Friday, August 24, 2012

The Struggle

(the wise words of Kelly Clarkson)

This week I had a very obvious, but very freeing, epiphany:

Everyone has consistent difficulty with something.

People talk a lot about how everyone's gifts and abilities are different and that's how it should be. In the body of Christ we can't all be hands or all be feet, etc. But I think it's equally important to observe the flip side. Like most people, I tend to take for granted the things that come naturally to me. I can get impatient or annoyed with others who struggle with those things. I'm not talking about subjects so much as life skills. Like good financial management, or good eating and exercise habits, or keeping a clean and organized home. We all know people, or are people, who fight daily to master those things. Those who grasp them easily may think, Come on. Get a grip. It's not that hard. Except that for them, it is. Just as our abilities are very personal and nuanced, rooted in personality and experience, our difficulties are too.

By God's grace and good circumstances, I'm good at basic life skills. On the surface I may look like I have it together. But I never stop struggling with my deep need for security - relational, financial, emotional - and terror of doing anything to seriously or irrevocably jeopardize that security. (I recently took an Enneagrams test for the first time. I'm a Six, which explained a lot and also made me even more amazed at how God has worked in me through the last few years.) I'm okay with taking minor risks, because that's how we learn and grow, and life would be pretty boring without them. I can even handle major risks decently, if I'm backed into a corner or God has otherwise made it crystal clear that this is the way I should go. But the line of voluntarily making huge changes and taking huge risks is almost impossible for me to cross. I have many wonderful, freewheeling friends who think nothing of moving from job to job or city to city, or losing their life savings to grad school or a business venture, or having non-ideal romantic relationships. I wish I was more like them. I know they get impatient with me as I work toward change in different areas of my life. As I agonize over even the smallest of steps, I know they secretly roll their eyes and think, Gosh Brenda, get it together. It's not that hard. But to me, it is. It is very, very, VERY hard. If I'm meant to take some big leaps, I will get there eventually. But it'll be gradual, in my own time, fighting every step of the way. Just like many people fight every day to pay down their debt or lose weight. It's the same struggle, just with different skin on.

I hope that realizing this will help me to be kinder and more patient toward others' ongoing struggles when they look different from mine. And to remember that those who are strong where I'm weak may also be weak where I'm strong. None of us can look down our noses at each other. We all need so much grace.


  1. I definitely struggle with a lot of the things you find easy for you. :D

    Thank you for this post. Now I want to go figure out what the Enneagrams thing is. I've never heard of it!

  2. I don't know that I've ever thought about it like this. Thanks for giving me something to think on!

  3. This was excellent. An important perspective. Thank you!

  4. I am STRUGGLING lately with the weight/exercise habits and the neat and tidy home-- things that came so easily for me in the past. Nice to be reminded that we all have our issues. I'd be interested in reading some helpful and practical tips for the areas in which you excel.

  5. Excellent entry. I struggle with many things that others find easy too.