Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

Do We Choose Our Challenges?



“I believe that life is basically a process of growth- that we go through many lives, choosing those situations and problems that we will learn through.”                              Jim Henson

I found this quote from Jim Henson in It’s Not Easy Being Green.  I had no idea until I picked up this little treasure for my grand kids just how wise the Muppet Man was. The book turns out to be full of inspiration for adults. The quote above struck me right between the eyes and down into my heart. I have often felt like I’ve gone through many lives since I as born. My life now seems so different from my childhood and so different from other times in my adulthood – the young adult exploratory phase, the early parenting years, the divorce and rebound wreckage, the years of finding myself again and now….well, now there is this whole new second chance at love with exciting possibilities to return to the things I loved in my youth.

Did I have to go through all those learning experiences to get here? Probably… Yes. All those choices and experiences brought me to this point and help me appreciate the gifts of the present.

Do we really choose (consciously or otherwise) the situations and problems we will learn from?

Certainly there are situations we learn from that we don’t choose. When some one dies, we learn how to cope and work through grief, but we don’t choose to be separated from a loved one by death. We can however, in the long run, choose how we cope. Are there problems that we choose in order to learn what we need to learn? That might explain why I chose after my divorce to enter into a relationship with someone dangerously different from my previous partner. I stayed in that first unhealthy rebound for about a year. In hindsight, I’ve thought it was a year too long. Did I stay long enough to learn what I needed to learn? To learn what I don’t want? That I deserved better?

Do we stay in jobs until we learn what we need to be able to move on? After a few years as a substance abuse counselor, I never thought I’d stay in the addiction field for 30 years. But something kept me at this job. Was it security? Were there things I needed to learn? It certainly taught me to be assertive. And this job played a big part in bringing me back to a loving Power greater than myself that could restore me to sanity.

This job I’ve had for 30 years brought me to God. The divorce and dangerous rebound brought me ever closer the one who would never leave me. God and the universe (God through the universe) can choose to put people or situations in our path to help us. Or test us. (Oh, great, another test!) Or to open our eyes to a new path. Or maybe God assigns us to a post because the work needs to be done, and we are the best person for the job. Maybe it’s all of the above.

I believe, like Wayne Dyer said, that God and the universe conspire with us to help us learn what we need to learn. It might take one year or it might take 30 years. But we always have a choice to jump in and test the waters or walk away because maybe we’re not ready to learn that one yet.

Or maybe walking away is what we needed to learn.

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

15 thoughts on “Do We Choose Our Challenges?

  1. This is a great post. I do believe that sometimes we choose our challenges in life. Me having anxiety, I many times force myself to try new things and meet new people. In that sense, I’m choosing certain challenges that may help me in the long run. I do also believe that God has a hand in everything we do and will help us through it all :).

    • Yes! God will always be there to help us through. It’s good to sometimes step outside our comfort zone holding God’s hand. Even tiny steps can add up to tremendous growth over time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!

  2. Hi JoAnna, what a great post, it’s like your Greatest Hits album – you’ve raised and explored some complex issues that I often think about – I haven’t come to any final conclusions in this area – so it was great to read someone else and their thoughts. Am I here to learn something or do I learn something from me just being here and there is no plan to it. Great food for thought Joanna. I hope you are doing fantastically well. Hugs, Harlon

    • Thank you, Harlon! I am doing fantastically well which has not always been the case. I like to ask questions and explore possibilities. Another possibility that occurred to me as I read your comment is that I sometimes we are here to have fun and enjoy the amazing and the simple gifts life offers. Like hugs! Hugging you back 🙂

  3. Hi JoAnna,

    I thought this would make a beautiful addition to the dialogue post Hariod and I shared about karma, which I don’t know if you saw or not. But would you mind if I made a link to this in the commentary of that post? Or if you feel so inclined go for it! I won’t offer a rambling response to your questions because Hariod and I wrote far too much already in our exchange! Ha!

    But I believe 100% with you that there is a miraculous way in which this Universe, God and Life perpetually place us in the conditions that return to us the awareness of who we are being, and at a deeper level the memory of who we are… The beautiful aspect of trusting this is that it reminds us the conditions of our lives are the not the result of some capricious fate or a judgmental God, but the perfectly ordered workings of grace.


    • I’m sorry it took a little bit to get back to you on this. Of course you can link this post to the commentary. I have attempted to do that just now and hope I did it right. I confess that I have not yet read the dialogue post with Hariod. But the topic of Karma is a fascinating one, and I’ve saved the PDF to my computer and look forward to reading it soon. Thank you for including me!

  4. Admire your fauth JoAnna. Thanks for sharing.

  5. This is a beautiful post! I’ve often wondered that same question…do we truly choose all of our challenges? The question that really gets me is thinking about child abuse, for example. Can we really say that kids choose that? I know that’s an extreme example, but I have thought about it. I do think that ultimately you’re right, we may not choose all of our challenges, but we can choose how we respond to them. In some cases, the choice seems to come later in life. Anyway, it’s sounds like you’ve come to a very deep understanding of the choices you’ve made in your own life, which is inspiring.

    • So yeah, to clarify–I definitely don’t think kids choose abuse. But often later in life, they can choose what to do with those memories. And even in less extreme situations, we may not choose them, but we can also choose what to do moving forward.

    • Thank you, Jenna, for bringing the child abuse issue to light. I do not believe children choose abuse and I bet Jim Henson was thinking of adults. This is one of those posts that explores the question. Some challenges we choose and some we don’t. And we all make choices, on some level, about how to respond.

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