My legs were wobbling as I walked towards my vendor table. Due to the event my schedule was different that day and I had time between dropping my son off at school and my work event. I decided to go for a walk. The walk turned into a run. It had been a decade since I last went for a run. Why now?
The next day every fiber in my legs were burning. I remembered one thing I actually learned in Exercise Physiology, a class that I nearly failed in college. When you exercise microscopic fibers tear apart and then heal back together upon rest. When they rebond, the bond is stronger, thus your muscle is stronger. My legs were quite literally torn up. But it felt so good.
I kept going for runs. Each time a little longer. A little faster. Despite the thickness of the Florida humidity being sucked into my burning lungs, the ache to run grew stronger. I was sent back to the satisfaction of my high school and college cross-country days. But nostalgia had little to do with my desire to keep going. Running became a place of healing for me, both mentally and physically.
It’s been six months since I started running again and I can easily knock off 5 miles. I’m not nearly as fast as I used to be. I’m just excited to be back in the game and am excited to see where it takes me. I’m excited to have lost the 30 stress pounds and gain energy in its place.
Building up muscle and cardiovascular endurance isn’t easy, though. A lot of huffing, puffing, and sore muscles are involved. It takes time to get used to it before it actually feels good. When it feels good, you want more.
My life has been an uphill battle over the past five years. When it didn’t seem like things could get any worse, they did. I felt the physical pain in my chest like an out of shape mom trying to breathe in humid Florida air. I felt the burn in my tense muscles when I didn’t think I could stand under it anymore. And, somehow, I endured.
As each trial piled upon the other, the breathing got harder and the getting out of bed seemed more impossible. And yet I breathed. And yet I got out of bed. Just when I got a breath of fresh air, another trial came along. But it didn’t phase me much. I had gotten so used to pushing through, barely able to walk, that it didn’t seem so bad that there was one more thing. I adapted. Quickly.
My trials are far from over and I wish I had never gone through them. Unlike running, which is a healthy thing, I don’t crave more of the trials which destroyed my health. I wasn’t strong in the midst of them. I am a stronger and wiser person because of them. They allow me to empathize with others when they are faced with something hard. I’m able to talk about my trials and show people that they aren’t alone. I’m able to open up about the hard things and demonstrate how really great the Lord is for how intentional He was in pulling me through.
Over the past year God has been calling me to write about my pain. At first I didn’t know why. At first it was just healing for me and I wanted to invite others to come alongside me in my healing. I have since discovered that it is about more than just my healing, but about ministering to others who are in pain. Through all of my trials, I’ve developed a muscle of survival. Of perseverance. Of longsuffering.
As I run, I pray. As I pray, my mind becomes clear and I find words that I know I need to write down and share.
I hope that if you are reading this and think you can’t handle just one more ounce of suffering that you will find comfort in that I know what that’s like. I had a hard time believing that it would get better. But it did. I wanted to die but now I’m alive. And I’m alive for a purpose.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4