Challenges That Transform

None of us want to have problems in life.  That’s just simple human nature.  We don’t want to experience health problems, relationship difficulties, or financial insecurity, nor do we want to learn our kids are doing things they shouldn’t.  We all want to sail through life with as few challenges as possible.  There is nothing wrong with desiring a journey with few bumps, but as we all know, that’s just not the way life goes for most of us.  That is a given. What isn’t a given is our willingness to acknowledge our bumps -- to ourselves and to others.

Not only do we not want problems, but when we have them, many of us tend to deny them!  Some of us deny our problems because it is our way of coping and surviving.   But denial of our problems denies us the opportunity to grow spiritually.  The peace of avoidance and denial is not true peace. Richard Rohr, a well-known and respected spiritual writer and speaker, says spirituality in its best sense is what we do with our pain.  Spirituality is about transformation.  And when we don’t seek transformation from our pain, we simply end up transmitting it.  We transmit it to others, and we pass on the opportunity for growth that God is putting in front of us.

So how do we ensure that the problems we face in life transform us?  By truly trusting God.  Not trusting Him to solve or eliminate our problems, but trusting Him to give us the grace to hold our troubles, accept them and navigate our way through them.

When we face painful or difficult situations and deliberately, consciously and sincerely place them God’s hands, we feel much more peace than we ever thought possible.  And the situations eventually resolve themselves in ways that may not be what we ideally hoped for, but that in hindsight reveal value far beyond what we could have initially imagined.

photo credit: Mike Mozart, Potholes



How to Trust God? Practice, according to Tony Dungy

Trusting God can be a lot easier said than done -- it's not something you can just call up on a moment's notice!  How does it happen? Through practice according to former Super Bowl champion coach Tony Dungy.  

How does Tony Dungy know this you may be wondering?  Well, Tony Dungy had to trust God with what most people would consider to be the worst situation imaginable -- when in 2005, his 18 year old son Jamie took his own life. Tony Dungy was able to truly trust God when this awful event occurred because he had a lot of practice trusting God prior to Jamie's death.

Tony Dungy and his son Jamie

Tony Dungy and his son Jamie

Most people know Tony Dungy for leading the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl Championship in 2007 -- and being the first African American head coach to do so.  He has since retired from coaching and is now a studio analyst on NBC's popular Sunday Night Football show.  A successful career by almost all accounts.  

But what many people may forget is that Tony Dungy experienced quite a bit of career adversity as well. For example, he was:

  • Not drafted following a record-setting college football career.
  • Cut or traded by three teams during his brief four year NFL playing career.
  • Let go from several assistant coaching positions.
  • Fired as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Prematurely eliminated from the playoffs several times.
Tony Dungy believes trusting God requires practice.

Tony Dungy believes trusting God requires practice.

In an interview with Coach Dungy, he told me the reason he was able to trust God when Jamie died was because he had learned to trust God through all the relatively smaller setbacks he had experienced earlier.

Following is an excerpt from my interview with Coach Dungy where he talks about how he learned to trust God and how you can tell how much trust you actually have::

Perhaps we should all take a page out of Tony Dungy's playbook:  practice trusting God with our relatively smaller setbacks.  We will then be prepared to trust Him when faced with life's really difficult challenges.