This is an odd thought, I know, but hear me out and you might find that you agree. Let me paint you two different pictures:
First, we have a young man who grew up in a new suburb, lived in a big house with a theater room, game room, and a hot tub out back. His family was wealthy, but never filthy rich. They went on a tropical cruise every year, he usually had the latest generation of phone and gaming system, and his parents always said they lived a “comfortable life.” This young man never had to worry about student loans and he always knew he could get a job in his father’s company whenever he wished.
Sounds amazing, right? Imagine all the financial and material tension in your life vanishing into thin air. What would you give to have this young man’s life? Now it’s time for our second painting:
Another young man grew up on the wrong side of town. He father was killed in a gang shooting when he was 3 and his mother couldn’t get clean off heroin so he went into foster care. Over all, most of his foster families were good, but he got passed from one family to the next for 15 years until he aged out of the system. He just got his own small apartment, his legal job prospects don’t pay well, and college seems almost impossible.
In my paintings, one kid ends up a respected scholar and the other a classic wash out. Can you guess who?
This post is about the difference between those who are delivered from adversity and those who have to fight tooth and nail to overcome it. One has an inspiring legacy because they worked so hard and never gave up on what was right. The other simply had their happy life handed to them. What power does that legacy have?
We all love the movies where the hero overcomes impossible odds, but when the movie ends, go home and start complaining about why we haven’t been magically saved from our troubles. We use our problems as proof that God doesn’t love us or that we must not be good enough. If we take an honest look around, we will agree that much of our society is built on this way of thinking, but what if it’s backwards?
From what I can tell, tough moral fiber doesn’t come from day spas and tropical cruises and genuine confidence doesn’t magically appear from money and academic degrees. These things usually come from underneath the grinding stone and out from the furnace. Truth is, we love watching a heroic story, long to be that person after it’s all said and done, but we are rarely willing to live in the pain. As John Eldredge once said, “I wanted to look like the knight, but I didn’t want to bleed like one.”
What if we turned all that around? Knowing that true courage cannot exist without first feeling fear, what if we became willing to walk through pain in order to gain the great honor we are desperate for?
The challenge I pose to myself and to you, the challenge that inspires such a blog title as this, is to set value in pain and respect what is broken. Reject the idea that imperfection should produce shame and replace it with the belief that mistakes can draw me forward and upward.
At the end of the day, I don’t want my life to be painful. I truly don’t. I wish my life could be perfect from this day forward, but that is simply not reality, and never will be. So, rather than chase after an artificially perfect life (like society would have me do), I choose to feel the burns, scars, and bruises of life in order to have honor, confidence, and a legacy that actually means something.
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