Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do Harder Things.

"[In our society] being an exception means that compared to the irresponsibility, immaturity, and incompetence expected from [you], you are officially 'above average.' Wow. A gold star for you." - Alex and Brett Harris

"What's the hardest thing you've ever done?" I asked Kelsey, as our philosophical discussion continued. She pondered, said she didn't know, and asked me likewise. I also didn't know, though memories of various times in my life flickered across my mind. "There have been things that I thought would be hard, but when I did them they didn't seem so bad," I commented, trying to keep the conversation alive. She said, "There are definitely times that I remember thinking, 'This is the hardest thing,' but then something else would happen and I'd think, 'No, this is the hardest thing...'"

It seems that "the hardest thing" is subjective and ever-changing. I remember breezing through and loving grad school, and my mom saying that what most people find crazy-hard, I made look so easy. And honestly, it was easy for me...and dare I say, fun? Most people would say serving at-risk teenagers in Winston-Salem or refugee kids in Fort Wayne would be a pretty hard thing, and they are, but man, it is so worth it all in a way only truly dedicated youth workers can understand. I would have thought spending a winter in Indiana with internationals who really love their tamarind leaves would be the hardest thing I'd ever done, but it's been one of the most exciting experiences of my life. Maybe having to trust and depend on strangers to help me with my very-personal needs over the past ten years has been the hardest thing... or admitting I need help in a new situation... some days it's just mustering up the joy and emotional strength to get out of bed in the morning... but God's grace is always sufficient, so those hard things are never too hard.

The Harris twins talk about doing hard things, not based on what the world expects (which isn't much), but what God expects (which is holiness); not what society says is hard across the mediocre board, but what is truly a challenge and stretch for you as an individual. And don't compare yourself with others, like, "Well, I did my homework when no one else did," or "At least I drive the speed limit." Those are things we should all do, and so doing them is not hard or exceptional... what is exceptionally hard? And don't make excuses for yourself to be pathetic. When I think about the "hard things" that have come up in my life, I think that I could probably quit doing hard things now and no one would think less of me... after all, a girl in a wheelchair can only be expected to do and accomplish so much, right? And yet... it's not about me and what I can or can't do. It has everything to do with God and his work and power. My strengths or weaknesses do not define how great God is.So I can't and won't use my disabilities and obstacles as excuses to do easy things.

So what is the next harder thing? I love challenges - from jigsaw puzzles to adventurous road excursions, I love being a part of things that are bigger than me. I like the harder things! And I don't want to stop. I don't want to be content in past "achievements" or complacent in my "accomplishments." What's the next harder thing God is calling me to?  Because, see, the hardest thing is looking at the thing from a distance and realizing, "There is no way I can do that. It is too big, it demands too much, I will look foolish, I will mess it up..." The potential for failure is the terrifying thing. But when it is God asking you to do it, then you cannot fail if you obey. Just show up, take the first step, say "yes," and leave the rest to him. If it is his idea, He will make it happen. It is God who works in you, to will and to act according to his good purpose. So don't look at all the potential you have to ruin God's plans... look instead at all the ways God has proven himself faithful in your life and in all those who came before you. He has promised to be with you and do great things in you and through you... and He who has promised is faithful.

What is the next harder thing God is calling you to do?

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