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Let Life Be Difficult

Last week, Katie and I got to stay at a friend’s vacation home.  It was a place we’d been many times before and we’ve built about a thousand of some of our best memories there – times with just us, times with family and friends, times to recharge, reflect and rest, times to laugh and play and dream.  Our friends are thinking about selling the place and we offered them $1000 for it and they said they’ll “pray about it.”  This was the first time we took our baby boy.

Recharging, reflecting, and resting rarely include the company of one-year-olds.

I had been planning on all of the reflection and recharging I could possibly stand.  I had looked forward to the time away from work and routine.  I couldn’t wait to just lie in the sun and read a good book.  But I spent most of the week tossed back and forth between anger and frustration over the fact that it just wasn’t happening.  One-year-olds are so selfish and needy.

I tried to reason with Ryder that this was “daddy’s time” to rest and reflect on his life and consider the years that lay ahead and what new dreams God may want to dream through him.  Also, I wanted to get a tan.  Ryder seemed ambivalent and smeared more avocado on his face.

The last morning of the week, Katie and I got to go out to breakfast together, just her and I.  We vented some of our frustrations.  It turned out she hadn’t relaxed for more than a couple hours the whole week, either.  It was good to vent.  It was good to connect, just she and me.  It was good to do this over pancakes while looking out at gorgeous natural wonders like Mt Bachelor and golf courses.

As we talked, a phrase came to mind: Let it be hard.

In other words, let life be difficult.  Let it be challenging.  Don’t expect it to be easy.

Our problem wasn’t that it was a difficult week in our happy place.  Our problem was we had expected it to be easy.  Classic first-time parent mistake, maybe, but can you blame us?

Don’t you expect certain things to be easy, too?  Doesn’t some part of you assume you’re supposed to get a break, get some alone time, get a raise, get a perfect spouse, get a perfect round of golf, get that opportunity you’ve been hoping for?

“Let it be hard” helped us locate our souls again as we thought about how, of course, it’s hard traveling with a one-year-old.  Of course it’s not going to be like it was before Ryder.  Of course “our time” was going to flow his direction.  Of course.  It was our expectations that had tripped us up all week.  Fortunately, we bonded over the fact and had a wonderful breakfast and took our picture in front of a big stuffed bear.

“In this world, you will have trouble,” said Jesus.  He probably had a smile on his face when he said it.  Especially because of the next thing he said: “But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Vacationing with a one-year-old is not starving to death or living in poverty or getting sold as a sex slave.  It’s a 21st Century, Western, Middle Class problem.  But still.  “Let it be hard” reminds me that the world is not as it should be but that one day it will be.  It reminds me that my strength and insight are not enough to navigate life successfully.  It reminds me that my life is not all about me, that I was made to pour out my life for others, that, in fact, that’s how life works best.  In the end, it was a wonderful vacation.  Not peaceful the way I thought it should be.  But meaningful and satisfying to my soul, the way God knew I actually needed.

Ryder’s waking up now and will be all needy again.  Gotta go.  He’s so sleepy-beautiful when he wakes up.

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