Well, last week Jacob did something that made me very proud.....
He'd been given 50 push ups one morning after breakfast for something he'd done. His response to this was an enthusiastic, "it will be good practice for my cub-scout pack meeting!" This month's pack meeting was going to be a fitness challenge with one of the events being a push-up station. Usually I make the boys do their 50 push-ups in 2 sets of 25. But this morning, because he was "in training," he told me he wanted to do 50 in a row. I make them count them off as they do them. This is how it went....
1,2,3,4....all the way to 35 without any problems.
At 35 his pace slowed down. I could see that he was getting tired.
By the time he got to 40 he was struggling and I was worried that he might not make it to 50.
Amazingly he did.
When he reached 50 I expected him to drop to his knees. But instead of stopping I heard him breathlessly say:
"I'm going to do 55."
He made it to 55. Then he said:
"I think I can do 60."
He got to 60 and grunting under his breath I heard him say:
"I'm gonna do 65."
At this point his arms were shaking but he wouldn't stop. I waited to see what would happen next....
"My goal is 70.....I'm going for 70....(grunt),....I know I can do it... (more grunting)," he said.
When he reached 70 he dropped to the floor and smiled.
I love this kid. I love how tough he is. Not just physically but mentally too. Watching him through this ordeal I felt a close connection to him as I saw the strength of his spirit pushing past his pain to reach his goal. It made me feel so proud.
I've experienced this same struggle many times with the races I run. There are times in a marathon when I hit a wall and I feel my body tell me to surrender. But if I push past that pain I find an inner strength that helps me keep going. It's a very empowering feeling to know that your mind can conquer your body. Physically there's nothing that makes me feel more alive than to experience this kind of personal victory. I know that sounds incredibly dramatic but there's no other way that I can describe it.
When I'm in those moments during a race and I'm fighting that struggle to keep running or to stop and walk what keeps me going is to relate my physical pain to the spiritual & emotional struggles I've had in my life. In a race I often tell myself in my head, "dig in deep girl.... don't give up.... weather this storm.....endure to the end." When I refuse to surrender to the pain and do the very best I can without giving up (which may mean a dreadfully slow pace at times) I find an inner strength to keep going and not give up. I relate this to my challenges in life both past and present. Doing this empowers me to be strong and not to give up in the other parts of my life, not just during a race. My goal in every marathon I do is to run the entire 26.2 miles without stopping, and I've done it many times.
For me, there's nothing better than crossing that finish line at the end of a marathon and feeling that complete and utter sense of peace and relief knowing that it's over. It's done. It leaves me with an incredible feeling of peace and accomplishment. I imagine that's what it will be like at the end of my life if I've worked hard and done my best- regardless of the pain and struggles I've faced.
Seeing this same strength of spirit in my son when he wouldn't quit with his push-ups literally made my heart swell with pride. It gives me great confidence to know that when faced with challenges in his life he'll have the inner strength and stamina to push past the hard parts to reach his goals.
I wish that all of us could see how strong we really are. Running has taught me a lot about the potential each of us has. When I did my first 10K over 10 years ago I never thought that I would one day be running marathons. Doing a 10K was REALLY hard for me back then. But as I pushed myself to go farther I found that I was capable of so much more than even I realized. It's the same with our lives and who we are. 10 years ago you may have never guessed that you would be able to handle the trials and stresses you now face but you can and you are. When life throws you trials or challenges refuse to surrender. Your pace may slow dreadfully as you climb up that "hill" but as long as you don't stop it's okay. Just keep going and don't give up.
In my life, the inner strength to carry on amidst the trials I've faced has come from God. When I determine that I'm going to do my best and be my best no matter how meager of an offering that may be, I'm endowed with great power (an inner strength) to carry my burden with greater ease. Through His divine help I know that we can all find the strength we need to keep going and victoriously cross the finish line in our own life story.