The other day I posted about the benefits of physical resistance if your goal is to get fit.  If you want strong, toned muscles you have to use resistance of some sort, right?  Weights… walking… yoga… biking… pulling… pushing… lifting… bending… you get the picture.  And, that’s really healthy to do.  You don’t have to kill yourself.  You don’t have to run a marathon to get fit.  But, you do need some resistance.

Sometimes life offers forms of resistance to get us emotionally, mentally and spiritually fit too. Learning a new skill can feel like mental resistance — it can be tough.  I was just helping my first grader with her advanced math homework and she was a little stuck.  I explained it several times and it took her a bit to catch on.  She worked hard.  In fact she struggled.  I could have just told her the answer — it wasn’t hard math for me.  But that’s not the point.  The point was that she needed to try hard to learn the new skill.  A form of healthy mental resistance — or what we’d prefer to call mental fitness.

We’ve all been in challenging relationships too.  There are some people who really push our buttons. (Pausing here to think of a few people…) Those relationships are no fun.  In fact, sometimes they’re agony.  But… we do learn something, don’t we?  The Dalai Lama said in The Art of Happiness (paraphrasing a little) that we need to honor our enemies because they teach us things that our friends never would.  Our “enemies” will take us down paths that challenge our emotions.  In the end, we often find that we cherish those people for the lessons they taught us (not that we’d like to repeat the lessons…).  Emotional resistance … or emotional growth and maturity.

Spiritually we also encounter some healthy resistance at times.  And, just like those challenging relationships, these spiritual tests are no fun.  At all.  But, like all the wisdom literature and all the hero’s journeys illustrate, we gain a lot from the test.  We gain a heart full of courage.  We gain humility.  We gain wisdom.  We slay dragons.  We climb mountains.  We cross seas.  We journey to the ends of our inner world and we stand in the center of the four winds.  Sometimes we enter a dark night of the soul.  We feel lonely and vulnerable.  We ask, “Why me?”  But… at the end of it all it’s worth it.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Because of these forms of resistance (or challenge, or test, or whatever you want to call these hard edges), we find ourselves the best and highest version of ourselves.

You are full of light.  And strength.  And beauty.  You are wisdom and goodness.  Let yourself shine!