Saturday, October 23, 2010

Challenges Can Render Rich Rewards

After months of searching for employment without any prospects, the job downtown was a gift from above. My only concern was the long commute. I had enough challenges in my life without rush hour traffic, and I dreaded it like the plague.

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.

But accept them we should.

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.


  1. Wonderful perspective, Gayle ...I love how you've captured the morning's spectacle!

    (Funny, I've an upcoming? post -- still in the ugly-duckling stage -- regarding my own commute!)

  2. Beautifully writen, Dayle, with such an optimistic outlook. Love that Buckingham quote.

  3. Beautiful skyline, beautiful words, great lesson! Thank you!

  4. Hey Gayle, I was blog jumping and came over from "Writing from the Heart." Enjoyed your photo and comments. We vacationed in Houston this summer tacking on a visit to Rice University. I have a senior with high aspirations of attending there. We loved the city, spent the weekend in a hotel downtown. The food was fabulous too, so we hope we get get four years to explore the city more.

  5. Such a nice post. God bless you in your new job. I know it can be stressful at first learning to navigate traffic and learn "the ropes."
    I, too, have a long commute. For four years, I have been riding the bus every day although I now drive one or two days a week. God always reveals things to me during that time. Sometimes it is a thought, sometimes a feeling. Christian radio really blesses me, as does my prayer time when I ride the bus. May you enjoy that time,too and stay safe :)

  6. Gayle, this is a beautifully written post. I love this line - "but skyscrapers of gold might be over the hill".


  7. HI Gayle...this really spoke to me. I get really weird with any new change even good ones. Acceptance is something I've really had to work on instead of resisting so much. It helps knowing He's running with me. I really loved how you wrote this and I'm really glad you're begining to experience the good things of this change. He's got way more good stuff ahead for you.... ☺

  8. What an encouraging post! Thanks:)

  9. Every circumstance can make us better, if we allow it to. Amen.

  10. This would be a beautiful site to see daily. The only regret that I have in life is that I only had one child. It brings tears to my eyes sometimes when I start thinking to deeply on the matter.I was blessed with a step son whom I love dearly and the Lord as also blessed me with 3 grandchildren. Thank-you for this post today.
    God Bless,

  11. This was such a good post with a such a true message. As hard as it can be, our trials and tribulations REALLY do bring about His best. I learned thst first hand this year when I got diagnosed with breast cancer. NEVER EVER would it have been something I chose. But the peace He brought to my heart through the journey was something I could have never done without, and truly did bring me into such a deeper, more dependent and personal place with Him and how grateful I am. Thanks for all this, how it blessed me this morning. Have a wonderful day, BLESSINGS, Debbie

  12. As always, your words touch my very spirit. Thank you for opening yourself, vulnerably, for all of us to see, and to grow! He is using you to great things! (Congrats on the new job, dear one!)
    Hugs & love ~ Merana

  13. Great writing. Powerful post. Great message. I needed this. Thank you.

  14. What a beautiful post. I love it when we find unexpected beauty in unexpected places. I'm glad you shared this experience with us. Being an only child I can sympathize with your daughter. For years I begged my mother to have another baby but as I look back on it, I understand that the circumstances were not right for it. I still wish I had a sister or a brother though.

  15. Such a lovely post. We all benefit so much from Spiritual Sunday's. Have a blessed week.

  16. This is one of the your most beautiful posts! I mean this sincerely when I say that it was inspired. It's like God illustrated the skyline first and then sat down at the keyboard. I really needed to hear your words on this. In fact, I am saving this to a file of favorite reads for when it needs to be pulled out and reread.

    I'm a coward. I fear change and challenge. This really spoke to me. (And I, too, regret not having more children.)

  17. Fear imprisons me daily-- fear of making a wrong decision so I make no decision. Thanks for sharing.