Ouch, I Didn't Want to Hear That!

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
— James 1:2-4

Ouch, I didn’t want to hear that! I don’t want to hurt! I don’t like trials! I don’t want tests! Can I skip the trials and tests and just “lack something” maybe be a little imperfect and a little incomplete? Yes, I actually can skip many of the tests and trials of life; at least I can postpone many of them. Problem is I am likely to wind up more than just a little imperfect and more than a little incomplete, and lacking more than a little. 

Tenacity was our subject couple of weeks ago. Life is tenacious. 

Dr. Phyliss Kosminsky in her book on complicated grief says,“Life attaches to us as we roll through it. Choose your own metaphor. We are tumbleweeds, snowballs, the sum total of what sticks to us as we move through life becoming larger and more complex. Some of what we acquire helps us survive; some of it weighs us down. Some of what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and some of it cripples us. Much of what happens as we tumble through life is unanticipated and beyond our control.” 

I can’t choose all that sticks to me as I tumble through the storms of life, neither the butterflies, nor the grubs. I can’t choose what trials, tests of faith, accidents, mean people, etc. come into my life. How much of what we are is because of our environment? Some say a lot, some say only a little. Are we victims of our circumstances? Are we a creation of our circumstances? My friends in Bolivia had a saying they repeated often. “Lo que no mata, engorda.” It means, “What doesn’t kill, fattens.” 

I am similar to my dad in several ways, height, weight, appetite, and I have some of the same habits that dad had. Am I a copy of my dad? No, I’m not even a poor copy. My hair color is different, skin tone is different…we are a lot different. I know that if you were to dig up dad’s bones, do a DNA test for both of us, we are closely and inexorably linked, but we are different. A large part of that difference comes from his having grown up in the age of the horse and buggy during the Dust Bowl Days and the Great Depression compared to my growing up with tractors, cars and airplanes. 

A lot of life has attached to me as I have been rolling through it. I’m convinced that I cannot and should not blame all my problems on things that have attached to me. I have to “man-up” and admit it when I make a mistake. Let me change that last statement. I don’t “have to” admit it when I make a mistake. There is always some part of life that has attached to me that I can blame for my mistakes. The blame game reminds me of a Tee-shirt I saw recently that said something like, “I Didn’t Say It Was Your Fault…I Said I’m Blaming You.” I can always find something or someone to blame for my mistakes. 

Regarding life that has attached to us as we roll through it, how are we going to deal with those? Some we can “dust off” and move on. Other things change us for the rest of our lives. Many major health events like strokes, heart issues, and other diseases are survivable, but change the way we live for the rest of our lives. Grief and grieving is another that has been real to me. I can deny it, try to bury it, and have it raise its ugly head at the most inopportune times for the rest of my life, or I can wade through the emotional messiness of grief and come out stronger on the other side. 

I can choose to make my spiritual life a priority. I can choose to keep enough of God’s Word in my life that the Holy Spirit has plenty to work with as I am shaped into the person I need to be. I choose to be tenacious in my spirituality. I choose to tenaciously scrape off the bad things that have attached to me as I roll through life. I choose to find forgiveness and give forgiveness. I choose to foster and care for the good things that have attached to me as I have rolled through my life. I choose to tenaciously steer my life through as many good and healthy places(spiritually, physically and emotionally healthy) as I possibly can in hope that many of those things attach to me. 

In last week’s article I wrote that what is on the inside will eventually come out. I can also choose what I allow on the inside.