What You Need to Know When Your Life Direction Gets Tough

You Can Choose Your Response to Resistance

When you’re thinking about stepping out in a new life direction, you should get advice. But be careful whom you ask for input.  Not everyone is qualified to give you guidance about stepping out by faith.

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I mention the need to get wise and experienced counsel in Episode 10 of  The FaithWalker’s Podcast.

There may be voices in our life that we respect, but if they have never attempted to do what we are contemplating, we should take their input with a grain of salt.

When I was a young boy, I read the coolest books in which I could choose my own adventure. The admittedly porous plot would unfold the same for everyone until a certain page in the story. At that watershed moment, the reader would be offered a choice:

Chase the three-headed dragon down the dismal hole (pg. 68) or feed the white wizard cheddar cheese (pg. 19).

I’d always choose one while keeping a finger in the other page — just in case my choice didn’t work out.

If only it worked that way in real life. The reality is that we must make choices, sometimes tough choices like leaving a job, risking failure chasing our dreams, or trying something new and scary— usually (ok, always) without the help of any white wizards.

And we will meet resistance when we try anything new

When confronted with the challenge of the learning curve at the start of anything new, we too can choose our own adventure.

We can choose our response before we begin. But we can’t keep a finger in each option — not without losing a valuable digit.

We must choose.

I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence, two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference. —Robert Frost

5 Common Options for Responding to Resistance

If we think of the challenge of this learning curve as a specific challenge—like swimming across a stormy lake—it might give our imagination a clearer picture of the options we face when confronting the given challenge.

I’ve seen five possible responses from which we can choose when our new life direction gets tough. See if you recognize these:

1. Avoid it. I call this the Jonah option.

Instead of facing a difficult adjustment to his ministry, he split. Ran away. Hid. Or tried to. The trouble with this approach is that wherever you go to hide from the curve, another one will always be waiting. And you’ll have to learn the lesson all over again.

2. Dip and quit. The one who chooses this option strolls to the edge of the shore, tentatively dips in a toe, grimaces, and decides not to go for it after all. You might even tell yourself a few of these common lies:

  • “I can always do it later. Some other time would be better when life finally returns to normal.” Whatever that is. We easily forget that what doesn’t get scheduled, usually doesn’t get done.
  • “I could do it if I wanted to – I just don’t want to.” Of course not. I believe you. Don’t you?
  •  “If God wanted me to swim, He would have given me…..” You get the idea. Shifting the blame to someone else, especially to God, lets us off the hook. For now. He’ll respond to your charge eventually.

3. Begin the journey–then drop out. If we choose this option, we might actually buy a jazzy swimsuit, get into the water, and flail around for a while before calling it quits. We might even appear to have made some progress through our learning the curve.

Of course, we’ll now be able to talk about the experience as if we’re experts.

And you’ll have plenty of company to console you and affirm your reasons for failing — oh, I mean, commend your wise decision to get out while the getting was good.

But you’ll always know the truth.

4. Survive the curve. If you make it this far, you’re in rare company, to be sure.

The person who chooses to survive the learning curve is the one who not only takes the plunge, but also perseveres through the waves, and staggers – gasping for breath and numb from exhaustion – onto the opposite shore.

To be fair, at least they made it. Most don’t.

Of course, it’ll take a week or two to regain any feeling in their limbs. And the pneumonia might linger for a while, but they survived. Sort of.

It’s kind of hard to tell with that perma-grin transfixed on their face all the time. Grin and bear it. That’s the key to survival if you choose to settle for that approach.

5. Thrive through the curve. Here’s where it gets exciting. Here’s where the growth takes place.

To thrive through the learning curve is to press forward “in the day of adversity.” To put your all into it because you know the resistance will only make your stronger.

Instead of hoping merely to survive the challenge, you lean into it. You give it your full focus knowing it’s only for a season and you’ll grow because of it. It’s a time to swim with a faith we never imagined we had. It’s the time to turn it up a notch.

Why?

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

Question: Which option do you find most common in your experience? Have you ever felt the temptation to choose a lesser option instead of sticking it out when your journey gets tough? Share your thoughts by clicking here.

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