My oldest son left for boot camp yesterday. He made the decision to join the Navy several months ago, and now he’s left for his next big adventure. I’m pretty sure no one looks forward to boot camp, but he’s a little older than the average recruit, having graduated from college and lived on his own already for a few years. He’s worked hard to get himself into shape for the specialized job he wants to do for the Navy, and he’s ready to get to it. He’s ready for the challenge.
Over the years, my perspective on facing life’s challenges has shifted somewhat. No one likes to be uncomfortable. Certainly, no one would choose to experience real pain. But difficult experiences are part of life. If we didn’t have to face them, we’d never realize our own strength or capability.
I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro a few years ago for my birthday. It was hard - not Everest hard, but difficult enough that I considered whether or not summit day presented the same level of physical discomfort as childbirth. So, you know, it hurt. When my friends and I finished the climb, though, we knew we’d done something most people will never do.
If we’ve never survived that broken heart in high school, we’ll never understand that broken hearts heal. If we’ve never pushed through the last mile of the race, we’ll never know the satisfaction of the finish line. If we’ve never reached the summit, we’ll never see the view from above the clouds.
When I am in the midst of discomfort, whether the challenge is physical or mental, I can call up any number of moments in my life where I’m standing on the other side of that discomfort. I can remember the feeling of accomplishment, relief, or maybe even healing, and trust that I’ll find my way there again.