Believe it or not, I actually do get excited about laundry day. I like cleaning and organization as they bring order back to my frenetic and disorganized life. However, my room consistently looks like a disaster. While I like beginning laundry and throwing all my dirty clothes into the washing machine, transferring them to the dryer and pulling my clean and warm clothes out of the dryer, I despise folding them. It’s not that I have some traumatic childhood association with folding clothes or that I’m bad at folding clothes, it’s just significantly more effort and time consuming than the previous steps in the process. I get bogged down at this phase and so I let my clean clothes sit in a hamper until I sort through looking for a specific article of clothing that may or may not be in the massive pile.
This may seem like a mundane idiosyncrasy, but I think it’s far more telling about a greater issue in my life than just the laundry and the fact that I’m a bachelor not far removed from college. Making decisions to start in a direction, like starting the laundry, feel great and are typically exciting, but what happens when that euphoria is over and we’re no longer having fun?
It is far easier to decide on a direction than it is to continue pressing on in that direction, but it is the pressing on that proves character. It’s exciting to decide to follow your dreams. In the beginning, you can readily see distance being created from whatever it is you’re leaving behind and the destination is right there on the horizon. At some point, you reach the stage where your destination is merely looming on the horizon, but it’s no longer seeming any closer and your place of origin is no longer seeming any further. It is now that character is tested. It is at this stage that dreams are given up or lived; people are made and broken.
Follow through is something that I find hardest in this life. Right when I am bored with my current adventure, something else is there to catch my eye. It’s been a long and arduous journey and I’m getting nowhere, so I jump ship at the first sight of something more interesting. However, that journey sure enough returns me to the same point and I am left frustrated and unfulfilled. I have done nothing more than spin my wheels and waste what could have been a great story on a lesser one.
The middle of each story is typically characterized by suffering, but suffering leads to perseverance that produces character which fortifies our hope. (Romans 5:3-4) This is the point where we, the protagonist, are facing a challenge and see no possible way we can succeed because the challenge is simply too great. We have to stick with it, not because of the destination, but because of the growth we will inevitably incur in the journey. The destination is merely icing on the cake.
While my example in the outset of this post was trivial, it is not just the growth that keeps us going, but it must also be the fact that we have something, if not everything, of value on the line. This is where my effort falters. I have put little on the line. Whether you are risking your reputation, faith or your very identity, you keep on because you simply do not have another choice. The more we have at stake, though, the greater the opportunity we allow for our individual growth. (Matthew 16:25)
Only when we are willing to give up everything do we allow ourselves the blessed chance to gain eternally more. The only stipulation is that once we have given these things up, we cannot decide when things get tough that we want to run back to them. Let go. He’s still holding on, and tightly.