September 27, 2014 by AJ Briones
To face difficult challenges is really not easy. I guess that was already implied when the word “difficult” was connected to the word challenges. This may be for the reason that difficult challenges push us into a zone where we do not feel comfortable and near to a false image of a breaking point. I believe that in this world, there is no person that can say that they have escaped experiencing difficult challenges. All of us regardless of religion, attitudes, nations, neighborhoods, etc. would come into multiple occasions where we would have to be in a fight-or-flight dilemma.
When I was younger, I was not quite an achiever. My brother and sisters would receive high grades and awards in school, being renowned for their skills, wits, demeanour, talents, trophies and certificates. I on the other hand received an award but I guess it would be more of something to credit to my parents; consistent loyalty awards from pre-school to high school.
I grew up not expecting anything from myself. All I knew was that I had to go through life and do enough effort to not fail and graduate, not because I wanted to get a good job when I was older, have my own business or not because I was conscious of my school performance, but because being at the safe zone of life was something I knew I had to do. It was an automatic goal for people like me. That was what was on my mind.
I went on being like that until I was college. School became a challenge and I could remember myself hoping to have a 3.0 grade for my subjects. In my mind, that was enough. I had no reason to prove myself and I did not have any desire to compete for the favor of my parents in the area of academics. I just had to have a sufficient grade to graduate and be able to say I am living life. Well, that’s the question. Was I really living life?
I met my fiancé, KC when we were still college students. She was a lively young woman that was not afraid of responsibility. She was an officer at the jurisdictional level of the youth of one of oldest protestant churches in the Philippines. She was a person who served people and above that, I loved how she loved God at a very young stage back then Child-like faith, that’s what they call it. When I met her, things started to change and I was unaware that my life would turn in such a way that I would not expect.
One day when KC I was talking on the phone, she told me that she would be sending me a book that she loved reading. She was so excited to send me the book and told me that I should read it. I was kind of troubled when she said that because she did not know that I have never ever read a book in my entire life. I mean read in a sense I have never finished a book. The book reports I gave to my professors and teachers were reports resulted from not reading the book but rather reading the book synopses online. Within a span of 3 days, I received the book she sent me. I was a book entitled Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. It was a book that I dragged to finish reading because I did not want the woman I love to be upset. That step changed me. It was a small decision that changed my life in a radical way.
From the book Passion and Purity I started out reading other books; lots of books. I started to learn and avenues for new activities opened themselves. Those were difficult challenges; from reading books to working on teams and even ministry; hard activities that I never in wildest dreams though I could do. I started managing people, people who I viewed more capable than I am. I started working on my own official blog. That time ajplus.wordpress.com was still reversedbystander.wordpress.com. I started doing things I thought I could never do. During the 3rd year of my college schooling, I was the top in our Experimental Psychology class. I even perfected an examination without answering the bonus questions. It was a change I did not see happening in my life. I became a Guidance Counselor and teacher; that was so unlikely. After which I went into the training business as Training officer for a certain insurance company, then a trainer for a cooperative catering services for major plants and industries in the Philippines. Now, to my amazement, I am a Corporate Training Head at the age of 26 at a company that exclusively sells and promotes a number of products from Japan, Taiwan, Belgium, USA, Canada, India, and Korea. I even started to enter Graduate School. Currently, I am taking up Master in Business Education at a polytechnic university in the Philippines.
The drastic changes in my way of living life and my philosophy even advanced itself when I started reading the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris and when I heard a statement from the blind chef Christine Ha who won Master Chef USA (theblindcook.com). It goes something like this. “You don’t really go out of your comfort zone, you stretch it. You expand it until such a time when hard activities become easier and then you will have to face new hard activities to conquer.” Well, that was kind of an expanded version of what she said. Just wanted to make sure I was able to send the message.
Life will always be filled with challenges. Difficult challenges will also arise. We can never escape that. It leaves us with a question. What do we do with those challenges? Do we simply leave them aside and wait at a corner? Or do we meet it head on and strengthen our character’s muscles? It won’t get any stronger if we won’t exercise it. As the speaker and writer Luis Palau would put it on his book High Definition Life, are we ready to GO FULL THROTTLE FOR LIFE’S BEST? I hope we are. I’ll be honest, I still face challenges I feel like I want to quit. Just recently I had one but in the end, not letting go and believing in God who placed me on that difficult situation did wonders. It was a choice I had to make. And it ruined the complacency I had for my life and made my life better and more exciting; ruined for the better.