One thing is certainly true; no one goes through life intentionally looking for pain. If anything, we actively try our best to avoid all kinds of pain.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible as life has a way of simply “happening”. It’s just one of those things that we don’t have control over. What we do have control over is our reaction to these untimely and often unplanned situations.
How we handle situations define who we are and ultimately who we will become.
This was the case for Aron Ralston, who in 2003 went for a hike in the Canyonlands, South-East Utah. Most of you are familiar with his story from the movie ‘127-Hours’.
While he was climbing down one of the canyons, a boulder became dislodged, crushing and pinning Ralston’s forearm against the canyon wall. For the next 5 and a half days he struggled; and then made a decision many think unthinkable and unbearable.
Unable to free himself from the boulder using a multi-tool pocketknife; he was forced to decide whether he would remain trapped in the canyon wall or sever his forearm so that he may live.
As if things weren’t bad enough already, he would have to do so using a blunt knife as his attempts to previously free himself (using his pocketknife) had left the once sharp blade now dull.
I have to wonder what I would have decided if I had been in his situation.
Would I have waited, hoping someone would come along; or would I have had the courage to amputate something we all take for granted in order to live? I guess I will never know and hopefully I will never have to find out.
While we may never know what our response would have been in Ralston’s situation, we can figure out what our response would be to other “boulders” in our own lives that keep us pinned down. We may not always see the physical evidence of these ‘boulders’, even though it’s often evident to those around us.
If we learned to be more aware of what is happening in our own lives, we would also see the effects it has on our daily lives.
These “boulders” are the hurts, pains and disappointments of life.
Our daily struggles in life and the pain we’re faced with can be seen as unplanned boulders.
Unplanned and untimely these boulders simply appear in our lives. We don’t ask for it and as I’ve already mentioned, no one goes out looking for them. It’s like they simply drop in our lives and leave all sorts of destruction, chaos and confusion around us.
We may be inclined to indulge in the fact that these challenges are simply “not fair” and this should never have happened to us; but the truth is – life isn’t fair and what you get is simply what you get, it’s the hand you’ve been dealt.
And while no one wants these “boulders” in their lives, most of us have a desire to grow and mature; for people to look at us and recognize that we have something to offer that could help them.
The only catch is this: no “boulders” = no growth and maturity. You cannot expect to grow in maturity without first having been tried and tested by the pain, hurts and disappointments in life.
An unwillingness to go through these “tests” and learning to deal with it accordingly, will mean that you will never step into your full potential as a person.
While you may see it as an inconvenience in the moment; perhaps it would be best if we would begin to see it as a tool for our personal growth.
Think about our story / example for a minute. No one would know who Aron Ralston was if it wasn’t for the situation he was forced to face and over come.
While many might say that his situation was literally a ‘do or die, make a decision now’ type of moment and that we couldn’t possibly compare our situations; the truth is that every situation we face needs to have a ‘make a decision’ type of response.
Live life “trapped” by your boulder and die, or make the decision to cut yourself free by dealing with the situation (facing and working through some unwanted pain), learning to let go and live for the future.
It certainly wasn’t easy for Ralston, so don’t count on it being easy for you.
The decision to deal with and work through life’s boulders is what forges great men and woman around us. They become the people others look up to and are called the leaders of the future.
Forging is a painful process, but the reward is priceless.
Think about it this way…
Weapons that have gone through the process of intense heat end up becoming the strongest and most sought after weaponry (not to mention the most expensive). In the same way those who have gone through the toughest life situations, end up finding wisdom and are the ones who are able to pass it on to those who need it.
If your desire is to be someone who can bring about actual change, someone who is taken seriously and counted on in the moment, then you will need a willingness to be forged through life’s trials and pain.
There is no point in shrinking away from things that makes you uncomfortable; from the pain all of us wish would simply disappear.
I am well aware that there may be such pain in your life (which one wouldn’t wish on our greatest enemies) and that you might have been doing your best to try and avoid dealing with it. But avoiding these “boulders” can be seen in the same light as Ralston waiting and hoping someone would come along to save him.
For many of you, that might be a long wait and by the time someone might come along to help, the decay of death would have already spread through out your life – killing off the future you hoped to have had some day.
The longer you leave it, the more damage you allow.
What “boulders” do you have pinning you down, trying to crush away your life’s potential?
The decision to break free and letting go of what you hoped to hold onto, starts with you. Pain isn’t an easy thing to deal with, but it is needed if we are to reach our full potential, grow up and be seen as mature men and women by those around us.
It seems that the only stories that are ever spoken about are the ones of those who faced the greatest challenges and overcame them. Will yours be one of those stories?