totally get that. I TOTALLY GET THAT. Oh man, you are not alone.
But His mercies are brand new every morning! He can take our weary, burdened souls and breath fresh life and purpose into them in a single moment.
And by the way, I don’t think Paul is diminishing the difficulty or emotion or pain of our skating rinks. I think he’s simply saying, “Hey guys, the struggle is real, but all those falls and tears and longings are going to PALE in comparison to the incomparable JOY and LOVE and WHOLENESS you’ll soon get to experience firsthand for all of forever!”
… So keep skating!