In the first few weeks of my new life a young woman asked me to coach her through a similar struggle as I’d experienced, saying she “wanted what I had”. She told me the courage she saw in me motivated her. She said my commitment to doing what it takes to have a changed life inspired her and the steps I was taking to have an authentic experience with my Higher Power made her want to know more about Who He was. I felt insecure about helping her since it was all so new to me but upon the advice of my own sponsor Susan, I decided to give it a try and gingerly accepted her invitation. I told her if she wanted what I had she would need to do what I did and she agreed. For weeks and often for hours on end I met with her one-on-one, patiently listening to her pain and offering the same tools I’d been given. I took her to meetings, dried her eyes, prayed with her, and generally stopped at nothing as I poured into her life.
After a short while, she started drinking again. Further, she gave the middle finger to the investment I was making in her and all the progress she’d made and never looked back. I was floored. What had I done wrong? Did my enthusiasm to help her have the opposite effect and chase her away? Or was I too soft? What happened??
When I shared my dismay with Susan, she told me something I didn’t expect to hear. She said it didn’t have anything to do with me, but said the reality is- most people don’t want it. What? How could that be? How could anyone NOT want to sleep soundly knowing they’d been truthful in everything? How could anyone NOT want the peace that begins to flow into relationships as one by one we make things right with those we have hurt? How could anyone NOT want to stop looking into life’s rearview mirror as each new mile traveled is honest now? How could anyone NOT want the freedom that comes with being naked before God and feel no shame? How could anyone NOT want to stop arm wrestling with what they knew to be good and right and true? I had drunk the KoolAid, saw how amazingly improved my life could be, and just assumed everyone wanted it too.
Over time I began to understand what Susan meant as I watched many I loved or admired seemingly satisfied with “close enough”. I watched churches split over power struggles, single Christians get impatient, and the need to be right destroy relationships on all levels. I watched drinking get out of control in the life of influencers, anger go unchecked, and the perceived “right to happiness” blow marriages apart. Earlier in my life, I had done a lot of the same kind of stuff; professing faith in God but then making choices that would belie such belief if I thought it’d suit me. It’s one thing to say “I believe”, but to live it? Ouch. I couldn’t help but wonder how different it might’ve been if someone had just grabbed me by the shoulders in those days and asked “what are you DOING?”
So… what is it with us? Why aren’t we willing to do what it takes to have a rich life on every level? Why do we allow low-living to steal from us what God has to offer?
You know what I think? Sorry to be blunt, but when it really comes down to it, it’s just too stinking hard. That’s right. It takes a lot to swallow our pride as we listen to counsel and apply it to our life. It takes GUTS to shut up, share the credit, be tolerant with others, tell the truth, stop whining, return the money, admit we’re wrong, serve with no recognition, say we’re sorry, and really make things right. It costs us a whole lot and too often, we just don’t want to pay up.
I don’t know what you believe, but I believe the reason Jesus went through all the drama of coming to this earth as He did was because He wanted us to have it all. Think about it: He lived as a man, was criticized and tortured and ultimately killed by a passel of religious leaders who were ticked that He’d pulled focus from their legalism. He then rose up from the dead (He was also still God, you know) and a month or so later returned to heaven where He tells us He’s preparing our eternal home for our arrival. The whole point was that He came to give us a shot at a life that is marked by great plenty1, no matter how much or how little we have.
So what stops us from jumping in the deep end… from biting into the juiciest part of the apple… from living and being all God made us to be, even if it costs us a boatload to do it? What would it take for us to muster up the GUTS to, as my buddy Danna says, do the right thing for the right reason, and trust God with the outcome?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NASB
Sylvia is a singer and Christian women’s speaker, and lives in Southern California.
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57 thoughts on “It’s too stinking hard”
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I don’t know if I’d blame the effort of walking straight in the path of righteousness as being ‘too hard’. I’d be more tempted to blame it on today’s society of ‘wanting everything now’ and as you said, “The right to happiness”. People are brainwashed by movies where a unhappily married couple is ‘relieved’ when their spouse finds someone new or where the geeky boy always gets the hot model girlfriend because he’s funny. That’s not how life is. Life is hard period. And people need to realize that it’s not all about their own happiness. It’s about community and sharing with others so that all can benefit. It’s about living simply so that others may simply live.
As usual, I appreciate your posts. They really get to the root and make me think. Thank you.
I’ve been partnered up with God for a long time now. At first, it was “too stinking hard” but I was too stinking scared that if I didn’t stick with it, I would wind up back where I was. So all these years later, my prayer is easy: “God, please show me how to live my life in such a way that when I cross your mind, you just spontaneously smile”. Big order? Puullleeeze. So what? Extravagant? Maybe. Sincere? To the bone.
Well said. Things that require effort produces\ great results if we stick with them. No pain, no gain? I think so.
You express things so naturally & honestly. It’s refreshing & comforting . Keep it going, Sylvia.
Thank you for your kind words, Pam. Hope to see you here again!
Beautifully put Sylvia! Thank you for sharing your heart and your life!
Congratulations on your new blog. Keep writing and inspiring all around you!
Thank you Marina. Hope to see you here again!
Congratulations on your new blog. Keep writing and inspiring all around you!
Bravo! We don’t want to work hard, but He promises us abundance on His terms! Keep writing!
Thank you Heather!
Fear. Fear of change. Fear of failing. Fear of discomfort. Fear of the unknown–even when we know the “unknown” is far better. We can still fear it. Taking the plunge, or as you said, “drinking the Kool Aid” is scary. But worth it!
It Is Hard, and that translates into Pain and I spent so much of my life running from pain…and then I drank that amazing koolaid. I’ve given up running now, thank you Jesus. Love Anne’s comments, great blog Sylvia, you put it all into words so well, thank you.
Glad you’ve given up running, Dot. Hope to see you here again soon!
Oh Aunt Syl. I love this. As a kid, I idolized you. Not intentionally, but the way a person does when they meet someone who has all the answers, and who dresses cool, and who takes them to the Shamu show, and is comfortable enough with themselves to burp and laugh. I love seeing your openness and your wrestling with not having all the answers. And your wrestling with the honest human nature everyone has, even those who say they know God. Walking it takes so much more sacrifice and CLINGING to the truth than just saying it. I’m just sayin. 😉 This blog is a good idea. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you– hope to see you here again soon!
So true, Sylvia. So true.
Thank you Jill.
Oooh I love this!! It is frickin hard esp for us control freaks, peace at all costs just doesn’t work. Have to give it all, so that gaze in the rear view mirror is not filled w things riding up on your bumper. Those monkeys on your back. By the way I love the song you sing about that.
Don’t want to look back, that’s for sure! Thank you for the comment!
So true. Most of us want the “results” without the work. God doesn’t work that way. Terrific words of wisdom.
Sylvia, You are right or she was right. “it is too stinking hard” BUT without Christ guiding us down the road of life it is much stinkier and much harder. I have tried both ways and wouldn’t get up out of bed in the morning if Jesus was not there with me.
Thank you for your comment, Ann!