Monday, January 2, 2023

Pushing Through to the Other Side

I set out to publish a series of short posts over the holiday break. This is the last day of break, and only my fourth post, so we'll call it a short series.

I first thought about this post when I read this short article from Relevant about how we turn to social media to avoid boredom. The point is that maybe boredom is exactly what we need. After skimming over their referenced study, I could see it was a bigger topic. I didn't get my thoughts on it together before I started seeing the same idea showing up in more places.

In general, this (possible) problem is we avoid some things that annoy or stress us, yet healing and discovery of a true self is really on the other side of that temporary suffering.

I'm going big with this idea after only reading a bit of these source articles I've seen, yet I've found this to be true in own life. (Or more or less, I've found it. I certainly have not mastered the art.) 

Think about this. Much of the noise of our world is driven by a need for someone to sell us something quickly, and one surefire way to do that is to promise fast relief (or even better, pleasure). So we are pummeled with ads and apps to pull us away from annoying things like boredom or (maybe the most frightening) time to reflect on areas of our lives that need improvement. We have endless options for distraction and plenty of messages telling us we're good enough.

Have you seen those social media posts about marriage, where they say lasting marriage is not all glamour and fun, but sometimes holding on through the tough times? (Certainly not all ideas on social media are bad.) That's another example of what I'm getting at.

In general we know this idea of pushing through to succeed is true. We all can think of stories of artists (creators of all kinds) who pushed through hard circumstances--addiction, abuse, poverty, etc., and then they found renewed energy to create. It wasn't in spite of the trial, it was because of the trial. 

But obviously you have to move past those things, right? You're trapped until you get through.

But when it comes to something like daily boredom, a dull marriage, or maybe a sense that you should be more productive or something, we don't want to face it. We grab a quick fix from the outside. We look to move back or around it.

So many questions abound. Maybe true success is on the other side of trial, and we often don't get there because so many of the messages we hear tell us to just avoid the trials. But should we always push through pain? Probably not, but then when should we and when shouldn't we? How does one (as teachers to) lead others to answer these questions...and live the answers?

These are deeply personal questions. We'll answer them alone, or maybe with a few who are close to us. Certainly with God, if we're people of faith.

One thing I know is that if the message is true, only those who lived through it can sell it.

And if we do push through and find something better, well, that would be a story worth sharing. 

The moral of the story won't always be a popular one. Some won't want to hear it. Some will think it's dangerous. 

There will always be more resistance to push through.