Self-Inflicted Hardships

So after I wrote Wednesday’s post about taking a break from media and entertainment, it suddenly occurred to me that I’m embarking on my third fast in four months – electricity, healthcare appointments, and now media.

At first I wondered what was wrong with me – why do I constantly feel the need to give stuff up??

But then I realized that each of these experiences has been amazing, and I feel as if I’ve been learning a lot through them.

And suddenly, a conversation from this last weekend came back to me…

A friend of mine at camp was talking about life on full-time staff at camp, and she was asking me questions about our five years out there – she was curious about what kinds of things we did to grow together as a team, and how we made sure to be continually seeking Jesus, and growing closer to Him as a group.

As I thought about it, I could clearly see how it was always the hardest times out there which had caused us to grow the most – to pray the most fervently, to depend on each other, and share life in the deeper ways.

hard times

When I shared this with her, she was a bit disappointed, because she said everything was going so well! How would they grow together if nothing was hard, or going wrong?!

But then I realized that December was a month of huge growth and development for me personally, and it was optional. I voluntarily put myself through that challenge. I did it because I felt it was what God was calling me to do, but it was still a choice I made.

I came to the conclusion that deep growth is usually the result of difficulties that cause us to depend completely on God, but those difficulties can be self-inflicted!

Like going on a missions trip. People usually seem to come back completely on fire for God when they’ve been on a missions trip. They were challenged and stretched, and saw God work in ways they had never seen before. Their joy and excitement is usually quite contagious.

Nobody forced them to go on that missions trip – they did it voluntarily, but it brought about huge growth.

So here’s the thing: My life has been fairly awesome for the last few years. After a stretch of numerous health problems, multiple miscarriages, years of infertility, and a few other difficulties that we’ve had to weather, I feel as though I’m now in a season of blessing. It would be very easy to start coasting, becoming complacent, without some crisis to jerk me awake to the reality of how much I still need Jesus, on a very daily basis.

But my new theory is that even when the storms of life have calmed down for a bit, Jesus can still lead us into challenging situations just because they’re good for us. He shakes things up to keep us from falling asleep. He continually calls us to go deeper, further in.

I want to choose growth, when the opportunity presents itself!

Want to share about a time when you voluntarily put yourself through a tough time and experienced great growth?

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