I saw this statement on Face Book today. STRENGTH IS THE PRODUCT OF STRUGGLE! It leapt off the page like a jack rabbit.
Obviously, the statement was made about fitness and I certainly can see the significance. Having just completed my shoulder workout, I know the struggle that tears those muscle fibers down just so they can repair and become bigger and stronger than before. But, I saw a more in this truth. I saw, the struggles of our lives.
I am sure, like me, you know STRUGGLE. It is a part of life we all wish we could avoid but can’t. Unfortunately, the element of struggle that holds our attention most is the brokenness it brings. Like weightlifting tears down muscle fiber, the struggles of our lives tear the fiber of our lives. It hurts. What we miss however, is how those struggles build us up, making us better than ever before.
Like weightlifting, each struggle we experience brings with it the opportunity for growth. Yet, like weightlifting, these struggles must be met with proper nourishment. That nourishment boils down to our choices we make in the wake of the struggle. They will determine how much we grow if at all. What are the choices? Attitude, determination, intention, passion, purpose, will, courage, joy, peace, hope, faith are all required fuel. Like carbohydrates and protein, they restore, repair and energize the fibers that have been stretched and torn. Before long, the day dawns and you look in the mirror of your heart and realize you are a bit bigger and better than ever.
I am reminded of Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch had a heart the size of a pea. He was bitter, angry, and jealous of the joy in Who-ville despite their need.
He formed a plan. Flexing the muscles of revenge and contempt he would rob them of everything the Who’s had in hopes that he would finally break their spirits and silence their joyous declarations. His plan failed. Sitting precariously perched on a snowy mountain peak with every possession Who-ville had, wearing a devilish grin he began to hear them sing. He hadn’t broken their spirit. They were still filled with love and joy. Suddenly he realized, it was his spirit that that had been stretched and torn. It was his heart that was broken and sore, not theirs.
Suddenly, his heart began to grow; three times its size. I loved that scene in this 1960’s classic. Without delay he raced down the mountainside to join the celebration, restore what he had stolen and became, for the first time in his life, part of a community that was bigger than he. He was a better Grinch.
Struggles will come. There is no avoiding them. But, we can make a choice to fuel them for growth. We a can choose to empower them to enlarge our hearts, strengthen our resolve and increase our endurance.