It Shouldn’t Be This Hard (Or Should It?)

Yesterday was a hard day. It wouldn’t really help for me to explain why, especially because, by the time you read this “yesterday” won’t be the day I was talking about anyway.

hard
Photo Credit: Oleh Slobodeniuk, Creative Commons

But it was one of those days, and you know the ones I’m talking about—the sleep-past-your-alarm, realize-your-favorite-shirt-is-in-the-wash, spill-toothpaste-on-your-other-shirt, change-three-times, late-to-your meeting, spill-your-coffee, lock-your-keys-in-your-car kind of day.

Everything was harder than it needed to be.

Well, harder than I thought it should be, in all my glory.

And all day I couldn’t get this mantra off my mind: It shouldn’t be this hard.

I don’t know where I picked up this little gem, but I was sure carrying it around like it was my baby. It shouldn’t be this hard to order a cup of coffee. It shouldn’t be this hard to get through airport security. It shouldn’t be this hard to find an outlet where I can plug in my computer. It shouldn’t be this hard to get a customer service representative to help me!

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS bleeping HARD!

And of course, since I was having such a stellar day, I figured I would call my husband.

Because what husband doesn’t want to hear from his wife when’s she has totally lost sight of all reality? Duh. So I picked up the phone and dialed, ready to unload my burden and fully counting on him to fix everything. Except, as chance would have it, he wasn’t having a stellar day, either.

Within the first two minutes of our conversation I could tell he didn’t really want to talk to me (I mean… I can’t imagine why).

He was busy at work, he said calmly, and he didn’t have time to fix this for me. I would be fine, he told me, and gave me a few pieces of advice. We hung up the phone, and I was already seething to myself. Should it really be this hard to communicate? To get some help?

Now that I’ve calmed down, my “it shouldn’t be this hard” rant has me thinking.

Maybe it should be this hard.

Maybe everything in life worth doing is hard. Maybe sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be but, for the most part, even the simple things in life have their way of being complicated. Maybe a simple life isn’t the kind of life we want anyway. Is that possible?

And as I think back now, it makes me realize that hard days are the days which really  help me understand my character.

The impatience, the silent seething, the raising my voice to get my way—I’d like to think I was better than all of that (“Sorry, I was just having a bad day”), but the truth is I’m not. The truth is it wasn’t a bad day that brought it out of me. It was there all along.

And without bad days, I might never know it was there, and might never have a chance to overcome it.

So here’s to bad days—in case you’ve ever had one; in case you’re having one now.

Maybe it isn’t “supposed to be” this hard, but maybe it is. Maybe life is hard, and maybe that’s okay. Maybe “hard” is what’s fashioning us into the people we’ve always wanted to be.

17 comments on “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard (Or Should It?)

  1. “Hard” is what our definition is.
    God Never said life would be easy, HE just promised it would be worth it. Maybe next time its HARD, think of the other person you think is making your day hard, about WHAT is making THEIR day Hard, just maybe YOU. #PRAYERS.

  2. I was thinking this morning, tired because the new puppy (that I didn’t want) kept me up most of the night, what a complainer I am. So thanks for this.

  3. This post reminds me of Scott Peck’s claim in the Road Less travelled that “Life is difficult” and only when we truly accept that life is difficult will it no longer matter. He also suggested that our strong tendency to try to avoid the problems of our difficult life and the pain associated with those problems is the basis of most neurotic behavior, he quoted Carl Jung who said, “neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.” Those thoughts resonated as true when I read them in 1985 and still do today when I reflect on my life or the lives of those courageous enough to tell me about their problems as they walk through them. I continue to admire your courage in facing the inevitable problems of life in truth and grace and your willingness to share that journey through your writing and speaking. It’s a great pleasure to watch you use your gifts so fully!

  4. This reminds me of that movie, “About Time.” I won’t give away all the details, but basically one of the characters realizes that each day has it’s own difficulties. He would complain through the day and carry bitterness; until he realized that his time on earth was coming to an end. Then, he would re-live those hard days and see them from a new light (knowing what pain and difficulties to expect)…he realized that each challenge was not nearly so bad when tackled with a better attitude.

    To me, it is all about learning contentment, no matter what the situation.

