“It’s too hard,” he says looking at me with big brown eyes. Shoulders already slumped in defeat. I assure him he can do this, but I do know that in his mind: the task before him appears beyond reach. Outside the limits of capability. Like climbing a treacherous mountain. It’s monumental, this undertaking. And certainly everything does appear to be harder when you have not been through it before. When you are just learning the ropes.
Buttoning buttons, zippering zippers. Doing math problems. Reading books. Writing a story. Playing a piano piece. Starting a new job. Having a baby. Making important decisions that affect the lives of those around you. Life is filled with little and large tasks that just seem hard. Daunting, really.
“I am struggling too,” I find myself saying to my friend. We are chatting together after school, and I mention the January blues. The fact that I feel down and discouraged. I share with her my struggle right now with just carrying on in the midst of hard things. Because life sometimes presses in on us with its endless expectations, constant busyness, overwhelming miseries of both the ordinary kind and those of the extraordinary variety.
How do we carry on?
And how often we use that word hard in our every day conversations.
Why is life hard? And what does that word really mean? What kinds of things can be characterized as hard?
Well, anything, really. Everything can be thought of as hard depending on the situation. And because of this, we find living and moving forward to sometimes be more than we can handle.
It’s hard finding the means to smile when all you feel like doing is crying.
Hard too making the effort to reach out when all you want to do is curl up.
Hard to do all you can to just.keep.going.
Hard to keep your face to the wind.
Hard to weather life’s troubles and problems.
And it’s really hard to find meaning and purpose and reason in the face of the incomprehensible.
Life is just plain hard.
“You can do this,” I say to the little guy, moving toward him with open hands and a willing heart. “See, I’ll show you how.” And surely I will be there with him- every step of the way.
Can I change the reality that he must experience this on his own? No. Can I eliminate the difficulty? No. But I can be there through it all, lighting the way. Bringing illumination and clarity to clear the mind of needless excess so that all he has to do is make this happen.
And that is what happened. He did exactly what he said was too hard. In spite of believing he could never do the unthinkable.
In spite of that.
Life is hard— but we are here in community with one another for a reason. We are relational beings. We need each other. We have been created with a longing for connection. So when one of us struggles, we both do. When one of us feels the intensity of trouble, we both do. When one suffers, we both do. Because sharing the challenging, the difficult, the cruel realities of life: this is what we are made for.
Our lives are riddled with hard things that crop up in and amongst the beautiful and good. But the brutal will never overwhelm the good. Love always wins. Grace always wins. And with reminders of this Hope lived out in the lives of those who believe the Truth of this promise, we can overcome.
We will surely overcome.