So I am aware that I’m posting this very late. And I worry that it will teach my mom the wrong lesson – if you nag enough, eventually I’ll do what you ask. But here it is, finally! Day 34

Why Hard Days are Important

Easy, good days are a balm to the soul, when everything is flying along the way it’s supposed to, and you feel like God is smiling on you and nothing can go wrong. When you feel like you can run up every mountain and conquer anything you might face.
Ah, good days. Your heart sings. Your countenance is radiant.

But then comes a hard day. Or maybe a whole series of hard days.
You slog through the day. Each step feels like it’s uphill. Each choice is a battle warring within you.
Maybe you wonder why God seems to have turned his face, his blessings, away from you. Why he’s not giving you the easy way. Why it seems like he’s not leading any more.

On easy days, a sunny attitude is the easiest thing to have.
But on the hard days, you have to choose your attitude. It’s not naturally sunny and bright. It’s not easy to rejoice in everything – you have to work at it.

But the thing is, the hard days are the days of growth.

Every athlete knows that the only way to improve is to challenge oneself physically. Muscle only grows and increases when if it is given work that is hard. A musician only gets better by practicing the skills that were once hard.

I heard once of an experiment where trees were planted inside a large greenhouse. The trees had everything that they needed – sunlight, water, nutrients. The trees grew well and quickly, and were soon tall. But then they began to fall over. Without any wind to challenge them, the trees lacked sufficient strength to stand upright.

I don’t know if this story is actually true, but it’s meaning certainly rings true. It is easy to choose the right attitude when everything is going well. Growth occurs when we choose the right attitude when things are hard. Growth happens when we choose to push forward in the right direction when we seem to be making no progress. Growth occurs when we keep doing the right things, the hard things, even when we wish we were doing anything but.
Then we can say, as Apostle Paul said, that we have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, whether plenty or want, whether ease or hardship. Because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Today’s walk was a challenging one. It was good to ponder the above things while walking, and especially remind myself that I CHOSE to do this hard thing.
If I kept the right attitude, I could find small things to appreciate and even enjoy in this hard walk – mountains and sunshine, great company, a cute puppy. I reflected on how much stronger I am than when I began this journey – hills are challenging, but not as challenging as before. This was the longest walk I’ve done yet, at 35 kilometres, but I made it and finished well, if exhausted. I also made the walk in eight hours, including stops, thanks to encouraging friends and a great leader setting a manageable, steady, but quick pace.

Tomorrow I will be walking through rain. It was frustrating to check the forecast and see storms and rain predicted for the whole day, but it is a chance again to choose the right attitude, and choose to grow.
I will choose to do hard things. And I will strive to do them well.

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