Last summer, I heard a sermon where the pastor quoted the great philosopher John Wayne, "Life is hard. It's even harder when you're stupid." This floated into my mind this week for no apparent reason, and after chuckling again, I began thinking about how frustrating and uphill the path of life can feel sometimes.
I wish I was more competent at the things I do, and more sensitive to the feelings of others, and endlessly patient with myself and my kids. I am not any of these things. Every time I start something new I panic inside. I want to be comfortable and not stretched to where it hurts, but without those challenges, my life becomes stale and dull. We all need to be pushed sometimes, but the process is damn hard, and always exhausting.
I feel like I climb and I climb with my own personal growth, and I've only come a very short distance. I want success to be easier than it is. What kills me is how incremental our lives are. It's building block on building block, until eventually the building is complete, but it takes years to see any kind of progress on anything, and sometimes the overnight success idea taunts me from a distance.
Somewhere deep down, I understand that there is no such thing as overnight successes. It takes work and discipline on a daily basis in order to see any dream become a reality, but every now and then I get really discouraged, and I look for a shortcut to the top of the mountain I'm trying to climb. There are no detours on this road. I have to walk it, step by step, pausing sometimes to watch the sun set or rise, or to marvel at how far I've actually come. You can't tell how far you've traveled in just six months, or even a few years, but as the years pile up you can measure the distance, and you start to find a little perspective about how far you still have to go.
I suppose I simply have to accept that I will keep learning and growing for the rest of my life. Just because I'm halfway through doesn't mean I have it all together. I still feel very stupid when I'm trying new things or working with fresh ideas. I will probably always wonder if I've said or done the right thing with my kids, my family or my friends. It's hard to know, but I do believe that I am further along my road of personal growth than I have ever been before.
Sometimes I need to measure how far I've come instead of the distance I still need to cover to get to my goal. It's good that we have an entire lifetime to work all of this out, and although nothing is guaranteed, I'm working from the premise that I still have time to improve and to grow and to succeed in my climb.