  5. I have polio on the left leg and people with disabilities are often pitied, neglected and its always a hard day doing normal stuffs. But I find the will to go on bec. Of My faith and i see God in the beautiful people around me who are extra ordinary. I can relate that sometimes i see the hardships as a way to be extra-ordinary to be better , to give moments more meaning and grounded person of character. Not a better one above anyone but just to be a good man. I love ur writings. Keep it up. Ur inspiring people to do what they dream of.

  6. I had a “hard” day yesterday too and I started to wonder why the heck God often waits till the last second to come through. My husband and I are trying to find a new place to rent, and yesterday I reached the hopeless end of my rope and let myself wallow in fear and despair that we’d never find a place. Well, I stayed up late reading your book and I highlighted this: “…all of life is challenging when we choose to engage it. If we want to be truly alive, truly awake to the reality of the world around us, packing light will be a continued, daily struggle.” Thanks for your awesome insights!

  7. Thank you, I really needed this message. Yesterday was that day for me. The part where you talk about our character shining through in these moments really hit home. I would like to think that I am not an immature, anxious ridden, and ready to throw in the towel when things don’t work out like it should person, but I am. For me alot of times it is in the form of the words “its not fair”…and I will even blame God for it. Indeed my ‘character’ comes to the fore front. Thank you for your eye opening message.

  8. Whenever I’m having a “hard” day I think about someone living with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. They can’t eat, walk, scratch their nose or do anything for themselves because they are trapped inside their body. Now, living with ALS is hard. And, then my problems seem way too trivial to compare. That puts it in perspective for me.

  9. Oh man, this has been my life for the past 2 weeks. “Just slammed my car door on my shin”; “Oh you want to pull out in front of me so I have to slam on my brakes? Cool.”; “Oh this other car wants to do this to me too?? Even better”; “Why do the customers keep complaining to me today, I can’t do anything about it?”; “Your grandmother has cancer again.”; “I’m going to need you to finish this project a week earlier than I originally thought.” Blah Blah.

    I have to continually remind myself this stuff is just a part of life. I’m not better than anyone or entitled to have a perfect day everyday. I too have realized some things about myself that have caused me to question the way I perceive myself and if I have been wrong this whole time. The way I’ve reacted to even the smallest things has been less than stellar. Revealing my impatience, quick-temperedness, unkindness, and complaining-spirit. Thank you for this article , it’s been a great reminder to push through and get over myself! Haha I’m going to make it a goal to look for the positive in the negative. I definitely need my character to be molded!

  10. Thanks so much for posting this. I was having all sorts of problems yesterday morning trying to upload my podcast to my blog, screaming and nearly pulling my hair out because things were so hard. This is exactly what I was thinking – “this shouldn’t be so hard!” Reading your post helped put things in perspective and challenged me to take a look at the way I had been acting lately. Keep up the awesome work.

  11. “The truth is it wasn’t a bad day that brought it out of me. It was there all along.” AAAck. Painful. Too close to home! I had a day like this one yesterday after this stellar, floating 3 feet above the ground, all-is-right-with-the-world kind of Tuesday. Middle schooler yelling at me from the second she was alert, cat pushed over the flower vase (from the flowers I got on said awesome Tuesday), destroyed my favorite journal and soaked my bill pile. As I was stooped to wipe the floor, my yelling daughter came in and startled me, and as I looked up at her, I slammed my head against the tile countertop above. Dude. It shouldn’t be this hard. Except, as you point out, that we make it so much harder by all the crap that is inside us when storms strike! Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  12. My Utmost for His Highest…July 7
    Enter by the narrow gate . . . . Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life . . . —Matthew 7:13-14

    If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in—it stirs us up to overcome.

  13. It is hard! And what makes me buck it, it’s because in the moment it feels like all of life is hard, frustrating and is going to freeze in time and never return to feeling like a day at the beach. But of course, it does change, for me. But my friend with cancer, probably not. My friend with a brain tumor, no. God forgive me.

  14. BTW, excellent insight here on how God’s grace allows us to see ourselves and not be deceived by our wicked heart. Thank you .

  15. Thanks for nailing my self pitying, whining, immature, self centred, ugly, childish nature to the cross…again. Why is so hard to accept that unless Christ takes residence, becomes truly all, that I totally cannot even see the glory I was made for, let alone EXPERIENCE it?

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