Had dinner with Ron last night. We have been friends forever and have walked many a mile in each other’s shoes. I invited him to read my whole story AfterFaith and so when we sat down in our booth at the restaurant, he looked at me and said, “I laughed when I heard in church that Sunday that you were being laid off. I said to myself… Of course this would happen to her; she needs the next chapters for AfterFaith 2, the sequel! Ron and I are close and I know he would never casually laugh or make light of my misfortune or bad luck. In a strange twisted ironic way, he is right.
We both decided by the end of our fabulous dinner… the only real way that permanent personal change happens is when we persevere through challenge and difficulty… and most often that is entirely painful.
The funny thing about this is that we can’t manufacture obstacles to overcome just for the sake of personal growth. We can certainly put ourselves in uncomfortable situations that require us to change our opinions and perspectives, raise our consciousness or give of our surplus. We can make better choices that promote our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. We can implement personal goals and strategies. These are all important steps of preparation and practice for the big event. Much like an athlete getting ready for competition… or an actor rehearsing for the stage show… or a musician repeating every note over and over for the performance. In the final moment, every ounce of preparation will be called into action. Growing your soul is no different.
That’s what all those spiritual practices are for… the prayer and worship, reading and writing and listening, hashing through faith questions with trusted family and friends. It’s all about preparing for that time in your life–that by the way will eventually come: most probably totally unexpected–when you don’t understand… why this has happened to you, why people can be so cruel, why didn’t God prevent this, what will you do now, who can you trust.
Growth is painful… an old cliché that we all know is true. God will present the opportunity when it’s time for your soul to grow. Will you be prepared?