[POD] #1: The Struggle Is Real. Maybe. Wait a minute. . . Is the struggle actually real? Is that saying really true? Write about how you know it is or is not, using an example of a struggle you’ve experienced in your own life.
It is easy to think that the struggle is not so real until it is sitting on your doorstep, demanding your attention. I say this because despite working to help people overcome their struggles, I have spent my life avoiding my own struggles.
This year my word for the year is growth. Personal growth has been my focus this year in every area of my life. Trying to be intentional about my self growth has made me look at what made me strong, things that have made me grow, and identify areas where I need to focus my efforts.
I realized that much of my growth in life has come out of necessity, not intentional effort. People tell me that I am a strong person, but they don’t realize I have had to be. I have been through things by the age of twenty-one that only a handful of people experience by their forties. Much of those experiences happened to me, they were not by choice. I struggled through lessons, that much of the time I wouldn’t realize the full impact of for decades. The struggle was real, but I didn’t know there was any other way. I figured out things the hard way, experience. It was a great teacher, but my perspective was skewed in many areas from taking in knowledge I didn’t have the capacity and understanding to process at the time. Like Joseph sharing his dreams with his brothers and father, he didn’t have the perspective at the time that he gained in the pit, the palace or the prison.
When I look at the things that made me grow, it was a lot of poor choices – on my part and the part of others. My faith in God grew, as I had to trust Him because I had no other choice. I found myself in that situation more than once as a child, a teenager, a wife, and in my career. During those times, God grew me exponentially. When you have nothing or very little in your hands, God can borrow, add to, and multiple to create growth in ways your never thought possible. You see it time and time again in the Bible – Abraham on the mountain, the Israelites in Egypt, provision for the Israelites in the wilderness, the first miracle, the feeding of 5,000, and miracles performed by old testament prophets.
There are three areas of my life that I feel like I am in an intentional growth period.
- My relationship with God. I have been a Christian for thirty-three years, although much of my time I didn’t live like one. I feel challenged to grow what He has placed inside of me and be intentional about using the gifts and talents for His kingdom and glory. To often I use reason, safety, insecurities and fear to stop me from what I know that He has called me to do. I realize that when I don’t feel strong, it is through my weakness that He shows Himself strong. I just have to yield to Him – that struggle is real – even though I want that relationship with Him.
- My physical health. I have been overweight for over twenty-two years, and I have never been one to intentionally exercise. I have been exploring to root cause of my overeating and inactivity. I have been working to get in the habit of exercise. I am looking at the underlying messages I tell myself that sabotage what I say I want. I know what to do, I just need to figure out what stops me from being successful. As much as I wish it wasn’t – the struggle is real.
- Expressing my emotions. This is the area that I struggle with the most. I realize, I have a hard time labeling my feelings. How do you share something effectively when you don’t know what it really is? How do you share in an effective manner when you have not words to describe something? How do you set aside forty years of wrong messages about emotions and just open up? How do you open up, when privacy is such an important to you? If you had asked me a few years ago if this was a struggle I would have said “absolutely not… well wait a minute…maybe it is.” When you avoid emotions so well, you don’t realize the amount of struggle you are putting into hiding that truth from yourself. This year I have finally given into the reality that the struggle is real.
If you don’t believe that the struggle is real, you are probably living in deception. There is the you that you are aware of, the you that only others are aware of, the you that everyone knows, and then the you that is still hidden. The struggle is real to move that which only others are aware of into your sight, and to move that which you can not see into your sight. The struggle is real to do that. Sometimes it is a struggle with hidden messages, false perceptions, insecurities, and fears – tearing down those walls takes a continuous effort. Regardless of the reason, there is no maybe, wait a minute… the struggle is real.