Our culture is one of pressures. There is pressure all around us – to be better, to do more, to achieve, to be respected, to gain financially and socially, to be more secure. And there’s the other side – to not care what others say, to be unique, to follow the beat of your own drum, to be comfortable in your shoes. These things feel counterproductive to each other, and yet we constantly hear both messages in our ears, running around in circles trying to do it all. Because we’ve been told we can have it all.
Let me tell you a secret. YOU CANNOT HAVE IT ALL. We can’t. It’s a myth. Something ALWAYS has to give. Something always will. The thing that is quietest. the thing that resists the least. The unsqueaky wheel. It will be something you aren’t paying enough attention to, or ironically, the thing you are paying the most attention to. But something will decrease and diminish and something else will take its place, and the pressures of this life will drive away your greatest treasures if you let them.
I believe that pressure, whether self-induced or other-induced (and it can be hard to tell the difference for most people), only shows your character, not necessarily forming it. I say that when you are put to the test, you are revealing what you are, what you know. It’s like taking an exam. You aren’t learning from the test per se, though you will certainly learn what you did wrong when you get the results, but you are being given a tool by which you measure what you’ve learned and what you can reason out.
Same with life. The hardships come and the conflict arises and the pain and heartbreak come to your door. What you do next is your test. It shows what you are made of and how you have prepared, or how you have completely not prepared for life’s hardest battles. You don’t march off to war without being suited up and carrying adequate resources. You don’t go to the store without a means to pay for your purchases. And you don’t walk through life thinking that you will just face whatever comes when it gets here. You prepare for it. You KNOW it will be difficult. You KNOW there will be sacrifices to be made. You KNOW people will not agree with you. You KNOW your husband will not understand you and will hurt your heart. You KNOW that friends and family will disappoint you. You KNOW that you will disappoint yourself. You KNOW that your children will disobey you and misbehave. You KNOW life will never be perfect and there will be days when you would rather be a piece of coal stuck in a mine a thousand feet below the earth. (Yes, I know that diamonds don’t really come from coal mines, but you know what I mean.)
I am preparing now. I prepared during the good times and the bad. I do the exercises of my soul, to know myself and my weaknesses, the places where I know I’ll be attacked. I study and I ask the Lord to change me and make me ready. I ask the Lord to know Him, to be only about Him, to see my life as a testing ground to be proved and made perfect.
My prayer is that when these pressures come, my heart will stand the test. I pray that my soul will be like a diamond, up to the pressures and the hardness of life, that I will stay strong and resilient, clear and above reproach even under a microscope. I pray that my response to high pressure situations will be like a skillful, sharp blade cutting through a jungle, making clear and decisive movements, because I know how to face the journey. I know where I’m going. I know how to handle myself. I know that it will be hard work, that there’s an easier path, but I don’t want the easy path if it isn’t the right path. And I want in my marriage to always take the path that will lead us to peace and resolution and redemption, not just ease and comfort and ignorance. I want to always be sharp and have clarity, never clouding issues with my selfish ambitions or impure motives. I pray that I will always see through my own sinfulness and pride, looking only to the purity of Jesus and claiming it for my own. And as iron sharpens iron, I pray that my husband and I will have hearts like diamonds, clear and pure and shining for the best of jewelers to make something magnificent and stunning, fit for the King.