My moment of truth occurs tomorrow. After 4 months of training, I will run my first half-marathon (that’s 13.1 miles). I guess you could label it some sort of mid-life crisis/crazy, but I want to tick it off my bucket list, conquer a thing deemed too-hard. Once I’m done, I’m pretty sure I might not ever train for another.
Why? Because running is painful! My longest run (a 10-miler) was brutal. By the end, most parts of my body ached with pain: my big toe, my knee, my lower back, to name a few. I hit the proverbial wall about 4 times during that run, which translates to every 2 miles. I wanted to give up time and again, but I didn’t. I kept thinking of the miles I’d already put in. They would amount to nothing if I quit now. Even though pain, both mental and physical, clung to me, I pressed on.
There’s a saying among runners when it comes to dealing with pain. It simply says, “Embrace the Suck.” I’m not a fan of the wording, but it does hold truth. Embrace defined in this sense means to “accept a belief, theory, or change willingly and enthusiastically.” So the motto simply means ” willingly and enthusiastically accept the pain.” I’m pretty sure I’ve yet to do that. In fact, the pain is usually what makes me quit.
Spiritually speaking, I would say most of us don’t embrace the pain. In fact, I think we run the other way, avoiding it at all costs. Yet the Bible says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you on all sides” (James 1:2, The Message). That goes right along with that runner’s motto. Who knew James coined the concept first?
However, James goes on to tell us why. “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you can become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way (James 1:3-4, The Message).
In the physical world of a runner, the pain isn’t without reason. Leg muscles as well as lung and heart muscles get stronger with each stride. Therefore, my next run can be longer and faster.
So it is with my spiritual body. As I embrace the trial before me, I’m forced to trust God to strengthen me. He never fails to do so. In return, my faith grows and His glory is further revealed. Someone’s life could be affected as she watches me “embrace the pain” as if it were a gift. This is how others see Christ in us.
Tomorrow I will cross the Tellico Summer Solstice Half-Marathon finish line (I hope!), and someday in the future, I will do the same for the race of life. Either way, may I do it with a giant grin — no matter what pain I’ve endured.