Character Shapes Destiny
by Terri Bonin
We have been sold a lie…A big WHOPPER of a lie…that WHOPPER is that when we have it together, our lives will hit cruise control and conflict will be a fleeting memory.
We dream of being free from conflict, but it is the struggle that actually builds character.
As a parent, the struggle to consistently train kids grows both parent and child.
It is a beautiful design by the Creator.
The tendency to look forward to the next stage and neglect training opportunities stumps character growth. For instance:
“When my toddler outgrows this stage, then he’ll be such a pleasant child…” But if the mom neglects the painful, inconvenient training opportunities, the toddler’s stage grows into the toddler’s poor character and the dream becomes…
“When my difficult teen grows up, moves out, and gets a job, he’ll appreciate everything I’ve ever done, and then he’ll mature…”
But the undisciplined young adult possesses a poor work ethic and shoddy character, which keeps him jobless, living at home, and in need of financial support … nothing matures him.
Avoiding growth opportunities while they are young ruins lives.
Trying to break free from conflict cheats the character of a person. Conflict will always be present in our lives. Conflict, and what we do with it shapes us.
Peek into a laborious character-building scene with my 6th child…at the piano…
I sit at the piano and listen to a young son trip over the keys. This new song is unfamiliar, uncomfortable to his hands…awkward to his ears.
His confidence plummets. His focus wavers…head drops.
Like all of us, he wants to soar…but the pain of rising is sometimes enough to keep him on the ground.
The wrong notes tell him he can’t do it. His tripping fingers mock him.
“Look up, son. You can do this!!” I remember my mom’s sweet encouragement in the same seat I sit in now. I remember the frustration and discouragement in my son’s place when I occupied it as a child.
And the memory holds me there… to encourage him TO STAY.
He slides down his chair, “It’s SO HARD!! I don’t think I can!”
Do I tell him to embrace this feeling of struggle…to greet the conflict as a welcomed friend?
“Let’s work on one measure at a time. No need to rush.” We take baby steps.
“One measure at a time and before you know it, you’ll be flying through the whole piece,” I reassure.
Little does he know that the discipline of STAYING in his seat, when it gets hard is training him for bigger struggles in his life. One day in the midst of struggling he will remember the feeling of accomplishment and his endurance will again…
Stretching through the pain to soar to a new height.
I want him to be willing to stretch through the uncomfortable feeling and use it in all situations.
One day the pain will not be a complicated piano piece, but maybe a troublesome child that desperately needs a sure-footed parent to REMAIN, or a difficult marriage that takes years to cry “victory”…and by then his soul will be seasoned to STAY PUT…to stay at the bench until the uncomfortable, painful, awkwardness turns to beautiful music.
Walking away too soon because it HURTS…seeking comfort in relief from pain short-changes a life from soaring in the glory of perseverance.
An athlete feels a burn when he is growing to a new level. If he quits in the face of pain, he never excels. Pain offers an opportunity to grow.
I want my son to have the fortitude to press into difficult relationships and let God stretch him into His likeness.
So for now, we will Stay Put at the piano and struggle to victory…
Struggle, Stretch, and Soar as a rehearsal for bigger character stretches in his future.