Unfortunately, I don’t always get the time to sit and have long meaningful conversations with my wife Rochie. We both have challenging jobs, which, combined with raising our children and trying to keep our house in some sort of order, leaves us pretty busy and exhausted. Therefore I was thrilled that we left for our vacation in Northern California at 4 am. While the kids slept, we got to spend time talking about more than dinner, school or homework.
Until we moved here from New Jersey, I didn’t realize that much of Southern California, like much of the Southwest is a desert. As we drove, I told Rochie how much I enjoyed the desert scenery. I added that I thought that there was much that we could learn from it. Even though the desert, due to the hot days and cold nights, is not green and beautiful in the usual sense, the severe weather produces a different kind of beauty. So too, I suggested, the pain we go through in life leads to much growth that wouldn’t occur in more pleasant conditions. Rochie countered by saying that she found the desert to be beautiful, no less so than other types of scenery. Upon reflecting on our conversation, I realized that we were talking about two different approaches to the challenges of life.
Through my marathon running, I have come to believe that much growth comes through pain. Without the burn in my lungs and the post run soreness, I would not have been able to complete a marathon. To me, the challenges of life are beneficial despite their pain. The pain is a sometimes unavoidable negative that leads to a positive. Buried in this approach is an attitude that life would be better, if it was easier. Rochie’s perspective is so much deeper. Life’s challenges as well as the resulting growth are themselves good. Coming as they do from a benevolent loving God, they are not bad that leads to good, they are good themselves. For now I can only admire her approach and hope that in time, with hopefully much more time together, I continue to learn from her.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.