Have you ever had that one item on your to-do list, your agenda, or whatever that just never seems to get done? You know, that one thing you have marked out that just seems to carry over from one day to the next day to the next day…
And then you realize it’s been a week. A month. A year, even. And it’s still not done.
I have for sure been there. And I’m willing to guess that you have been too. Generally the reason we have stuff like that that just remains unfinished isn’t because we don’t know what to do about it or even what needs done. Generally, the reason that troublesome to-do doesn’t get handled is more because I, frankly, just don’t want to do it.
Why we don’t want to do it can be the case for a number of reasons. It might require a lot of phone calls, or surfing for answers on the internet. It might involve you asking someone for help, approval, or something else that you really would rather not have to talk to ever again. Or maybe, you just don’t want to do it because you know the massive effort it will require. And you just don’t feel like putting that effort in.
I’ve been there. I know. And generally, the issue finally gets resolved because I finally just suck it up and do whatever needs to be finished to make things happen.
And while it might sound dumb or corny, I’m discovering a very similar spiritual principle in my own life that is stretching me and pushing me to be the best follower of Christ that I can be. I call it the “Do Tough Stuff” principle.
It’s basically what it sounds like. I need to do the things in my life that are spiritually difficult (but need to be done, nevertheless). And in doing so, I’m going to grow. As shameful as it is, here’s the fact (and please don’t judge me for saying this): about 90% of the time in my life, I don’t feel like I’m really displaying my Christianity. And by that, I mean that I’m not embodying or practicing behaviors that would obviously label me as a Christian.
In Matthew 5:46-47, Jesus is delivering his famous sermon on the mount and he is teaching in this particular section of the message about loving your enemies. In the course of doing so, Jesus notes that it’s not very special if you just love people who love you. In fact, that’s not special at all. Even the most pagan of people do that. What really demonstrates a person’s desire to follow Christ is when they actively love a person who would otherwise be classified as their “enemy” by either practicing kindness toward them, praying for them, or seeking to bless their life in some way.
By nature, I feel like I’m a pretty kind and loving person. But as I really sit back and look at my life, how much of that is actually spent on people who have no real intention of ever loving me back? If I’m really honest with myself, that answer is probably really close to 0%. And that’s sad. Because if I’m not loving tough to love people as Jesus commanded, I don’t know that I’m really doing a very good job at following Christ at all. I’m just doing what comes naturally. And quite honestly, those are two very different things.
So I don’t know what that “do tough stuff” thing(s) is for you right now. It could be seeking reconciliation with a friend or family member. It could be having a loving, but tough, conversation with your spouse. It could be ending a relationship, choosing to stop a behavior you feel addicted to, or just having the courage to honestly evaluate your spiritual life and not just act like everything’s okay.
I don’t know what that tough thing is for you. But I guarantee you that nothing will grow and stretch you more in your relationship with Jesus than just stepping up and doing it.