Most of us know that pearls are formed when a grain of sand gets inside the shell of an oyster and becomes an irritation. In its effort to ease the irritation, the oyster begins to secrete a liquid that coats the grain of sand and over a period of time, this process eventually leads to the creation of a pearl. But it all begins with an irritation.
When was the last time you faced an irritation? I think I would be safe in saying that it probably was not too long ago. Maybe it was a traffic jam, an annoying co-worker, a family member or a long line at the checkout counter. Regardless of the cause, there is no getting around irritating circumstances. And, if you try to run from the irritations in your life, you will end up having two more just like them.
The purpose of irritations in our life is to develop our character. I am not talking about abuse or injustices that are criminal in nature. I am talking about the normal everyday irritations of life that most of us want to avoid. If we learn to deal with the irritations, it will build character and resilience in us to help us be the very person we want to become. However, persistence is needed in this process and there may be situations in which you must put forth supreme effort. But, in the end, the pressure and resistance that comes upon you will result in you being a better person.
If the things that irritate you today are the same things that irritated you five or ten years ago, then it is evident that there has been no growth in that area of your life. And, it is a fact that if you try to avoid them, you will not have the stamina and ability to conquer other mountains you will face in your life. When you face an irritating person or situation in your life, tell yourself, “This is a test. This irritation was sent my way to help me grow to be a better person.” Avoidance will only stunt your own growth.
I remember sharing this in a psychology class I was teaching years ago. I mentioned to the students that if you could not accept your brothers and sisters and learn to deal with them, you would end up marrying someone just like them. I had a girl in my class named Ellen, who told me that was the greatest motivation she had ever had in her life to get along with her brother, Fred. She said that he irritated the life out of her and she couldn’t wait to get away from him. But, when she recognized the fact that there would be more people like Fred in her life, she learned to accept him and work with him.
That’s what I’m talking about – dealing with your irritations rather than running from them. If you can’t learn how to deal with the situation that you currently have, how can you learn to deal with situations that have not yet occurred? It’s a lot like happiness. Someone once rightly said, “If you can’t learn to be happy where you are, you will never be happy where you’re not!” Your circumstances should not dictate your personal happiness; you should learn to be happy in spite of your circumstances.
Whatever the situation is in your life, it was not sent to destroy you or to hurt you, but to help you. It was designed to refine you and make your life better. I know this is not something that we like to hear. We want everything in our life to be smooth and easy, but regardless of who we are, we need to recognize that challenges and problems are designed to push us forward, not to hold us back.
I once heard a story about how cod fish are shipped. Originally, they were caught and then frozen before shipping. However, it was discovered that when they were thawed out and cooked, they did not taste good. Later it was decided that the cod would be shipped in water containers while still alive and then processed once they arrived at market. Apparently that didn’t work well either because the fish got very lethargic in transit, which caused their taste to be affected as well. Then, someone came up with the idea of sending catfish in the containers with the cod. The catfish is its natural enemy so that kept the cod fish agitated and active until it got to market. Although the freezing method didn’t work and shipping the fish live didn’t work, adding a catfish to the mix caused the situation to work just fine because it was the irritation the cod needed to keep it alert and active in transit. That resulted in a fresher taste for the consumer.
Now that might not be the greatest illustration in the world if you are a cod fish, but it does press the point that irritations and challenges keep us alert and on our toes. We will do better with whatever we are doing if we can deal with the challenges that come our way on a daily basis. Challenges in the weight room only serve to make you stronger!
If you have a situation that is currently stressing you out, let me encourage you not to run from it, but to walk into it. Like the oyster, find out what you can do to make the situation better. Consider each irritating situation as a test and if you pass the test, you will move to the next level and be able to deal with bigger and better things.
This principle is one of the truest principles I have ever learned in my life. I have found that living by commitment, rather than by convenience may be harder, but it certainly is a better way to do life. I trust that the next time you face a challenge, rather than running from it, you will look at it as an opportunity to make you a better person so you can move to the next stage of life and achieve the level of success you so richly deserve.
Tip: Pearls are valuable for a reason!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm