A couple weeks ago my beloved Blackhawks were mired in a miserable 9 game losing streak. The only positive to the slump seemed to be the late start times on the west coast that saved me the disappointment of watching. But last week the Hawks turned things around. They have gone on to win four straight, and it turns out the late games weren’t the only good thing about the slump. A common refrain in the Hawks’ locker room recently has been that the lessons they learned in the slump are what led them to beat the hated Red Wings, an extremely hot Blues team, and the point leading Rangers.
It is interesting how it can take struggles for us to grow. When we are rolling along like the Hawks were at the start of the season, we can become complacent. We tend to believe we have everything together and we can sweep our shortcomings under the rug. Anyone with an ounce of hockey sense could see months ago that the Hawks were struggling on special teams (the power play and penalty kill) and that the goaltender play was not up to par. But when you continue to win it’s easy to ignore the deficiencies… until they jump up and bite you.
That’s exactly what happened when the Hawks went on their skid, but here they are in the midst of a four game win streak because the losing streak forced them to tighten up the penalty kill and Corey Crawford has made some adjustments in net (now if we can just get that power play rolling).
So why am I writing about the Blackhawks’ turn around in a blog about faith? In the same way that struggles initiated growth for the Hawks, I believe that struggle is an important catalyst for growth in our lives as well. I’ve always said that I believe we will grow more through a month of trials than a year of good times. When times are good we get comfortable. We lose our intention toward growth, and we often do whatever we can to protect our comfort. In tough times our struggles come front and center. We lose our masks and are forced to look in the mirror and see ourselves for who we really are. In the middle of struggles we tend to be more willing to do the hard work necessary for growth.
What if we were to embrace struggle? I don’t mean to suggest that we take embracing our struggles to the extreme and wallow in our pain, but what if we embrace it for the opportunity that it is? What if we saw the challenges we face not as something to avoid or survive, but something to wade into and thrive in the midst of? As we enter the Lenten season, a time of reflection on the passion of Jesus, what if we committed to change the way we view trials and pain? What if we start to see them as the chance to grow? What if we decide to see them as an important catalyst for our transformation into the people that God created us to be?