Thoreau once observed, “It is very rare that you meet with obstacles in this world which the humblest man has not faculties to surmount.”
The pursuit of any worthwhile venture hits obstacles. There are obstacles of our own making. We may have acted too quickly, alienated others, extended trust inappropriately, hired the wrong people, or relied upon bad advice. The setbacks that occur from our own mistakes remind us to remain teachable for we may be one mistake away from a more debilitating one.
There are obstacles of betrayal. A spouse or business partner leaves, a business deal collapses, a much needed payment is reneged, a trusted associate steals valuable assets–these can foment anger and fantasies of revenge among the most serene of us. They serve as too often reminders of the frailty of others, and ourselves.
There are obstacles of nature. Unforeseen events, natural events (what the insurance industry calls “acts of God”), economic and regulatory changes, a family health crisis–all can wreck havoc on the best plans. These setbacks are often chronic and, consequently, frustrating for there is little we can do to change them. Adaptation and flexibility is our best strategy.
And there are obstacles of opportunity. This is the natural internal resistance we face in implementing an idea. The energy to bring to life what our brain conceives is so much greater than we imagine. And often, we are our own worse enemy, sabotaging our own path with distraction, procrastination and overload.
Each of these obstacles are like rocks that have fallen onto our road. Some are small and easily surmounted, others block our way entirely, taking more time to remove. Still others appear altogether impossible.
But with each is a test. And its central question is this, “Am I big enough to stop you?”
When the road appears bumpy or altogether impassable, we do well to imitate the conviction of the Apostle Paul, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). For that conviction gives us all the faculties we need to keep picking away at the road in front of us.
What kind of obstacles are in currently in your road?