Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Embrace the Struggle

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Does your life, the story you are trying to tell, feel like a struggle?

Two Types of Paths

The city opened a new park near our house. Multiple farms were welded together like a jigsaw puzzle, stitched one to another with fences and paved roads and walking paths. The park stretches for miles. And it is beautiful.

The grounds are full of the typical things. Playgrounds. Open spaces. Woods. And trails.

When we visit, we pull our big van into one of the spaces and get out. And then we have a choice to make. Which trail will we take?

Some paths are easier to walk than others.

One is made of concrete. A bulldozer was brought in and the ground was leveled. A gravel base was placed over the soil. Forms were set and then filled with concrete. The sidewalk has been split to allow for the changes in temperature. To allow the concrete to swell and contract, preventing it from cracking. To prevent the path from becoming fragmented and disfigured.

When we take our kids on walks with us in the park, the little ones do best with this type of trail. They can run back and forth. If they get ahead of us, we can still see them. They spend less time complaining. They seldom fall and scrape their knee.

photo by Kat Gloor

photo by Kat Gloor

The other kind of path isn’t as easy to walk on. These paths go through the woods. They traverse old soy bean fields and the streams that run along the side of them. They are filled with roots and rocks. Sometimes a dead old tree will obstruct the way. To keep going we have to climb over.

The sides of the path are covered with thorns that seem to reach out towards us, trying to grab our clothing and skin. The surface is mud and dirt and is filled with holes.

Sometimes the path isn’t even clear. We find a fork in the road and we don’t know which way we were meant to go.

Our Favorite Path

We take both paths. Sometimes we need the walk to be comfortable. But the second path, the harder one, is our favorite.

On the harder path, the air feels cleaner. Our hearts are filled with a greater sense of beauty. We see more animals. We see impossibly large trees that have been there for over a hundred years.

It is in the walking of this second type of path that we feel more alive.

Eventually the path leads us back to our van. The first path is good exercise for everyone. The second path fills us with life. And when we take the second, we always wish the journey didn’t have to end.

The Struggle

Does your story come easy? Does everything seem to work out for you? Is your path clear, like a man made trail of concrete?

Or is your path filled with thistles and thorns? Is the path obscured? Do you feel lost?

Are you struggling?

The struggle can be hard. The struggle can be the part that we hate the most. It beats us down. It makes us wonder why we started. Why do we try? Why go there?

But the struggle is as important as where we want to go. Finding our way is as important as where we end up.

The struggle is where we change. The struggle is where we grow. The struggle is where we learn.

The struggle is where we learn to love.

When we give, especially of our ourselves, when we give our blood and body, this is when we are most like Jesus. This is when we change the world. This is when people stop saying, “I knew it wouldn’t be different this time.”

When we struggle is keep going is when people see something different. When there is a little bit of light in the darkness.

Today, be thankful for the struggle. Embrace it. When you trip over a rock and fall and scrape your knee on the ground, see that this is good. When you feel lost and don’t know which way to turn, simply choose one of the paths and keep going. Wherever it takes you is good.

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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3 Replies

  1. Bill Barko

    Great points today. I recently returned from Sierra Leone. We were training hospital chaplains – the first group of trained hospital chaplains we knew of. Each one experienced overwhelming challenges for almost all their lives. Their faith was rich and deep. We were humbled by their love and compassion for others.

  2. Katharine

    Very good. Thanks for this. I think when we lay aside our own preference for others (when we choose the easy path although we prefer the more natural path) that is another sort of struggle, gaining self-control. So everything we do can be a type of struggle….

  3. I agree. In some situations, if we aren’t struggling to some degree, maybe we need to re-evaluate.

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