How to Not Fear the Hard
Beginnings are hard. Sometimes the middle is too. And endings….man, endings are the worst. The end of the Christmas season, birthdays, vacation, summer, family visits, the last piece of pie, unforgettable concerts, death… endings are the worst.
Except that endings always bring new beginnings, and so the cycle of life continues.
Beginning the minimalism journey can be hard. You may be experiencing it now or remember what it was like when you first started. We all have our own fears when we decide our life is more valuable than the things we’ve accumulated over the years, because –
What if it’s not? What if what really matters IS what I own and how I impress others with it? What if I let it all go and all that is left is…me, unloved and unseen?
(The best news is that if we don’t let those fears keep us from trying, we quickly learn how much our stuff and mindset about our stuff stifled the true self and we discover a beautiful life underneath it all.)
Or perhaps we are afraid of hard.
I think a lot of people resist simplifying because they know it’s going to get hard. No one likes to do hard when comfortable is as easy as doing nothing. This contributes to the charitable donations to gyms by the time the calendar turns to April. It’s why we are stubborn about going to therapy. And it’s why storage unit buildings are popping up on every empty lot in town.
People have too much stuff and a fear of hard.
The thing is – hard is a part of our daily lives. We deal with everyday kind of difficulties regularly and we survive to do it again tomorrow. Difficult co-workers or bosses, traffic, in-laws, newborns and middle of the night feedings, graduate school, budgets, raising teenagers, chronic pain or cancer – there are tons of ways that we deal with hard all the time.
Maybe that’s the ‘hard’ in your minimalism. You feel like you’re striving enough that choosing to do hard (removing the excess and exposing the heart underneath) is unthinkable. I want to remind you of one thing:
You can do hard. Hard hasn’t broken you yet. And if it has, there’s always restoration of the soul available. You can do hard.
How do we not fear hard? We remember.
When my kids are <this close> to sending me to an asylum, I remember the hard of infertility.
When therapy sessions require more vulnerability than I’d like, I remember the hard of losing myself.
When deciding which items spark more joy than others and it requires too much of me, I remember to listen to my soul; to center my focus on purpose rather than possession.
And we need to remember that growth comes from the hard. If you’re not being challenged, you’re not growing. If you are comfortable, you are stagnant. If you are seeking a simple life, you are accepting the challenge to remove the distractions and inconsequential in exchange for the challenge of real and purposeful transformation.
Remember and be encouraged.
Here are a few things you can do to help you remember what you’ve been through:
A regular journal practice is a helpful way to process the difficult things of our lives. We have the ability to go back through it and remember what we went through, how we felt, and how we overcame it. It’s also a cathartic practice to reduce stress by externalizing what’s going on internally.
Community and Accountability
Sharing our lives with others, our struggles and victories, has countless benefits. The relationships we build are a great tool to remember how we’ve been through hard before. Our friends and family who know us best can speak back to us our own history when we’ve forgotten.
True community will remind us where we’ve been and keep walking with us through each hard season.
It’s not very innovative, but a 3×5 card taped to the bathroom mirror is a simple as it gets when it comes to reminders. Write down your wins, your progress, your why’s, or whatever it is that will remind you that you can do hard.
Place it right in the middle of the mirror so you can’t not look at it. So that you have to read it before you can check for food in your teeth.
There are times in my life where it seems there is no solution. The hard is too hard. I’ve learned that the more I invite Jesus into the problem, the Spirit will remind me of where I’ve been and how I’ve been rescued over and over.
If you pray, try praying for reminders of how God has walked you through hard places and never forsaken you. Chapters 6-8 of Deuteronomy are wonderful reminders of how God delivers his people.
“You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?’ But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out.” Deuteronomy 7:17-19
There are many symbols in our daily lives that are useful. Wedding rings, cross jewelry, logos, crosswalk signals, etc. Hopefully you don’t need a ring to remind you you’re married but perhaps it reminds you in times of struggle of the vows you made. Or when you feel that God isn’t coming near as you cry out to him, you glance in the mirror and remember the cross hanging around your neck isn’t just pretty charm, but a promise.
Choose a symbol to you carry with you as a reminder. A picture on the home screen of your phone, a string around your finger, or a coin in your pocket; it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it helps you remember that hard is not impossible.
Hard is the path to becoming who we are meant to be. Remember.