How many times do I have to be tested?

“How many times do I have to be tested?” I often cry. “How many times do I have to be put through the burning flames of the forge? How many mistakes do I have to make? How many times do I have to fall down the slope and how many times do I have to slip back down the rungs of the ladder before I get it right?!”

Then I sit in silence and listen, for it is then that the answer comes. And it’s not the answer I want to hear it; it is the answer I need to hear. “As many times as it takes!”

Life is refining me because I want to better myself. I want to achieve something – to add purpose to my journey through life – and for this to happen I have to be refined. It’s no good trying to live a better life while making the same old mistakes and dead-end decisions. For my life to have purpose, for me to grow and move forwards, I have to be refined.

The old chunks of want, self-destruction, violence and greed have to be slowly filtered away in order to let the new me shine through. The trouble is that I, like many of us, want the process to be quicker. I want it and I want it now!

There is nothing wrong in wanting a better, more prosperous life, but we have to understand that change comes at a cost, and that cost is the process of being refined. It’s no good trying to move forward and to fit into the narrow spaces where success lies when chunks of our past lives are still sticking out, blocking our pathways to success.

The refining stage is hard, and it’s meant to be. It’s what takes away all our burrs and ridges of old and allows us to slip through into the narrow gaps of success. These gaps are very small and they have very smooth sides, so if any aspects of our old selves are sticking out we will be unable to smoothly fill the gaps and achieve the success we desire.

We are like finely made swords that have to be put into the forge again and again in order to make the metal stronger and more durable. The stronger the steel, the sharper the blade.

We have to understand the refining process. We have to welcome it in and embrace it. We have to learn from it, because it points out our flaws, enabling us to work on them and smooth them out. It’s not a short process, it’s a long process, and it’s meant to be. It is meant to filter out the weak; to separate those that don’t really want success from those that do.

Remember: If, like me, you’re in the refining process, stick with it. Look for the ridges, the burrs and the sharp edges and start smoothing them out, because the opportunities for success are plentiful but the gaps are narrow.

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