According to Dictionary.com, a Difficulty is: -noun, plural -ties.
1. the fact or condition of being difficult.
2. Often, difficul·ties. an embarrassing situation, esp. of financial affairs.
3. a trouble or struggle.
4. a cause of trouble, struggle, or embarrassment.
5. a disagreement or dispute.
6. reluctance; unwillingness.
7. a demur; objection.
8. something that is hard to do, understand, or surmount; an impediment or obstacle.
Most of us could come up with a few more adjectives, the “colorfulness” of each depending upon the difficulty at hand.
After all, difficulties are annoying, problematic, stressful, painful, headache causing nightmares. They’re completely bad and we’d be infinitely better off without them, right?
Well, not exactly. Actually, not even close.
Think about this: When an athlete shows up for baseball camp, hoping with every fiber of his being to make the team, he spends painfully long hours in the weight room. He eats vegetables, fish, chicken, and salads even when the brownies, fries, and potato chips are screaming his name.
The training isn’t easy, in fact it’s downright “difficult” but the rewards (strength, fitness, improved health, fulfilling a dream, and a high paying job) are more than worth it.
The temporary difficulties aren’t weakening him or taking power away from him. On the contrary, they’re strengthening him and giving him more power than he had before they rolled all over him. He’ll be much stronger than he would have been if he’d never been tested and trained.
The same can be said for those of us who are decidedly non-athletes. When we’re staring squarely in the eyes of a particular difficulty – whether it’s an illness, finances, relationship problems, trouble at work, or a vehicle that has decided it doesn’t want to be in the transportation business any longer – we’re tapping into an inner strength that would otherwise be dormant. Frankly we never know what we’re capable of until we’re tried, tested, and trained.
Think of problems and things that “just don’t go the way we want them to” as mental workouts. We read and talk a great deal about mental fitness these days – we all know how vital it is to keep our minds active as much as possible. So maybe, just maybe, our difficulties are actually blessings in disguise.
Maybe we should start thanking our difficulties when the jump out at us. Even when several spring out at once (hate that). I guess when a team of them jumps us at once, we’re getting a Herculean workout!
J.C. Penney said: “I am grateful for all my problems. After each one was overcome, I became stronger and more able to meet those that were still to come. I grew in all my difficulties.”