Imagine you’re at the grocery store. Which line would you choose: the longest line with the new-hire at the helm, slowly and carefully ringing up each item? Or the shortest line with the veteran cashier, swiftly moving through customers? No matter how much time you have in your day, you would probably choose the shortest line. Most of us would.
It’s human nature to habitually size up our options and choose the quickest route from point A to point B. We like shortcuts. We want to do the easy thing, and we feel cheated or stupid if we can’t find the easy way out. When we smoothly and successfully navigate around obstacles, we feel like we’re beating the system. We look back at those still “standing in line” and get a sense that we’ve won at life.
This isn’t to say that we should choose the long line with the struggling cashier. Rather, when we find ourselves in difficult or frustrating situations, no matter how big or small, we should look around and find the opportunity in the challenge. Perhaps your potential future best friend is in line right behind you. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to call someone back and have been so busy it slipped your mind.
Kabbalists teach that obstacles are imperative to our spiritual growth. By avoiding them, we are actually avoiding the very thing that would be the catalyst for transformation or a channel for bringing more Light into the world.
The truth is, no matter how skilled we are at finding the easy way out of a situation, it’s certain we’ll get stuck from time to time. And when we do, it behooves us to embrace obstacles instead of avoiding them. Obstacles happen for a reason, says Michael Berg, “We didn't come into this world just to walk around locks and challenges. We are supposed to push ourselves when things get difficult. And there is no opening unless we go through a lock.”
What if every time we hit an obstacle in our path we turned in a different direction? We’d never get anywhere in life. We’d simply wander about, without ever really accomplishing anything. Though life is unpredictable, we can always count on obstacles to arise. Challenges are the means by which we become stronger and more connected to the Light than before. It takes awareness to see the status quo not as a win, but as coasting through life without growth.
Michael Berg reminds us, “When we sidestep today’s challenge, we’ll find a different one next week – but this week’s opportunity will be lost.” A tremendous amount of Light can be found within each challenge. The greater the challenge, the greater the Light that can be revealed from it. Furthermore, we can sometimes feel that in order to reveal Light, we must overcome the obstacle. Actually, we grow stronger, internalize lessons, and find clarity simply by choosing to face the challenge itself.
It’s not always about overcoming the challenge, but how much we can grow in just facing it. That’s how we reveal Light through our challenges.
Kabbalists teach that every obstacle in life is a gift from the Creator. Stop to honor each opportunity for change by asking what lesson the Creator means for you to learn. Sometimes the greatest challenge of all is facing obstacles with a different attitude – one that doesn’t see a challenge at all, but instead sees an opportunity.