August 24, 2015

How our Trials can Improve Our Character

Please see if anything in this list of complaints sounds familiar:
  • “I rarely sleep well.”
  • “My kids don’t always listen.”
  • “I’m  realllly “done with” this traumatizing relationship/health/career______(fill in the blank) challenge. Literally, I don’t know how I can last another day!”
  • “I’m not getting a regular paycheck. How much longer do I have to drive around a car that’s older than my eldest child—who’s now an adult?”
  • “My family isn’t nurturing me effectively.”
  • “When am I going to see a reward for all my sacrifices—inside and outside of my home?”

If none of these gripes specifically relate to you, please substitute any number of other complaints. The point is that sometimes life is unfair; there’s no getting around it. Even if we live in an area blessed by abundance and untouched by natural and unnatural catastrophes, unexpected problems will crop up.

What is the Solution?

It’s difficult, but we must look beyond the trauma of the here and now. There are several levels of looking at any problem, ranging from the most shortsighted to the least shortsighted:

Important Question: What can I do to improve the situation, if anything?
More Important Question:  What am I supposed to learn?
Most Important Question: How will the adverse circumstances permanently enhance me?

Positive Results From Trials…Really?!

As Joyce Meyer says, God may be working for something deeper than our immediate comfort. In a society addicted to relaxation, many of us may demand, “What is more important than ease? Are you kidding me?!” No, I’m not. Comfort and convenience are NOT vital to our well-being; good character is.

Examples of Learning Through Setbacks

Alice—This friend tried to fit in with the popular crowd, for a time, when she was a teen. She changed her hair, makeup, and clothes. She was initially confused and devastated when the cool students didn’t accept her. However, she eventually learned self-acceptance, and she left that group. She also learned the crucial lesson that people who insist on changing us before they accept us aren’t worth our time.

Joseph—He is a handsome, intelligent, talented young man who previously had a cocky attitude. A degenerative, genetic eye disease has severely limited his vision in recent years. This has taught him humility.

Me—Through my suffering, I have cultivated an unbelievable patience. It’s absolutely foreign to me to yell, cuss, and honk at drivers if they keep me waiting for one whole second (gasp!). (When you live where I do, you see many such examples.)

My son, J.D.—He is a cashier at a local big-box store. You can imagine how much he is learning about human nature from the many selfish—and kind—people he encounters. The administration has fired quite a few employees lately due to inefficiency. For that reason, the checkout lines are often long. Yesterday, a customer put my sensitive, sheltered son in an actual state of shock when he yelled and cussed at him for five minutes because he had to wait in line for 45 minutes.

My Conclusion

Trials aren’t easy to go through; otherwise, they wouldn’t be called “trials”. The good news is that we are all works in progress. We are all learning and growing. Our unavoidable challenges refine us by teaching us essential lessons, such as patience, humility, self-acceptance, and becoming a student of human nature.

How have your challenges benefited you?

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