Opposition: Is It Really A Bad Thing?
Last week I talked about fear of failure and its little sister frustration, so I wanted to take it a step further and share with you my thoughts on what we can learn from all of this.
What causes the fear of failure and the frustration? Is opposition a sign that we need to stop our pursuit? Or is it a sign that we need to press through?
I'm sure that question has eluded all of us many times.
How do we know if it's God telling us "No" or if it's the enemy attacking us to get us to fail?
There isn't an easy answer. And I think it's because it can be difficult to know what is really in our hearts and in God's plan for us. Only when we sit down with ourselves and spend time in prayer can we really receive the answer to the opposition question. If we keep trying and trying, but nothing is working, are we just not working hard enough? Or is it the sign of a closed door? The other side to that question is: do we really want it badly enough?
Those are frustrating questions. We've all heard the sayings relating to pressing through opposition:
- "Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure." Napoleon Hill
- "Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door." Kyle Chandler
- "Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail." Ralph Waldo Emerson
- "When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." Thomas Jefferson
There are also books like the War of Art by Steven Pressfield that talk about facing fears and opposition to see breakthrough and success.
For biblical references:
- Romans 5:3 – "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
- James 1:2-4 – "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
And then there is this thing called God's timing.
Sometimes when we don't see results fast enough, we see that as a closing door. Our personal experience with our move to Alaska is a good example. Harold and I wanted to sell our home in Colorado and move to Alaska where we could enjoy more trees, less stress, and fewer bills. When we visited Alaska during the summer to check it out and see if we even liked it, Harold was offered a job. We looked into buying a house, but we were told that because of the work schedule (one week on, one week off), we wouldn't get approved for a home loan unless I also had a job. There aren't many jobs available here that would have given us the ability to purchase a home. The underlying fact that I had been unemployed for the previous five months didn't make me feel very optimistic.
Since the odds of me finding a decent paying job seemed pretty low and we couldn't get approved for a home loan without it, we decided to stay in Colorado. About a week after we got back from our trip, I finally got a job! With my former boss and a former colleague! The catch – the job was in Denver.
So, with the door of moving to Alaska closed, we bought our boat, enjoyed our weekends as much as we could, and I made my daily 45- to 60-minute commute to Denver.
But then friends brought up the point of moving up here, finding a place to rent, and giving it a shot. What really did we have to lose? And if it didn't work out, well, at least we could say we gave it a shot.
When we finally made the decision, we gave it a week to make sure that was really something we wanted to do. We gave our two-weeks' notice and then met with a realtor the following Monday night. The real estate market in our area was booming so it was the best possible time for us to sell. We put up a "coming soon" sign in our yard that evening and we had an interested buyer by early the next afternoon. They wanted to see the place before we listed it on the MLS. Long story short, they made a great offer and we were under contract by nine o'clock that night.
Just when we had given up on the idea of moving, everything started falling into place. We sold our house and most of our furniture and headed north. We made it to Alaska without incident, we found the perfect cabin rental by the river, we've made some really great friends and found a good church and small group, and this place feels like home already.
Sometimes it takes letting it go, accepting that maybe it won't work out or that maybe it's not our time yet, so we can allow God to work in our lives and for everything to fall into place. Maybe it takes the opposition for us to fully appreciate our achievements.
What would life really be like without opposition? What do we really learn when everything comes easily? When we have it easy, we can fall into the pit of taking things for granted. Or we can fail to truly appreciate good things because we haven't had to fight for them. We don't truly know what a good thing is when we haven't experienced the crummy stuff.
Facing our fears and battling with opposition can be very revealing. But I think it takes humbling ourselves, being willing to give it all up and being open to the possibilities, letting go of the control (because really we're not the ones in control anyway), for everything to fall into place. It's when we lay everything down before God, relinquish control, appreciate the blessings we've been given, and allow God to show up in our lives that we can be at peace with ourselves, our situation, and the world around us. And I believe that is the starting point to achieving our big dreams and seeing the story God has planned for us.