September 2, 2011

Why Can Life Be So Hard?

"Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest."

A friend of mine has been grossly mistreated by her bosses at her place of work. My good friends in Taiwan have a baby whose birth weight was less than two pounds. We have two special needs children. A friend's husband left her and their kids. One couple we know struggled for years to have children of their own. Another good friend has a three-year-old son battling leukemia.

Why does God place a dream in our heart and then allow life to be so hard? Why do some people find themselves walking along what they believe to be their God-given path only to suddenly find themselves upended by pain? In the midst of our painful circumstances, I believe seeds of opportunity are planted that can grow into great harvests. But the planting can be very difficult. It requires a willingness to risk, to work, and to persevere even though no immediate return is seen.

We see this in the business world. If you have ever tried to start a company, you know that a great deal of pain and sacrifice is involved. And there is no guaranteed outcome. A business builder takes significant risks and sheds great drops of sweat in order to labor toward the birth of her dream. She knows the pain required to complete the journey. She has mapped it out, day-by-day, every step of hardship and struggle set out before her. And she takes it on without regard to her comfort or present joy. She almost rejoices in the pain because of the dream set in her heart. She counts the cost and considers it a price worth paying.

I believe that our deepest dreams wrap themselves around people, not around money or numbers or houses or cars or trips or position or fame or knowledge. And because our dreams are wrapped around people, as we allow ourselves to pursue them, pain will occur. But I don't believe that the pain is a stop sign on the road to our dreams, maybe just a detour. And maybe the detour is essential.

The road that leads to any dream worth pursuing will not be an easy road. "Friends" will not understand or question your sanity or simply not be there to support. But other friends will understand, they will ask genuine questions because they know who you are, and no matter what, they will be there to support you. There will be times when you feel lonely, betrayed, abandoned, angry, confused, sick, hurt, tired, overwhelmed, and more. But that's part of the journey to the dream and, really, those experiences are what make the dream reality.

We might not pursue our dream because we know the path is not easy. We know the road is hard. We might feel it would be easier to take the road "more traveled by" instead of "less traveled by". At least, then, no one can call us crazy. At least, then, we lower the risk of getting hurt. We also know that the road that leads to our dreams is not a short one; it's not something that can be traveled in a day, a month or even a year. Only people with self-control, resolve and commitment can achieve their dream. Only people who are willing to pay the price. And it's an expensive price. So the question really is: if God put a dream in your heart, but the price is high to realize it, are you willing to pursue it anyway?

What dream are we building with our lives? Do we avoid the pain and, therefore, avoid the dream? Or do we boldly step out and go confidently in the direction of our dreams? My passion is that every individual know that God put a dream in your heart in order for you to pursue it. And I am learning this: the journey is so much more valuable than the destination. If you choose to pursue your dream, certainly keep your eyes on the goal, but also rejoice in the moments that occur every day. The moments that overwhelm you and shake you and scare you and make you question why you ever decided to take the road less traveled by; rejoice in the moments that confuse you and make you angry. It's these moments that truly make the dream. It's these moments that make life so hard, but also make life so worth living.

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