Living the Challenge

My husband and I recently viewed a webinar from Zen Habits together, which featured Jen Gresham, founder of the No Regrets Career Academy talking about how to find your passion when it comes to vocation. In the Main Presentation Jen mentions that a lack of motivation toward finding your passion or seeking a much-needed career change can often stem from a fear of failure. However, simply put, she described fear of failure as a necessary, important part of any challenge, and reminded listeners that if we’re not afraid of failure, we’re probably not challenging ourselves, and even if we fail, we probably won’t have the dreaded feeling we anticipate, but rather the satisfaction that comes from such hard work and perhaps even more importantly, the drive, experience, and the dedication to try again.

In the past year, I’ve been faced with so many challenges here living in China, from navigating visa paperwork, to negotiating compensation for a flood that occurred in our apartment just a few months after moving in, applying for grants while studying Chinese and making research contacts, not to mention the daily language challenge, as well as working in cross-cultural ministry and research. There have been challenges that I’ve been reluctant to take on not only for fear of my own inadequacy, but also for fear that my impact on others’ cultural and spiritual lives would do more harm than good.

It’s odd how these two fears, while seemingly different, come from the same place–namely, a lack of confidence that God is in control, and that God will equip those whom God calls.

Of course, a sense of careful evaluation and self-assessment is important and necessary when we face any challenge, but in most cases, we’re being asked to take on a challenge because others see us as the right person for the job, respect our abilities, and believe in us. While there’s that old adage, that God never gives us more than we can handle, the problem with such a statement is that it implies that we’re supposed to handle things down here, more or less on our own, whereas in fact, God is the ultimate giver, not only of challenges, but also of companionship, peace, strength, assurance, love, and encouragement.

I have found such peace this past week in surrendering to the fact that I am unable to solve all the problems put before me, but I’m also not called to do so. I’m called to make myself available to God, and be in communication with God, so that God can use me to be a part of healing, insight, and peace to others.

I’ve also found such joy in realizing how utterly challenging (sometimes I use the word overwhelming!) my life has been here in China, and embracing that as a good thing. I am growing and learning in both my academic and my spiritual life everyday…how many people can say that? I am blessed to live these challenges, and though I don’t always do so gracefully, I trust in a God who pretty much wrote the book on that. So, when I really think about it, failure becomes not so scary, challenges become amazing opportunities, and God, powerfully, patiently, and need I say, eternally, stays wonderfully the same.

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2 thoughts on “Living the Challenge

  1. Erin, great post. I’m glad you’ve found peace in the fact that you can’t solve all the problems. I, on the other hand, am having a hard relinquishing that one, but as you know, God is patient with us. Don’t let my screen name fool you, it’s the husband of wokabout here.

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