Monday, October 25, 2010

STRENGTH FROM STRUGGLES

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger



Last spring I must have dropped a cucumber seed in the graveled drive on my way to plant our garden, because a tiny plant made its appearance among the rocks around the same time as my cucumbers sprouted in their rows of rich dirt.

All summer long I passed the little plant thinking it would die. We didn’t water it. Actually, we rode our 4- wheelers over it to and from the garden. Neal even drove his tractor over it several times!  We totally ignored it and yet it survived. It even survived the August drought for heaven’s sake!

My  pampered cucumber vines in the garden did awful. Spoiled little things. Most were bitter and didn’t produce much fruit at all. We may have gotten a dozen pints of pickles from them. Hardly worth the trouble.

The little plant in the road didn’t do much either, that is until last week. I passed it and to my surprise it offered a respectable sized cucumber. I picked it and took it to the house. I didn’t have a lot of hope for its taste, but I sliced it up and took a bite. To my amazement, it had a crisp texture and sweet flavor. This brave plant actually has another miniscule cuke in the making. Take a close look at the photo above. 

This cucumber plant has been Neal’s and my discussion during our evenings on the porch. We looked back over our lives and remembered the “fruit” that came from our struggles. At the time it didn’t seem that anything good could come from our hardships and I can’t say that either of us was particularly gracious in some of our struggles. But I can say that we didn’t give up and now we are stronger and wiser.

I read this once, “Nothing that comes your way can harm you, only your response to it.” For the majority of things in our lives, I believe this is very true.

Struggle requires something from us that is beyond us. It requires faith, determination, vision, and action. If we roll on our backs—like my grandpuppy, Kricket, does when troubles come— we will grow weak in our soul and our lives will show it. Just like my pampered cucumbers, we may put on a lot of showy leaves, but have no fruit. Or what little fruit we do have may be bitter.

Don’t resent the struggles you are having now. Respond to them. Change the way you think about them and make them work for you. Exercise the “soul muscle” of faith, determination, vision, and action.

In doing this, you will be strong.

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