Sometimes words of wisdom only become wise when you’ve lived enough life to understand them. Words spoken during the arrogance of youth resurface decades later like pearls pulled from the depth of the sea. It is amazing how some part of you reaches out and tucks them away knowing that while you’re too clueless to realize it in the moment someday you will need those words to help you grow.
I recently had one of those treasures unearthed. Words spoken decades ago in one of those ordinary moments, suddenly released by a modern day random thought. I could hear the words of my old pastor, in his down south accent that brought to mind porch swings and sweet tea saying, “Go through some things first.” It was advice given to those young and in love and eager to marry. At the time I was nowhere near marriage but the words stuck.
He advised us starry eyed young people to date long enough to allow life to throw you a few challenges before taking the next step. It made sense at the time but has become more profound as the years have passed. In essence you never know how strong something is until you apply pressure.
Financial pressures, illness, children and more test the strongest of relationships. If you have never had so much as a spat you will never know the strength of your partner, yourself or your relationship.
The principle is true in every aspect of your life. You find out what you’re really made of when pressure is applied. When pressure is applied will you crack into pieces or will you be strong enough to bend without breaking? Job loss, business failure, betrayal of a friend, injury, illness – does it take you down for the count or do you feel the heat but continue to look for solutions? How about your attitude? Do you become ill tempered and surly or gracious and respectful?
We spend a great deal of time polishing the outer layers and chasing external goals. Yet, what really matters is what lies beneath the layers, the foundation that will sustain us in good and bad times.
The funny thing about pressure is that it does not have to be a win or lose situation. Pressure can reveal those areas that need to be stretched, strengthened or reshaped altogether. We are born with flexibility but it takes work to sustain it. We must continue to stretch daily, breathing and reaching a little farther to be strong yet bendable.
So, what are you made of? When pressure is applied will you shatter into pieces or do you have the strength to bend without breaking?
Whatever your answer, it’s never too late to work on your strength and flexibility. Train those areas that are weak and meet the next challenge with confidence.