What to Expect When You Step Out in a New Life Direction

The Easy Path Isn’t Always the Right Path

When you’re considering stepping out in a new life direction, you should not expect it to always be easy. There is a learning curve that each of us must experience at the start of anything new.

curve

The curve can be scary when you’re in it, even bewildering and disorienting. That is normal.

Let me repeat that: it is normal to find the curve to be challenging.

Following your new life direction will be scary at times. You will experience turbulence.

When you step out in a new life direction it is almost always going to be harder than you thought it would be.

So many times in my life I’ve begun something new and then been surprised to confront this learning curve yet again.

Why was I surprised? I don’t know, frankly. Overconfidence? Mistaking for reality what my creative side told me was a possibility? Probably both.

But the fact that I met resistance didn’t mean I was wrong. Faith isn’t faith until it’s tested.

There’s a common myth I find especially  popular  among among people of faith. I suppose since we are all people of faith at our core, you’ll find this myth everywhere.

It is this: Easy means right. Difficult means wrong.

Put differently, if it’s hard, something must be off. Smooth sailing means you’re on the right path. But this is just not true, at least not always.

What makes it so believable is that sometimes it is true, or seems to be.

The Harsh Reality

Think of what God told Paul after knocking him down to get his attention on the road to Damascus: “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

In case you’re not up on your agrarian cultural lingo, the goads were sharp sticks set just behind the legs of oxen. Often, when the animals refused to move forward, they would kick back—against the well-positioned goads.

Ouch! The oxen got the point, and the team began moving again.

Let’s face it. Some things are supposed to be difficult in God’s universe.

If you travel around killing people and claiming you’re doing it for God, your life is likely to get pretty tough at some point. Seal Team Six just might burst into your room one night and personally introduce you to the One you claim to be following.

In other cases, our behaviors produce natural consequences. If I try felling some trees by gnawing at them until they fall, I can expect some dental discomfort.

If you do stupid stuff, you can expect a hard life. That doesn’t mean you’re in the learning curve.

The way of the lazy man is filled with thorns. —Solomon

Ouch! Again. 

It’s easy to see why we might think that if life is tough we must be doing something wrong.

But the path of growth is always difficult for a season. Always. And always goes through the start of the learning curve.

A Few Tough Cases

Think of Jesus and his uphill path to the cross. End results? Highly exalted with the Name above every name.

The Via Dolorosa was not easy. But was he on the right path?

David the shepherd had to take on a giant in his growth path. Difficult? You bet. Right path? I’m thinking–let me check–yes.

Peter, the hot-headed apostle, had to take a challenging path to get to the next level of usefulness for God. He went from the boisterous disciple who rebuked Jesus to the startled friend with fumbling sword skills, to a cowering shadow of a man humbled by an anonymous servant by the fire.

And then he quit. Dropped out. Finished.

Until a fish offered was over hot coals on the beach.

No doubt a hug.

Maybe a tear.

Then Pentecost.

The world turned upside-down.

Every child feels this pain every time he stumbles. Growing feet cause skinned knees. But every child still wants to grow.

Don’t let the growth challenge of the learning curve stop you. It’s the only path to success.

The greatest potential for the most explosive growth is found only in the curve.

It is precisely when the going gets tough that we find our greatest opportunity to grow.

Scripture tells us that, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” The converse is equally true.

If you press forward when the going gets tough, your strength will be enlarged.

The resistance we meet at the start of a new life direction is a gift of God to grow us into more than we can imagine ourselves to be.

Question: How do you tend to view resistance when stepping out into something new? Have you heard this notion that easy is right and difficult is wrong? Share your thoughts by clicking here.

Next post: Common responses to adversity when we set out—and the one we should choose.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or otherwise unhelpful.

  • Clayton Sturm

    The worst situation is not just when you experience challenges while stepping out in faith and doing something counter-cultural, but when your church-going family joins with the devil in the, “See? It’s too hard so give up and fall in line” chant.

    It can be hard to keep the right perspective in the midst of difficulty. I try to remind myself that a Christian’s measure off success isn’t the results, those belong to God. Our measure of success is how obedient and faithful we are to the truth of God’s Word.