My first morning out was stressful indeed. An ocean of taillights awaited me.
Trying to focus on which lane to be in, exactly when to be in it and how best to get there left me tense, tired and longing for a chauffeur.
As I topped the final hill before leaving the other travelers behind, I found myself with an unexpected front row seat to Houston’s magnificent skyline.
Etched against a canvas of midnight blue, the stately skyscrapers, twinkling in the distance, were breathtaking to behold. Instinctively, I slowed down, mesmerized by the sight.
A few bends in the road later, the sun peeked over the horizon. The skyscrapers, appearing close enough to touch now, turned into giant packages of gold as shafts of yellow sunshine climbed steadily up metal, glass and stone.
It was a spectacular scene—sunrise in the city, you might say—and I felt richer for having witnessed such grandiose grandeur. Perhaps the dreaded commute wouldn’t be so dreadful after all.
As human beings, we tend to resist challenges as a whole. Instead of launching out into the deep, we hover near the shoreline, coddling the familiar and feeling safe.
Perhaps we fear the unknown.
Perhaps we dread the known.
But despite the reasoning behind our limited way of thinking, undoubtedly, beautiful rewards have been forfeited along the way.
When my daughter was five, she wanted a sibling more than anything in the world. Every day she talked about becoming someone’s big sister.
Certainly, I never planned on having an only child. But at 35, I wasn’t thrilled about starting over either. My spouse felt as I did, and so, together, we made the definitive decision that one offspring would be the magic number for us.
It is a decision that I lived to regret. And even today, I wonder what beautiful reward might have ensued had the challenge of another child not been surrendered all those years ago.
Of course, not every challenge in life is optional.
A newborn has Down Syndrome.
A loved one has an incurable disease.
A fire leaves ashes where a home once stood.
Indeed, it is those challenges—the unavoidable, unexpected ones—that we resist so vigorously. We didn’t sign up for such painful disruptions in our lives. We want things as they used to be.
Certainly, such thinking is understandable; no one enjoys pain.
But it’s my belief that, even in the direst of circumstances, when every moment is a struggle to survive, beautiful rewards can be found among the shadows that be. Not tangible rewards, perhaps, but rewards just the same.
Maybe it’s a restoring of the soul, a softening of the heart or a renewed sense of gratitude—for life, health, family and friends.
As James Buckham once said, “Trials, temptations, disappointments—all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fiber of character but strengthen it. Every conquered temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered 'in the right spirit' makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.”
How true those words are, and yet how difficult for us to accept them.
Whenever challenges come our way, instead of dreading them like the plague, we should cast our fears aside, start our engines and embrace the road before us. No, the commute won’t be without pain, but skyscrapers of gold might be over the hill.
Linking to Spiritual Sunday, where faith lifts are free.