I was in my early teens when my father handed me a page from WORLD Magazine about The Rebelution.
My sister and I jumped on board, eager to make good use of our teen years. Eight years later, as I live in Japan with my husband and one-year-old, I’m thankful for how doing hard things as an adolescent prepared me for being faithful with what God has for me as an adult.
1. The hardest things are the little ones.
Doing hard things as a teen taught me that the hardest things aren’t the “big” hard things like publishing a book or running a business, but the everyday, mundane tasks that require perseverance and discipline:
Doing your chores. Finishing your homework. Loving your siblings.
These are the things that are rarely applauded, yet they are often what God has commanded us to do and what bears the most fruit.
Although they may sometimes overlap, what matters in eternity is not what we accomplished, but whether or not we were faithful with what God entrusted us (Matthew 25:14-30).
2. The little things are what prepare you for the big things.
I found that being diligent with the “little” hard things is what prepares you for the “big” hard things.
It’s easy to avoid our everyday mundane tasks while thinking that if it were something big we would fulfill every duty without a second thought.
But Luke 16:10 says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
While our motivation may be greater when we are tackling something big, a change of task does not change whether we are faithful or dishonest.
For example, a missionary friend once wrote a poem explaining how crossing a body of salt water to take part in missions work did not make her Bible more readable or her children less irritating.
The everyday things in life also give us the skills we need for the big things.
Helping my father plan family vacations and learning how to organize my time in high school prepared me to execute a complicated international move, including many unclear answers, 35 hours of driving, 12 hours of flying, and a 16 hour time change, mostly on my own, with a baby in tow.
Likewise, daily discipline in music practice made it possible for me to play with higher-caliber orchestras and gave me both skills and character that have helped with “big” things like marriage and parenting.
3. There will always be hard things.
Finally, fighting low expectations showed me that life isn’t about ease and doing what I want, but that there will always be difficult things when we are striving to be faithful to the word of God and to His calling on our lives.
This is clear as I still fall short every day, and even clearer when I realized that the hard things that trouble me today are mostly the things that I didn’t “master” then: wasting time on social media.
Reaching out to people – whether sharing the gospel or encouraging fellow believers. Prioritizing my quiet time.
When our daughter was a few months old, I was frustrated because people would tell me “it gets easier after (6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months),” and I was tired of it not getting easier.
I watched mothers of older children go through difficulties with their teens and realized that it doesn’t necessarily get easier, just different.
When we are striving for holiness, it will be hard. We won’t always have the same struggles as seasons of life change and we are sanctified, but there will always be hard things.
We are not alone: we have the help of our families, communities, and for the Christian, of the church and the Holy Spirit.
Even more encouraging than that is the great truth that our salvation doesn’t depend on what we do, but in the work of Christ!
Because of His victory over sin and death, Paul tells us to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”