It has been few months since I went to Bookay-Ukay, a thrift bookstore at Maginhawa St. The place is so famous for it is a cramped and untidy place with lots of books. I found this book that I just had the desire to buy and read. By that time, I have no idea what the book was written all about.
When I started reading it, I knew then that Do Hard Things was written by twins Alex and Brett Harris, brother of Joshua Harris – the author of famous Christian dating book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl which I also read. What a coincidence, from the cover itself I thought it is just another action or teen-angst kind of novel, little did I know it was a Christian book written by teenagers for teenagers.
Yes, I know I am no longer a teenager. It was 2 years ago since I said goodbye to teen life. But hey, this book is not just for teenagers out there, but also for us in the early 20s or anyone who are still enjoying their youth/early adult life.
This book has taught so many things to me; broke some walls and perception I have had towards being a teenager; empowered me to step up out of my comfort zone; and to let me use my God-given skills and talents to make a change. Of course, I also want it to share with you.
“Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”
– 1 Corinthians 14:20
The world’s standard will tell us to be like this, like that, like them, like those, etc. It will cage our thoughts and visions about adulthood in a limited space and definition – never letting us mature more just as how God wants us to mature. But the good thing is that the Bible, the ultimate and final standard of our lives, tells us that as we enjoy being a teen and young, we should start doing things that will benefit us in the present and in the future – to do hard things.
But what does it mean to do hard things?
1. To do things that is outside of our comfort zone.
The comfort zone is the safest place – a place that will take care of you; brainwashing you to settle in that place and not to even try to move out of it. It is such a sweet but paralyzing place; paralyzing your thoughts to do more, paralyzing your body to push your limits, paralyzing your future to be greater.
Years ago, I was so indulged in my own comfort zone. I was already used to being the average one; settling down to mediocre outputs and grades, or even below average. There are so many things I want to try and places I want to visit, but there’s a voice inside of me telling that I cannot do it; that I have no strength or enough knowledge to do it. Learning my weaknesses, I fought back. I cannot stay in that place anymore; I need to grow and mature. That is when I stood on my own feet and went out of my comfort zone.
2. To do things that go beyond what is expected or required.
As a teenager, our families, friends, and everyone around us, is expecting us to act like a teenager. The world is expecting us to do less in good things and to mature in evil things, pretty opposite of the things we really need to do. Doing hard things means that we are ought to go beyond what is expecting of us. It may about expectations in excellence in work, academics, relationships, and family.
As the youngest in the family, I have treated like a baby; a princess and a spoiled brat. It caged not just my mindset and capability, but also the people’s expectations to me. My older sister and brother experienced to work while studying for an extra income, I grew up wanting to try it, too, but my parents did not let me because they were just expecting me to study like a little girl will just do. Years have passed until I learned to decide and stand on my own (sort of), I decided to have a part-time work on my summer break from school. Those two months I’ve been working changed my outlook on money and life; it taught me to be more mature and responsible. It disciplined me the way other things or people would not discipline me. It was beyond other people’s expectation for me, but I learned.
3. To do things that are too big to accomplish alone.
We get it, the teenage stage is the phase where we try our best to prove to ourselves and to other people that we can do it; that we know everything, we are strong enough (or old enough) to act and decide on our own. But, there are things that how hard we may try, we cannot do it alone. We need people; team, group, friends, and family to help us out and support us. May it just a simple group homework or something big as fundraising event or building an organization about something.
If you know me very well personally, you already know that I suck in group work. I cannot do it. I always try to work alone; even in group work I always do it on my own. I always try to prove to myself and to everyone that I can do it – I don’t need other people’s help. Not until I took our thesis just this year. I was frustrated; it was not easy, I cannot do it alone. It seems like I will not be able to finish it – I will not be able to graduate because it was too hard. That’s when I learned to lean on to my groupmates. Before, I treated them either as nothing or a rival, but my frustration taught me to treat them as friends; as a team who will work alongside me. And it is effective. We finished it altogether! We accomplished and surpassed our thesis because we work together as a team.
4. To do things that don’t earn an immediate payoff.
Admit it; we want to see what we have worked on immediately, we want other people to see what we are capable of. We try our best not to have a failing grade, but sometimes it just so hard to accomplish. We work hard to be the best leader of something, but it seems like people are not noticing your good works – no recognition and praises. But these things, we do it not because of praises we could get from other people, but because it is right.
Doing good will never be an easy act, especially when you are used to doing the complete opposite of it. But doing well is right, being good is right – not for other people’s praises and recognition, but for God. Sometimes we put our standards and value to other people; we try hard to do something good so that they will praise you and see you as an extraordinary one, but oftentimes, people failed to see those things. We end up disappointed, frustrated, thinking that we are not good enough. The truth is, we do not need to earn people’s approval. We do not need to push ourselves to do something for the sake of their praises and commendations. One audience is enough, and that is God. We do things because they are right, not because they have an immediate payoff.
5. To do things that challenge the cultural norm.
There is an old saying that, “Just go with the flow.” I could hear from other people this especially when I left with no choice or trapped in sudden problems. Just go with the flow – it means that you let it be, you let those people dictate what you will do with your life. But just going with the flow will lead us nowhere. Instead of going with the flow, go AGAINST the flow. If the culture tells you to do something that against your faith – against your belief – do the opposite. Instead of listening to what they will say, do what they are not doing.
I tell you, it is not easy to go against the flow. Especially when you are in a teenage phase; peer pressure is too high; other people’s influence is too strong, and you are too vulnerable. But doing hard means doing things against what the world tells us to do. Culture told you to wear the shortest and revealing clothes ever existed; you will wear the most modest outfit. Culture told you to compromise your value and worth just for fame, likes, and admirations of the many; you will remain holy, pure, and simple just as how God wants you to be.
These five points are just the topics that were discussed in the book. I can tell that this book really helped me; encouraged me and pushed me to do hard things. Doing hard things not necessarily mean that you will just do complicated things; it should also reflect on the fruit of what you are doing. Does it make you a better individual? Does it make you live the life God wants you to live? Doing hard things is not rebelling against the authority, but it is rebelling against low expectations to teenagers.