Embracing the Tumble: How to Turn Obstacles into Opportunities for Growth

Published on
June 26, 2024

The Six Month Mark

We are nearing the end of June. Soon, we will be in the third quarter of 2024.

This month is an excellent time to reflect on what has been, what we want to achieve, and, perhaps, to make course corrections. Life is full of personal and professional challenges and successes. Likely, you’ve experienced both since this year began.

Difficulties can be seasons of great uncertainty or growth opportunities. Below, I'll share some insights, tips, and strategies to help you overcome life's challenges and emerge stronger from the other side.

One strategy is to practice self-reflection, which can help you understand your reactions to challenges and identify areas for personal growth. Another is to seek support from others, as their perspectives and experiences can provide valuable insights and encouragement.

Learning to Walk

As I write this post, yesterday was Father's Day in the United States. I remember when Vicki and I learned she was pregnant with our first and second child. To say we were excited both times would be a vast understatement.

In unique ways, babies teach us much about overcoming challenges. They have an innate sense of needing to be cared for and fed, but they do not possess a developed way of communicating their needs. Instead, they cry when they need attention.

Children fall often but get back up and keep trying until they finally succeed. They learn to walk by using the challenges of consistently falling and getting back up. 

Similarly, we can use our challenges as opportunities to learn, grow, and become better versions of ourselves.

When we face difficult times, it's easy to become discouraged and give up. However, it's important to remember that every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Just like a child learning to walk, we may stumble and fall, but we must keep getting back up and trying again.

The Land Between

Pastor Jeff Manion wrote The Land Between a few years ago. In the book, he describes seasons of uncertainty and the challenges we all face.

Messy middle experiences characterize these seasons. We are no longer where we used to be, but not yet where we want to be. They are complex and costly seasons and times of remarkable growth and transformation.

When Sam was diagnosed with a chronic illness, he found himself in a season of uncertainty and fear. He had to adapt to a new reality, one that involved daily medication, lifestyle changes, and constant worry about his health.

Sam mourned the loss of his old life and struggled to find purpose in this new chapter. However, as he connected with others who shared similar experiences, Sam began to see his illness as an opportunity for growth and empathy.

Through this challenging “land between,” Sam didn't just survive; he thrived. He discovered a passion for helping others navigate the challenges of chronic illness, a testament to his resilience and strength.

This journey, though difficult, allowed him to develop a deeper appreciation for the preciousness of life and the strength of the human spirit.

When we find ourselves in the land between, it's important to remember that this season will not last forever. We will eventually come out on the other side, but we will be different. We will have learned and grown from our experiences.

Faith and Endurance: The Dynamic Duo

Building endurance is like tending to a garden. It takes time and effort, but the process is necessary for growth. It's essential to believe in the process and ourselves during challenging times.

This belief, often rooted in faith, can provide the strength and resilience to endure and overcome challenges.

When we face challenges, it's easy to become discouraged and lose faith in ourselves and our abilities. However, it's important to remember that every challenge is an opportunity to build faith and endurance.

Julia had always dreamed of running a marathon, but achieving this goal included obstacles. She faced setbacks, injuries, and moments of self-doubt that threatened to derail her progress.

This young woman refused to give up on her dream. She leaned on her faith, reminding herself that challenges were growth opportunities and that she had the strength to overcome them. Julia committed to her training, day after day, even when progress seemed slow.

Through her unwavering dedication and belief in herself, Julia gradually built the endurance and resilience needed to cross the finish line, proving that she could achieve anything she set her mind to with faith and perseverance.

Life is a marathon. We keep showing up. As Eugene Peterson wrote, we live a long obedience in the same direction. We keep showing up, day after day - the best way to live. The obstacle is the way. Obediently and consistently showing up leads us to the finish line.

Seeing Challenges as Opportunities

It's easy to view challenges as insurmountable obstacles, but it's important to remember that every challenge is an opportunity to learn, grow, and become better versions of ourselves.

