1:57 PM: My first Writing 101 assignment was a bit of a surprise as I was in the middle of an unexpectedly busy Easter holiday and hadn’t even realized that April had crept up on me. That’s right. I do get so busy sometimes that I don’t have time to recall the date. Today is the last day of the longest holiday of the year and I’ve just squeezed in a few minutes between church conference sessions to try to do the assignment. I wondered at first if I could commit all of twenty minutes to writing something completely unplanned and with no actual view to what I’m going to do with that time investment except to post it on this blog. I’m still wondering as my cat just confirmed that I won’t be getting twenty uninterrupted minutes today. Yep, not gonna happen. I’m going to have to write this at another time.
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
Have you ever noticed that something or someone will invariably turn up to discourage you whenever you’re about to do or experience something that will benefit you? These are stumbling blocks and they aren’t rare. The whole purpose of a stumbling block is to trip you up and cause you to fall. Stumbling blocks aren’t always obvious. Sometimes they even seem well-meaning, such as a teacher who discourages you from pursuing your passion because you seem to lack the aptitude for it, or a friend who tells you not to take a risk for fear of your well-being. Whether a person is being a stumbling block or just giving advice (good or bad) is probably dependent on his motivations. Discouragement motivated by envy or fear is a stumbling block. Active sabotage is a stumbling block. Judgmental attitudes and self-centered disapproval are stumbling blocks. Writers block is a stumbling block and a good example of you getting in your own way. The list goes on, but hopefully God will give you the wisdom to recognize stumbling blocks when you encounter them.
You need to be able to distinguish stumbling blocks from advice. Advice is well-intentioned guidance based on someone else’s experience (good advice, that is). Advice can be discouraging, but that of itself doesn’t qualify it as a stumbling block. Turn a critical eye upon discouraging advice and see what aspects of what you’ve been told apply to your personal situation. Visualize the impact and end results of acting upon such advice. Take the parts you can use and discard the useless bits. Do the same with bad advice, Can you turn bad advice on its head and see aspects of your situation in a new light? Can you use any of it to your advantage. Can you turn it from a stumbling block into a stepping stone?
Dealing With Stumbling Blocks
You have choices when it comes to dealing with stumbling blocks. Your decisions will have an impact on your results and, consequently, your life.
- The easiest option is to let them trip you and fall flat on your face. This is also the default option and is sometimes unavoidable, but it isn’t ideal.
- When possible, pause and examine the stumbling block. Who put it in your way? Why? Can you remove it? Is it in your best interest to remove it? If you can remove it and it’s a good idea to do so, then by all means move it and get on with things!
- Go around it. This is the best solution when you need to handle the situation with decorum, and especially if you’re trying to avoid offense.
- Turn it into an opportunity. Do more than you thought possible. Be more than they and you thought you could be. Step on that stumbling block, enjoy the view from this new height and jump into better things than even you could imagine.