I just finished sparring with my boxing partner under the branches of a huge tree in Balboa Park. We do this four or five times a week (when I am not home in Uganda or otherwise on the road). As we scrap, we move in and out of the shade, often emerging into the golden sunshine of the California evening.
The chill of the shade gives way to the warmth of the sun—that soon becomes too hot—and then we return to the shade that now feels pleasant. Before long, though, the sense of chill returns, and the sun compels us yet again.
Today, it seemed to me a real metaphor for the process of striving for excellence within the context of purpose.
When we are focused, committed and driven, we sometimes feel like mighty champions in the spotlight, but more often than not, we feel like fatigued fighters struggling between clarity and confusion, hot and cold, light and shadow.
We are at work.
In the worlds of higher education and social entrepreneurship, I often hear talk of “finding one’s place in the world,” and of the glories of change-making. What I don’t hear often enough is the beauty of mistake-making (this is how we best learn) in these processes of discovery, and I don’t hear about the dark, cold shadow of challenge.
To be clear: the darkness hates the Light, and when it can, it attempts to snuff out the tiniest flame, and to douse the mightiest fire.
Thankfully, the tiniest flame illuminates even complete darkness, and a mighty fire has nearly unstoppable power.
The darkness is not omnipotent.
And yet it exists, and labors, and fights.
And must not be ignored.
As you spar towards purpose today, I pray that you are in one of those championship moments of light. Please remember, though, that they do not last for long as you strive towards the great purpose you have been given.
And if you are in a moment of darkness, keep fighting. These moments also do not last long. You will emerge into sunshine again.
This struggle is hard and long—but temporary—and oh-so-worthwhile.