“Sometimes Ben gets lazy going uphill and likes to stop. He is a big ol’ boy, so don’t be afraid to give him a swift firm kick to get him moving again.” These were the final instructions that my horseback riding guide gave me before we headed out on the trail. I did not think much of her comments at the time. However, as I rode through the peaceful stillness of the woods, I remembered a time when I received a “swift firm kick”.
Several years ago my wife and I participated in a small group designed around building and maintaining a healthy marriage. We had only been married a few years and ended up being the youngest couple in the group. It seemed to us that our views and input were not valued simply because we were young. Our experience was discounted because our number of years of marriage seemed insignificant to many of the other group members.
One evening after group we met with the husband who was part of the married couple leading the group. I am ashamed to say that my wife and I whined about not being respected. We complained that our opinions were disregarded. After a few minutes of listening to us gripe about what others in the group thought about us, he suddenly interrupted and said, “Why do you give a s***?”
Needless to say that was a real “swift firm kick”! Thankfully, my wife and I both knew that this man loved us and was challenging us to grow up. Our attitude was wrong, and we needed to be confronted to come to a place of decision. The shocking language grabbed our attention at a time when we were only feeling sorry for ourselves. My wife and I still talk and laugh about it to this day.
When we come to a place in life where we receive a “swift firm kick”, there are two options:
- Reject it – this can take on several different forms. It may result in totally dismissing the person who offered the “kick”. It could be taken on as an offense. Essentially, in this case, the advice being offered is rejected without much thought. Any truth to be mined from what has been offered is disregarded. This option sees the “swift firm kick” as a personal attack or as an excuse to act like a victim.
- Accept it – this takes a measure of maturity and wisdom. Often times the words will sting a little. They may even be quite painful, but there is truth in them. This truth can bring freedom when processed properly. This option sees the “swift firm kick” as an opportunity to grow and improve.
Looking back on the experience I described above, my wife and I have perspective that allows us to be thankful for my friend’s courage to speak the painful truth to us. He very easily could have chosen not to offer words that would challenge us. When life offers you a “swift firm kick”, I encourage you to evaluate it closely. It may be an opportunity to get moving in the right direction again.
Question: How do you process ‘swift firm kicks’ when they come? What have you learned through these experiences? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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