You do the hard thing.

Last week at church we had a lesson on self-reliance. Not the food storage or planting a garden type (okay the garden bit might have come up) but the important stuff like home and family and overcoming obstacles. It was a powerful and slightly terrifying reminder that I am, unfortunately, in charge of my life. No one is going to swoop in and do it for me; the good, the bad, the hard–all mine.

One of my closest friends is leaving Germany next week and we spent the day together which was stupid because it made me realize, once again, why I love her and hate Texas. Why do all the best people end up in Texas? She opened up to me about something that happened in her past that almost destroyed her family. The old Devil himself managed to slide into her life like a box of twinkies left over from a party and before she knew it, everything she held dear was hanging by a string.

She was at the bottom of her slope, brown and muddy, and she had to do the hard thing.

I know that the hard thing sucks. I know I’ve never been asked to do the really really hard thing. Heck, I hope and pray that I can stay out of the twinkie box and guard my life for the sake of my covenants and my family. The hard thing sounds terrifying.

She and her girlfriend went through the same hard thing simultaneously. But unlike her, the friend decided to walk away from her marriage and family. It’s amazing what a little perspective can do for a person. Watching the fallout–specifically her friend’s children–has been sobering.

Because all that bit about discovering who we really are? What we need to make us whole? Our right to happiness? It’s all a big fat fake. We are what we sacrifice. Finding yourself isn’t about the next hobby or relationship or accumulating the most “me time,” finding yourself is about taking that ugly thing that’s keeping you from the people you love and throwing it on the altars of Heaven, then dousing it with lighter fluid and watching it go up in flames.

Yes, life is hard. Yes, most of us experience routine disappointment and frustration with our jobs/relationships/homes/waistlines. But there’s nothing that makes me want to spit dirt more than seeing someone who’s willing to sacrifice their family instead of their habit. It sucks and I don’t care. You do the hard thing. Now. Like waiting is going to make it easier?

Because you can only put it off until tomorrow for so long. One day you’ll wake up and someone will have taken your tomorrow from you. Trust me, making the decision and following through might bring on a hail storm of pain, but pussy footing around until your sand runs out and the choice is lost will bring on a tsunami.

And frankly, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t end up being blessed for protecting and saving their children and home. People can grow and change, marriages can improve, and life has a way of mossing over even the ugliest castle ruins.

But you rip up your marriage and you will literally rend flesh. The flesh of my flesh bit you read about in the Bible? That’s children. They’re the ones who end up broken and torn and bleeding.

At the end of the day, if you’re an adult who’s brought babies into this world–whether you think you should have or not–it is your job protect them.

You do the hard thing.