Our theme to start out this new year is Resistance. It’s a big one. The image of resistance that pops into my mind is that of trying to push open a door that says pull. (How many of us get through this life without attempting that one?) I think we’ve all had situations where resistance is the teacher that shows us we have to do things differently in order to achieve our goal. Sometimes when I meet with resistance I literally ask myself, “are you trying to push open a door that says pull?” If I decide that is the case the solution is obvious and I clearly need to do the complete opposite thing to go forward.
So resistance can be a great wake up call. Resistance also causes suffering. In fact one working definition of suffering is, “the need for things to be different.” Or in other words we suffer when we resist what is—both on a small and large scale. When I resist getting out of bed to go to that early morning work out I suffer (in the form of later guilt.) When I want something for my kids that they don’t want for themselves I suffer because of their resistance to my wishes. When there are good things out there that I really want to be part of my life and yet I can’t make them happen all by myself, I come up against that Universal resistance– and suffering is inevitable until things shift and go my way.
So when we resist we suffer and yet sometimes it is so important that we resist! Listen to these words by Bell Hooks in Talking Back. She says, “I write these words to bear witness to the primacy of resistance struggle in any situation of domination (even within family life) to the strength and power that emerges from sustained resistance and the profound conviction that these forces can be healing, can protect us from dehumanization and despair.”
Tim Wise says,” And let’s be honest, there is no such place called justice if by that we envision a finish line, or a point at which the battle is won and the need to continue the struggle is over with. After all even when you succeed in obtaining a measure of justice you’re always forced to mobilize to defend that which you’ve won. There is no looming vacation. But there is redemption in struggle.”
If you’ve ever tried to create anything you know that there is a lot of resistance before that thing comes into being and a lot of persistence is required. The fact is resistance is crucial to growth. Steve Maraboli says, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance. Rise to the challenge of bringing your dreams to life. Do not be discouraged by resistance, be nourished by it. Success is the experience of rising to the level of your true greatness.”
Isn’t that a wonderful vision with which to begin a new year? Do not be discouraged by resistance, be nourished by it. Let’s cheerfully resist those things that need resisting knowing that both progress and growth are worthy of some suffering — but not spend a whole lot of time trying to push open those doors that say pull!
Janen Wright, Director of Faith Formation