I think we can take a lot of life lessons from exercise.
Whether you're into CrossFit, HIIT, running, or some other discipline, I hope you'll hang with me here as I explore a concept I've been chewing on.
The other day my daughter ran an 800m race in middle school track.
It was a small meet, and the 800m is a pretty unpopular race distance at the middle school level. Consequently my daughter was running against a handful of 8th grade girls who looked like they could have smoked most adults in a local 5k.
Being early in the season, my daughter was unprepared for the level of competition she was going to face that day. Because of that, she finished the race in complete physical misery, and a few tears were shed out of her frustration, confusion, and pain.
In our post-race conversation she said, "After the first lap, I knew something was wrong."
I felt terrible that my daughter had endured a rough race, but when she said that, I had to giggle a bit.
Having run lots of 800m races in high school track, I knew the things she was feeling that felt "wrong" were actually signs that she was doing it RIGHT. In the 800, if you can't breathe, you're doubting your ability to finish, and you want to throw up, you've set the perfect pace.
I have no doubt that with some more conditioning and practice, my daughter will learn to dance with the pain of an 800m race beautifully, but the whole scenario got me thinking...
How many other places in our lives does this paradox play out?
We pour ourselves into our work, relationships, finances, and more. After all that pouring out, we can end up exhausted, desperately searching for some relief, and completely sick of the battle.
Are we doing something wrong when we feel this way? On the contrary. We're running the race to the best of our ability. We're caring deeply about our calling. We're giving our all. Of course we're going to be tired.
Unfortunately, it doesn't always feel good to give our all. Most of the time it hurts. When we're in the midst of the struggle, the temptation is to feel like something isn't right, like we're screwing something up, or that we don't have what it takes to keep going.
If only we could see ourselves from the stands. If only we could see ourselves through the eyes of a proud parent. If only we could see ourselves as our Creator sees us.
When we put every ounce of our ability toward the task we're called to participate in, it magnifies both the gifts we've been given, and the Giver of those gifts.
Don't get me wrong here. We can't always have the needle pinned. We have to take time to recover occasionally, and we can't do life on our own, but I believe feeling totally spent is a place we should find ourselves in frequently.
So, get some rest, then line up for another race (metaphorically speaking), and when it starts to hurt, remember...
You're doing it right.
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Speaking of dancing with the pain, it's always nice to have a fun partner when you're putting in work. :)
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