• Justin Myers

Do Hard Things

Most things worth doing in life are hard.

Sadly, I tend to get discouraged with things don't come easily to me. I give up when the going gets tough. Have you been there before? You decide you want to start running, but you run your first mile and think, "I could never keep this up, that was so hard." Or you try a new hobby and it doesn't turn out great, and in your disappointment you don't want to try again. Or you try to cook beignets, and melt a plastic spoon, ruining most of the fried goods. Whoops!

My habits follow this trend: I plan something, and cast a vision, and idealize what it would look like for me to run a half marathon, or start a blog, or begin a new productive habit. Then, when it gets hard and doesn't go as planned, I get discouraged and eventually give up. Before I know it, I look behind me and there is a pile of started projects left unfinished, which only makes it easier to give up on hard things next time.

I am learning though that most things worth doing are not easy. Most things worth doing in life are hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. School is hard. Work is hard. My wife recently did the hardest thing I have ever seen anyone do before--give birth! (And she did it for the second time.) Kasey would admit the challenge of giving birth, but would not give it up, because of the two little children we now have. The hardest thing I have seen anyone ever do was worth it because of the joy on the other side. It is a perfect example of the truth that good things worth doing are hard.

Since I have not personally given birth, my teacher in worthy-yet-hard tasks is running. It is a good teacher. When running, I think about how it applies to the other challenges life brings. I ran my first 5K this Thanksgiving, and it wasn't easy. But running that far without the adrenaline of a race day is even harder. There are many times when it would be so easy to stop because a hill is too steep, my legs are too weak, or I am just not enjoying the exertion. And when I go a week without running I tend to think, "Bummer. Looks like I am not going to be able to keep up with this running thing. I'll probably just quit. Its too hard to be consistent."

I hate that I approach challenges like this. But acknowledging my lack of resilience in hardship brings clarity. Seeing the difficulty and acknowledging that something like running is hard gives me the conscious opportunity to either quit or keep going. If running is worth it, if it has any value, then the hardship is a necessary hurdle. The main reason I started to run was to be healthy--that is what makes the physical exertion worth it for me. Running isn't easy, it takes time, effort, planning, care for your body, and consideration of what you eat and drink. Acknowledging the difficulty, and being aware of the temptation to quit when challenges arise, helps me to respond better when things get tough.

Every time I decide to go out for another run and see it through to the end, I don't regret it. Why? Because there is a sense of accomplishment at the finish, and an understanding that pushing of my body to to something hard was worth it. It was another step toward being healthy. It was another step to establish a healthy lifestyle. It was another challenge worth pushing through.

My encouragement to you today is to keep doing that thing that is difficult, or start again--whatever it is for you. I remember reading several years ago a quote, I think from Tim Keller, that said "anything worth doing is worth doing imperfectly at first". So start, and allow yourself room to fail and to grow in the struggle. If what you are doing is of value, it is worth the struggle and exertion it takes to make it happen. So stick with the marriage. Stick with the tough work. Stick with the ministry. Stick with the degree. Stick with the work-out plan. If you fall, get back up and take the next step forward.

If you don't have anything hard you are doing right now, I challenge you to start something hard. At the very least, it will build up your tolerance for difficulty and come in handy when life itself gets hard. Try a new hobby. Read a book all the way through. Build something with your hands. Run a marathon. Start a business. Learn a language. Get married. Have kids. No one is totally ready for big challenges in life. But when a challenge comes and we wade the rough waters through to the other side, we are better for it.

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