Many years ago, I planted several red sunset maples at a house I had just built. During an ice storm that was accompanied by some really strong winds, one of the trees had bent over so much that it touched the lawn.
Thinking the tree might be ruined, I rushed out into the wind and cold and pulled the tree back up and tied it as straight as I could. I kept it tied for several months before I finally took the supporting ties off and let it stand on its own.
By that fall, the tree had grown perfectly straight and compared to the others, it had grown faster and taller.
As humans, we’re also presented with a lot of challenges in life. Challenges that beat us up, bend us, and ultimately shape us. And while it might feel like torture at the time and make us doubt the future, it serves a valuable purpose.
Like the tree that grew straighter than all the others, despite being damaged from the ice, wind and cold, we also grow stronger from being tested. A muscle only grows when it’s broken down and then allowed to rebuild. A plant does best when it has to fight for water by growing deeper roots.
So it should come as no surprise that we react in the same way as the natural world around us. We rebuild, repair the damage and in the end we’re tougher having went through the experience.
We learn the most and grow the most when we’re banging our heads against the wall and being subjected to all kinds of emotional torment. It’s our mind’s own way of breaking down, rebuilding and getting stronger as a result.
During these times we’re forced to think and figure things out. And really, even though we benefit from other’s support, we ultimately have to find our own way out of whatever situation we’re in. And that effort is where the growth and improvement occur.
We can either fold and give up or move towards a better emotional state. One where we’re happier, more content, and wiser for having gone through the pain.
Looking back at some of the challenges I’ve faced, challenges that made me question my ability to overcome them, I can see very clearly that choosing the fight almost always reaped the biggest rewards.