The Hard Parts

It’s a hard place to be when nothing goes as planned. When everything falls apart. When all your expectations are unmet.

I expected the first day of our backpacking trip to be cold but not icy. I expected the hike to be difficult but not treacherous. I expected good conversation around a blazing fire the first night in camp. Instead, the icy wind storm forced us to set up and enter our tents early where we ate our dinners alone and tried to stay warm and dry. The long night was made longer as the storm continued through the dark morning hours. The wind howled, trees crashed to the ground, mice scurried around our tents, and we turned over and over in our sleeping bags. The morning brought relief from the storm, but ice covered everything.

It was so cold we didn’t want to move out of our sleeping bags, but we ate breakfast and began the long process of taking down tents and repacking our packs. Some in our group left because of sickness or injury but some more of us thought of quitting. Some of us wanted a toilet, a warm bed, and just not to be on the adventure any longer.

Maybe more of us than I knew wanted to leave the trail, but we stayed with it. We hiked through one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. The frozen forest was other-wordly. Two or so hours into our hike we were out of the ice and ascending the mountain where the sun shone bright on our faces. We ate our lunches on rocks warmed by the sun, then we climbed Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains.

The three day, two night backpacking trip far exceeded my expectations and turned out to be one of the most difficult, joyful, and memorable adventures for me. The hard parts of the trip made the good parts really good.

It’s like that with most anything, isn’t it? The challenges of a thing make the finish that much sweeter. We’re made stronger by the challenges. We learn more from difficult situations and we find out what we can really do.

The hard parts are worth it.

Unlikely

Instead

imageJust because you can doesn’t mean you should.

I say this to my kids all the time.

It’s a reminder for me.

I can eat two bowls of salted caramel gelato.

I can watch endless hours of my favorite shows on Netflix.

I can ignore the tattooed girl in line at the cash register or be rude to the neglectful waiter at the restaurant.

I can let my bad mood ruin the day.

I can skip my workout.

I can gossip about my co-worker.

I can do all those things and a thousand others that seemingly have no effect at all.

Who cares if I watch 8 hours of Netflix or stuff myself with my favorite snack or gossip or stay in a bad mood?

The little things matter more than you know. Your habits matter. Your self-control and your kindness and your patience matters. Your simple acknowledgment of the girl in line at the grocery store matters.

And that’s why I’m challenging you to think beyond the things you can do. This is another one of my Live Like It Matters Challenges.

Think about what would be most helpful. Even good allowable things aren’t necessarily the best things. What’s permissible is not always beneficial. This applies to the choices we make every day.

This kind of thinking and doing helps you and others. Because in the long run, you’ll benefit from skipping the 2nd bowl of ice cream. You’ll reap the rewards of going to gym. And you can save yourself and your co-workers a lot of pain when you shut the gossip down.

Instead, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy one bowl of gelato. Watch only one episode on Netflix every now and then.

I’ll be kind to my co-workers and take every opportunity to encourage them.

I’ll be slow to speak when I’m in a bad mood and I’m going to try really hard to remember how good I feel when my workout is over. I’ll make sure to smile at those around me – even the waiter who never refilled my drink.

Because it matters. The little things we do matter.

Make the wiser choices. Think beyond what you can do and live like it matters.

  But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.    Galatians 5:22-23  NCV

In response to the Daily Post’s prompt
Second Thoughts.

Be Happy

I didn’t plan to skip a week on my Live Like it Matters Challenge but the busyness of getting ready for an estate sale kept me from me posting one last week.

Last night I thought over and over again about what challenge I would issue this week, then I remembered a recent conversation with a friend and it hit me.

This friend shared some good news with me. She just landed a great job that will mean a significant salary increase and an easier schedule. I told her how happy I was for her. Then she told me how happy it made her that I was happy for her. FullSizeRender (27)

Hopefully we’ve all experienced someone being genuinely happy for us when good things happen. Unfortunately we’ve probably also experienced another reaction. Instead of sharing in our happiness, we may sense disappointment, jealousy or indifference from the other person.

Let me add this. If you’ve made a quick decision about something important such as quitting a good job to audition for American Idol even though you’ve never even hummed a tune in front of another human being, or marrying someone you’ve known for three weeks, expect some push-back from those that care for you. That’s love and concern. The happiness from others may take some time to be revealed. They might wait to see how it turns out first. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about when your friend loses 50 pounds and she’s worked her butt off making it happen. Don’t be jealous. Be happy for her.

Or when you find out your neighbors are building a huge house and will be moving in soon. Don’t let your heart be filled with envy. Be happy for them.

Or when your co-worker was promoted to the position you really wanted. Yes, it hurts. Still, be happy for him.

Don’t assume that your friends or family or coworkers know you’re happy for them when they share good news.

Tell them. Say the words, “I’m so happy for you”. And if you’re not happy for them………figure out why. It’s normal for a first reaction to be disappointment or even a bit of jealousy in some situations. You can be disappointed you didn’t get the promotion and still be happy for the guy who did. But if it’s been 6 months and you can’t get past it; find out why. This isn’t a counseling session so I won’t go there but if you have a hard time sharing in others’ happiness, you won’t be happy. You just won’t.

This week, when a good thing happens to someone tell them you’re happy for them. Even if you’re not at first tell them anyway. Then work on being happy for them. Because it matters.

And we’re learning to live like it matters.

Happiness makes a person smile, but sadness can break a person’s spirit.  Proverbs 15:13 NCV