Joy is Not the Absence of Conflict

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes. ~ Jack Handey

by Pete Ferguson

Okay, so maybe the opening quote isn’t quite related to the article, but it is really funny – and for a morning that is 5 degrees above zero on a day I chose to wear shorts to the gym, funny is good.

Over the weekend, my wife and I heard a discourse with the quote “Joy is not the absence of conflict.” We know the couple who delivered the message well, and they are two of the happier people I know. I also know that they have dealt with a great amount of conflict.

Two people who have developed joyful characters will navigate through problems and be sustained by a daily sense of joy. ~ Valerie Layton

Along the lines of yesterday’s blog on the “7th rep,” it is true that for muscular gain, maturity, and mental and spiritual growth, the lessons usually come after the trail.

When a budding Monarch butterfly first emerges from its cocoon, it is not in its majestic form. Its body is swollen and its wings appear too small to fly. Through a slow and methodically flapping of its wings, blood is forced from the body into the wings and they begin to enlarge as the body shrinks.

Our friend suggested the following three things to overcome adversity and find the joy in life’s challenges:

  1. Rejoice – Whether large or small, celebrations allow us to focus on the positive and give ourselves credit for overcoming struggles.
  2. Be honest. Allow emotions out of the dark recesses of your mind. Understand things as they really are – don’t make assumptions, but take time to work through your own emotions and understand where others are coming from.
  3. Be thankful. Grapple with problems with confidence, knowing that you will make it through the storm and focus on the blessing you have received already.

I’d add to the list: Don’t make assumptions. Even if your assumption is right, it does you little good and if you are wrong, it makes you look foolish. I’ve wasted a lot of time on assumptions, so I speak as an authoritative figure on this topic.

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ~ Malachy McCourt

I’m grateful for the conflicts I have in my life – but I’m not usually grateful for them during the storm. I’m working on this, because a life without challenges is a bit pointless, really. Leaning into the pain allows for more control, less resentment, and a quicker recovery.

What challenges are you grateful for today? Are you in the depths of the storm, or are you able to look back and find the lessons learned?

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Refiner’s Fire

You only learn who and what you are when you are living in the unfamiliar. ~ Josh Herman (Beauty & the Geek 2)

Pete Ferguson

Without adversity, a tree would not grow to towering heights, a butterfly would never develop its beauty, a pile of rock could never be forged into steel.

So it is with human beings, the more adversity we survive and seek out, the stronger our will and determination will be forged in life’s fires.

You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.

~Walt Disney

Growing up you likely heard many times phrases such as “life wasn’t meant to be easy,” or “suck it up, you will survive.” At the time these sayings were delivered, you likely did not appreciate the “words of wisdom.”

But time can heal all wounds – or rather the maturity and perspective we gain over time help us see adversity in a different light.

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently have spoken with two separate friends, each of whom when through a divorce not of their choosing. Both of whom were confronted by the infidelities of their wife and told the marriage they had been working so hard on was to be dissolved.

I walked with them through their trials, the hurt, the pain, the seeming despair. But with time, each has risen out of the ashes a stronger person with greater resolve to make their relationships with family and friends an even stronger bond.

Out of the refiner’s fire can come a glorious deliverance, there will be a reawakening of dormant, inner resources, self-pity will vanish as our blessings are counted.

~ James E. Faust (paraphrased)

Within my marriage, it is the trials that have defined our bond and caused the most growth. As I look at the relationship with each of my children, the trials are what matter, because in the trials are where true commitment and love are tested.

You may be thrilled that 2012 is over. You may have the most difficult year yet ahead.

What I am learning in life is that great people are forged in the great fire of life and continuously seek to be out of their comfort zone. As I work on my goals, I’m always reaching just beyond where I think I am able to withstand the heat. And each time I am amazed as I look back and realize that I survived, I learned something new, and I grew as a human being.

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. ~Frank A. Clark

Coaches are essential as they push us to a new level they know we are capable of – but we do not feel we can achieve. They provide a path to success and quickly tailor their approach if we are about to give up or need more encouragement.

Coaches come in the form of parents, teachers, friends, therapists, personal trainers, athletic coaches, mentors, and within our family.

Are you seeking out adversity? Or like I did for many years, are you looking to hide in the shadows but then complaining about the cold?

January is heading for its halfway mark, where are you in achieving your resolutions – or have you chosen to forego resolutions this year because of previous failures?

 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. ~ Isaiah 48:10