This perspective shift can help us approach challenges with curiosity and openness rather than fear and resistance, leading to more positive outcomes and personal growth.

Bob and Linda's son struggled with addiction, and they found themselves in a world of uncertainty and heartbreak. Navigating the complex healthcare system and supporting her son through relapses and recovery felt overwhelming at times.

However, Bob and Linda chose to view this challenge as an opportunity to grow and make a difference. They educated themselves about addiction, attended support groups, and became advocates for families facing similar struggles.

Linda even started a blog to share their experiences and offer hope to others. Both parents discovered a new sense of purpose and resilience through this challenging journey of walking with their son toward his recovery, transforming their pain into a powerful force for change and compassion in her community.

This season of redefinition, often marked by significant life changes or transitions, may be uncertain and challenging. Still, it can also be an opportunity to move you to the deepest part of who you are and guide you toward empathy toward people who need your wisdom earned from pain.

It's a time of self-discovery and growth where you can redefine your values, goals, and priorities.

From Endurance to Perfection

Perfection is not about never falling; it's about getting back up each time we fall. It's about being complete, knowing we have faced the challenge and become stronger. This concept of 'endurance to perfection' emphasizes the importance of resilience and learning from our failures rather than striving for an unattainable standard of perfection.

During an early season of my life, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. I was a stay-at-home kid who had never ventured far from the home I grew up in. After several processes, I was on the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

During boot camp, we moved at a relentless pace day after day (physical training, Marine Corps knowledge, properly wearing our uniform, drill, and weapons qualification).

As a unit, we made hourly mistakes, especially early on. At a certain point during our training, we gelled as a unit, learned the value of sharing challenges, and learned to endure another day.

We never reached perfection. Some of us struggled with swim and rifle qualification and often didn’t pass an inspection. But over time, our endurance and striving for perfection paid off. We finally became United States Marines. We had passed the test.

Although we may feel discouraged and defeated, every challenge is an opportunity to build endurance and resilience. Every time we get back up, we become stronger and more resilient.

Keep Standing Up

Life will continue to throw challenges our way, but we can view them as opportunities to propel us towards our goals. Embrace the tumble, dust off, and take the leap of faith.

Remember my now adult children standing up when they fell as children the next time life throws you a curveball. Remember the chronic illness, the marathon runner, overcoming drug addiction, and my boot camp experience.

Embrace the tumble, dust off, get back on your feet, and take the leap of faith. Because, my friend, there is a peculiar joy in facing down challenges and taking the plunge.

Your Turn

Life challenges are inevitable, but our perspective and response to these challenges define our growth and success.

By viewing obstacles as opportunities for learning and development, we can cultivate the resilience and endurance needed to navigate the "messy middle" and emerge stronger on the other side.

Just like a child learning to walk or a marathon runner pushing through setbacks, we must keep showing up daily with faith in ourselves and the journey. Through this persistent effort and belief, we can transform our pain into purpose and ultimately achieve our goals.

Remember, every challenge is a chance to discover new strengths, passions, and purposes within ourselves and to transform pain into a powerful force for change and compassion.

As you reflect on your journey, consider these questions:

  1. What lessons have I learned from past challenges, and how can I apply them to my current situation?
  2. How can I reframe my current obstacles as opportunities for growth and development?
  3. What areas of my life do I need to cultivate more faith, endurance, and resilience?
  4. What new strengths, passions, or purposes might be waiting for me on the other side of this challenge?
  5. How can I use my experiences to support and inspire others facing similar challenges?

By exploring these questions and embracing the transformative power of life's challenges, you will develop the strength, wisdom, and compassion needed to overcome obstacles and help others.

Keep standing up, dusting yourself off, and taking those leaps of faith – for it is through these courageous actions that we truly grow and thrive.

Tell me how you plan to keep getting up when life throws you a curveball. How are you "embracing the tumble?"
I always enjoy reader responses.

I’ve created a two-page PDF download for you to use to write out your reflections on the five questions I listed above. You can find the download here.

*This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a small commission if you purchase the books I linked to.

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