The most difficult challenges we face can also provide us with the greatest opportunity to see ourselves more clearly, develop our character, and polish our souls. How can we see the blockages in our lives as a gift and a calling to create a more interesting and beautiful life?
During a recent trip to the California desert, I took a hike in Tahquitz Canyon with my husband, Scott. The trail forms a loop that gains 350 feet of altitude while meandering between the shadows of a cliff wall and the exposed boulder-strewn hills. The loop is divided by a creek that issues forth from a 60 foot waterfall whose source is snow melting from the higher elevations.
The boulders that are “sprinkled” around the canyon are so large that it creates curiosity and piques the imagination. What could it possibly have been like to witness an event that could scatter such heavy objects so widely.
While ascending along the trail, a particular boulder caught my eye. It had landed squarely in the middle of the stream. It no doubt filled the original stream bed, and would have prohibited any flow of water at that time. However, over time, the water was able to etch out a new path, allowing it to continue its journey to the desert.
My first reaction was that it was a pity the boulder landed there, altering the flow of the stream, and creating such a blockage. As my curiosity turned inward to determine the source of such a response, I realized how natural it is to seek the orderly, and easy, flow of life. To expect that things should be the way they are “supposed” to be, and that any interference or alteration to that original “plan” is a negative intrusion.
As I continued to contemplate the boulder’s placement in the stream, I began to see the environment that it had created. Where the water had to flow around the rock, it had formed a small niche that was now filled with a slightly different type of flora. It had created an environment that was unique to the particular space, and was much more interesting than much of the stream bank that had been carved in straighter lines. When the water reached the rock, it flowed faster and gained energy, similar, I imagine, to the technology used on airplane wings to make the air flow faster across the surface, creating better lift.
So this apparent obstacle had actually created a unique and fertile environment, along with enhanced movement forward.
I see this everyday in my therapy practice. The obstacles that seem to be blocking the flow of a person’s life can be utilized to create character and momentum. In fact, the very challenges that we face are exactly what will allow us to see ourselves more clearly, develop our character, and polish our souls.
What are your boulders in the stream? What blocks and challenges are you facing right now that could be etching and polishing your unique character and personality? What force or event was the source of this “boulder”? How have your past struggles served to teach you valuable lessons and show you your strengths? And in what ways do you imagine you will grow and become more creative as you journey through the obstacles presented in your life now?