The phrase “Life’s Tough” used to live at the tip of my dad’s tongue. Life was either tough or unfair and he wanted to make sure that we knew it. Today, we live in a very different world and I have noticed that these sober reminders are no longer popular.
As I observe our culture, I am noticing that there is a refusal to believe that life can be tough. There is a very popular idea that enough money, technology, and progress can rid us of pain. If we can just form our own realities into whatever we want them to be, then we will have heaven on earth.
But what about when life is actually hard? As we chase utopia, how are we preparing ourselves for the times we did everything right and life still sucks. How will we handle it when reality turns out to be unchangeable and we can’t reconcile what we wanted to happen with what is actually happening?
In my own life, “I didn’t sign up for this” lives at the tip of my tongue. As adolescence grows farther away I am starting to realize that life is, in fact, tough. There are many things in my experience that I would not have chosen and as much as I would like to, I can’t change them.
A marriage that needs active work in order to thrive. I signed up for a marriage that just works.
Motherhood being a super hard transition a year later. Motherhood was supposed to be the most fulfilling thing ever.
Having my pride handed to me on a daily basis instead of nonstop compliments.
Life being expensive in an often unfun way.
Not being able to talk my way into getting what I want.
Having to work hard to be successful. I thought I was just supposed to BE successful.
As I was sitting and stewing somewhere between the “I didn’t sign up or this” and “I don’t deserve this”, I happened to be discussing the life of Mary the mother of God with my friends and it dawned on me that out of everyone Mary did not deserve her life.
She was a very good young woman who was minding her own business when an angel came out of nowhere and asked her to be the mother of God. She said yes. She didn’t have to but she did.
Then what… she had to give birth in a barn, she and Joseph and to flee to Egypt for their lives, she was seen as a crazy woman because of the whole God is my baby’s father thing and then she got to watch her son die a completely brutal death that was not deserved. She was there every step of the way when the disciples abandoned her son. Truly she was a woman of sorrows
Mary said yes to God’s perfect will. She made all of the right choices and then life got really tough. She did not “deserve” to suffer the way she did and yet she is our example of joy in obedience. Mary was not entitled as we are.
Life actually is hard but it is because it is only as hard as it is beautiful if we are will to find the beauty. No matter how happy, sad, easy, or difficult our moments are, they are full of beauty to be found. We can try to rid ourselves of suffering but we will become bitter and resentful of suffering when it does occur. We can try to make life easy but let us not train ourselves in such a way that we despair when life sucks through no fault of our own. Every moment of glory is a gift and every moment of suffering is and opportunity that can lead us to glory.
Mary did not suffer in vain. Her suffering was vindicated in the resurrection of Jesus as she took a pretty important place in Christianity.
My lesson. I do not DESERVE an easy life. I CAN build character by enduring each moment with grace and hope for the joy it can bring. I hope that I become a person who chooses not to eradicate my life of suffering but that I consent to let it shape me into a person of true joy regardless of the circumstances.