I am not lost on the irony that I am two days late in regard to when I usually spend time with you, the reader. In the past two days, a lot has happened in my personal and professional life. I cannot place that in any other context, rather than to suggest that my life was upended in a 10-minute phone conversation, but in a good way. It brought me back to some thoughts I have been contemplating, struggling with, and wrestling with over the past few weeks.
From a martial arts context, my teacher stressed the importance of time and space, or ma’ai. For your techniques to be effective in the unfortunate event of a physical attack on your well-being, the timing and distance between you and your adversary had to be correct. It had to be optimal for you, and not your adversary. Everything had to fit at the exact right time, and in the right space.
Last week, we explored the idea that principles contained within our martial arts techniques and training philosophies can have wider applications to our lives. Probably more so than our last exploration, timing and distance have an even bigger application to our lives aside from martial applications.
If you have ever been in a romantic relationship, you will notice that the timing of the relationship was crucial, especially if the relationship ultimately ended. One person may have been inclined to move in a direction that was more suited toward their career. Or, family issues may have become paramount that necessitated one person in the relationship moving away, physically or emotionally. Or, for one or both participants in the romance, it just was not the right time. The dynamics of the relationship including personality, shared interests, and physical attraction perhaps were not an issue, but the timing of the relationship in the broader scope of life was just not right.
Timing in professional relationships is also crucial. We have had several inquiries into our services in which timing played a key role in how the relationship progressed. I recall one instance in which a high-profile business in our region was interested in working with us regarding travel safety and security for their sales team. At about the same time, some liability issues occurred with an accident that occurred on their property. They wanted to work with us, and the desire was mutual. But, rightfully so, the CEO of the company had to prioritize his business decisions and put the most important things first. The timing was not right.
One of our Black Belts is an independent business owner that I have known for the vast majority of my life. Many times in the martial arts there will be occasions in which the teacher becomes the student. This was one such time because he understood the concept of timing in building business relationships to a far greater degree than I could ever fathom. He has a keen ability to build relationships because of his personality. His mannerisms put people at ease. He is genuine. It would not take you long in a conversation with him to understand that there is no façade before you. He is not a reprint of an original work. Rather, he is the one and only copy of a work of art. He understands people. He understands that in the concept of business, if two gears in the machinery of commerce are not moving at their ordained time and in their required direction, the relationship will not work. He taught me volumes about this aspect of business and the people that make businesses run. To paraphrase him, the timing has to be right or it will not work.
Many times in life we will undergo periods of joy that seem to slip through our fingers like grains of sand. If you take time and reflect on your life, the most joyous times of your life seem like flashes of lighting as far as time is concerned. Vacations with our families take up no more time on our clocks and calendars than do our days at the office. Yet, the time seems to go by much quicker. Those moments with our children seem to pass by at quantum speed. Happiness and joy happen quickly, yet our perception of these times seems fleeting in the broader context of our lives.
We tend to focus on those aspects of our lives when we endure hardship. Make no mistake, hardship is what defines us. Pain and suffering are what ultimately builds our character, our resolve, and the shape of our future. We often do not focus on the hardship. Rather, we focus on the duration of the hardship. How long will this last? How long must I endue this pain? In some cases, the hardship may last a few hours that teaches us a life lesson. In other cases, the hardship may last for years. In my case, my hardship lasted for 14 years.
As a Christian, I am cognizant that God exists outside of human time. His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Many outside the Christian faith often mock the scriptures that point out the admonition that Christ will return to claim his church at the end of 1000 years. Obviously, the calendar will point out that we are residing in the year 2020. Yet, our human concept of timing is not applicable to God as we worship him in the Christian world. One day may be the equivalent of 1000 years. Conversely, 1000 years may equal 1 day. We place our understanding on issues in a context in which we can understand it. In theological discussions, and human relationships, we often cannot understand what is happening because we only understand the world through our own understanding. Timing is one such context.
The cause of the hardship is not the point of discussion this week. The timing of hardships in our lives is our focus. In nature, nothing ever lasts forever. It cannot rain forever. Fires eventually burn themselves out unless outside interventions extinguish them. If you are going through hardship right now, or if you have experienced prolonged hardship, I am a living example that one day it will end.
Timing in life is often something that we cannot control. In my case, an albatross that had been attached to my neck for 14 years was lifted after a lengthy process lasting more than a year. Over the past few weeks, I had given very serious consideration to ending this process, which we will discuss in the near future. It was becoming more of a burden than what I was seeking to eradicate from my life. And then, on Friday morning at 0830 hours on May 29, 2020, my phone rang. After a ten-minute conversation, an unsettling yet joyous reality invaded my life: my hardship was over.
Some of you reading this are facing hardship right now. The hardship may be a minor inconvenience, or it may be a soul crushing pain that no one could ever comprehend. How long will it last? From a person of the Christian faith, I would tell you that the pain will last until the growth that you are required to receive has been accomplished. Hardship and pain enter our lives to teach us something about ourselves and about life. The lesson may be quick, or you may get a postgraduate education. That is all dependent upon the timing of the hardship, the lesson to be learned, and the context it has on your life. Speaking from experience, don’t stop living. It is hard. The pain is often something you wake up with every day as if it is a constant companion. This too shall pass. Learn from it, accept it as a landmark on your journey, and know that one day the pain will end and you will be better for having experienced it.
“The trouble is, you think you have time.” -Buddha