Saturday, December 3, 2011
Keep Your Current Challenge In Perspective - There's More!
Unfortunately, after a couple of good night's sleep, the jetlag was playing games with me. Even an extra portion of my usual sleeping medications didn't help.
Jetlag has a way of showing up when you least expect it.
I also knew that the conference was actually starting the next night and I had a day of writing and other preparations ahead of me. I tossed and turned, got up several times, read for awhile as my wife slept nearby. It was tempting to get mad and worry that I wouldn't have the stamina to handle the next several busy days well.
Our other life struggles can be like that, can't they? We're doing well on our climb and we've overcome some pretty big challenges. But the current setback, obstacle, or surprise that overwhelms us seems to be taking us over for a time. "Why now?" we ask. And usually there's no good answer to that question. It just happens. We can't change it.
I don't know what sleepless night or unexpected boulder you're facing on your climb right now. But if it feels like it has the potential to overwhelm you let me offer a couple of suggestions affirmed during my night in Moscow.
First, remember this is only one night in your life. This moment is one small part of the big picture. It shouldn't and can't define you. You've had other great opportunities, other victories, and you'll have more. But this moment is what it is. Live with it. Endure it. Make the most of it.
Second, don't forget you've been through tough things before. Before my son Tim and I climbed our first 14,000 foot mountain, Long's Peak, I also had a terrible time sleeping. I was anxious about the unknowns of the mountain even though I'd read many articles about it and felt as prepared as possible. Nonetheless, I think I only slept 2-3 hours that night.
Nonetheless, the next day we rookies climbed Long's with all its challenges. Some 12 hours later we had summitted and made it back to the trailhead. I often think back to that day during hard times and remember that I did something big on very little sleep. I say to myself, "Look, you climbed Long's on very little rest so you can get through this too."
We need some watershed moments to look back to that will help us through the hard nights.
Third, use the time for something good. When you're up in the middle of the night you might as well get up and read rather than get mad because you're having a rough time. The same is true when life gives you a restless time or a mountain to climb that you didn't plan on. Remember that challenges can teach us something. Use this time for good, make something out of the bad day. Go serve someone, develop a new idea, take a step you've never taken before even while you're facing a hardship.
So if you are experiencing a challenging time right now, open your eyes to bigger things, something that perhaps God wants to teach you or a lesson you can learn that you might have missed otherwise. The dark night need not overwhelm you. The light will come soon. But never quit climbing.