One Thing to Know When Family, Friendship, and Faith Are Hard

Why does everything still feel so hard, all the time?

If I took the pulse of my conversations with friends over the past week, so many of them would testify to the same arrhythmia. Different situations, different struggles, and yet so much the same.

I only recognize it, because I’ve known, tasted, and felt suffocated by it too. 

Marriage is hard, friendship feels distant or family is continually complicated, but that’s not the real issue at hand. We’ve known those challenges for years, and herein lies the real question. 

Why is this still so hard?

When Everything Feels Hard

Compounding Expectations

We’ve been married 20 years. There are times when it’s great. But why is it sometimes still so hard?

I’m not a rookie mom. I’ve known my share of fits and fights, but why is patience still so hard?

I’ve known Jesus long. Sat and served and even studied a little, but why are faith and faithfulness still so hard for me?

My heart aches in compassion as I trace the lines of conversational symmetry, symmetrical hurt. The enemy, a counterfeit, never was all that creative. As we grow in the fear and admonition of the Lord, as our simple days of knowing Christ quietly compound, our expectations often do as well. We grope for the fruit of faithfulness fast, hunger early while much growth is still needed. And the enemy will exploit every wayward thought.

My marriage is terrible. My kids are a mess. Family is forever frustrating. I stink at following Christ.

I’m failing at all of it.

If only we’ll believe this lie, the rest will go down more easily. Perhaps I picked the wrong man. Checking out is easier, better. Distance is safer. I’m not cut out for this. 

Hard Is Part of the Journey

I’ve heard it and felt it enough to know some of you may be feeling it today too – feeling the shame of some supposed maturity, tallied years that come with a new, or different, or even the same hard. And it’s not the hard that hits you as much of the shock that you’re still struggling with it. 

Please know this, friend, the hard is ever part of the journey here and it must be our mission to live and love through them.

I remember a phone call with my mom a few years after I was married. She casually mentioned a disagreement she was having with my dad about where they would spend an upcoming holiday and her words were an unanticipated blow to my expectations. “Wait a minute, you and dad have been married this long and you still disagree about where to spend holidays?”  And thus began my education in learning to love someone for a lifetime. There will be bumps.

There will be bumps in our reflexes and reactions even as we seek to follow Christ. We will trip on old and new sins doing, as Paul says, the very thing we hate (Romans 7:15). But how we respond here, what we know to be true here, is what makes all the difference.

Know Grace and Know Truth

Shame will sink us if we fail to know Truth. Grace is the gift extended to us. We are justified and redeemed not by our own behavior but by our great Savior, Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:24) So rather than letting the bumps surprise or defeat us, we can expect them, anticipate them and, even more, anticipate our proper response because of His great work. We confess sin and don’t let it compound. We refuse to let our thoughts spin viral, but we take them captive and align them with Truth. And we commit to keep running our race with endurance.

You don’t need endurance for easy races, friend. You need endurance for the long haul, for long races that have some bumps. That’s the kind of race we are running. Let’s run keep right on running it well.

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