“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
― John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
This life is beautifully imperfect. A progress of ups and downs, a learning, emotional experience that is fantastic and exciting at times, and heavy, low and outright painful at others. Regardless, it is beautiful and a gift. One of my favorite books when I was younger was Pilgrim’s Progress. This journey of a 1600’s pilgrim leaving his home and family to embark on a journey to find hope, salvation and truth, faces many trials, obstructions and pitfalls. Fear and doubt are often a common theme for the pilgrim, Christian, as he veers from the path a number of times, but he always makes his way back to it very quickly. He eventually finds freedom from his burden, finding the truth – coming to realization what it it means to be the person he was intended to be. But that’s just the beginning of his journey. Christian faces many monsters and demons, forces that deceive and knock him down. They wound and trick him, but he does not relent. He gets back up and back on the path. Even though we do not face actual physical monsters and demons we do face them in a spiritual realm. Our journey, our relationships, health, career, our path is hit by monsters and demons and we learn as we get older our journey is far from perfect. There are many, many challenges and pitfalls along the way. We will veer in and out of the path, our focus bending, but not breaking. We will fall, but we get back up and try again. Through our heartache, despair, disappointment, struggles and failure it does work out like a da Vinci masterpiece. We go from glory to glory. But that “hell in the hallway” hurts.
What does our masterpiece look like? Our relationships go deeper, we begin to see the good in everything and everyone, we become a positive presence in any setting we enter shifting the atmosphere, we sincerely love, respect and value others and ourselves, and enter into our true gifting. We effectively become who we were intended to be, living out our life with real purpose. It is through God’s grace this is made possible. You’re special and unique, and you can make a huge impact in this life; in others lives, no matter how messy things get. It’s okay to be afraid, discouraged and wanting to turn back when facing trials and tribulations. But stand strong. Do not let yourself lose focus. Set a vision for your life, your relationships, your marriage, your family, your career and your community. You can make many, many things possible in your life, even in the most broken of places. Often these are the best places to be. But always stay on the path. Turn to hope, not fear. To promise, not despair. Don’t forget that you’re on a beautiful imperfect journey.
For more on the story of Pilgrim’s Progress check this out: