They say the first step of the journey is always the hardest. I’m not sure about that. I think the step forward, past the first sign of pain, discomfort and trouble is the hardest.
The first step for me, whether it’s a new exercise program, a new diet, and just about a “new” anything, is exciting!
…Because it’s NEW. Anyone can keep something up for a day, maybe even a week. But it’s sustaining it when stress enters the picture.
For example: this week I started a 9 week Couch to 5K training program (..and I am literally starting from my couch). In an effort to give me something to work towards (I work well under pressure), I signed up for a 5k in May. I’ve NEVER done one.
Day one was “fun.” Even with the little remarks in my head that Iwasn’t fit enough for this or that I will never be a runner were overpowered by my excitment. The iPod app played heart-pumping songs I’ve never heard before and a fun British (or is she Australian?) trainer told me when to run, when to walk and encouraged me. I pushed myself, running a little faster and recited Thomas-the-Train happily: “I think I can…I think I can. I can! I can!”
The day after? Not so fun! When I woke up and moved my legs, I thought about calling in sick to work! Walking hurt. I realized I had thigh muscles I didn’t know I had. All I could think during the day was how I was suppose to run the program that day being THIS sore? And the day after the day after? Even worse! Why would my shoulders hurt? I wasn’t using those…was I???!!
So the excuses started flying! “I’m too sore.” “I will injure myself.” “This can’t be good.” “Time to stop!” My body was telling me, “NO!!” and I wanted to listen to it.
It reminded me of others times I had challenged my body like this: on a 60 mile walk for cancer, after walking 25 miles I found myself limping throughout day two, asking myself the whole time how I was going to do another 25 miles like this?
I remembered when I had started personal weight training. I went until I couldn’t go anymore. But the next day, I was in so much pain, I could barely walk. One time, I needed crutches to get me through the day. Everyone told me to quit. To slow down. I almost listened.
Today, I find myself so, so, soooooo sore! I’m tempted to slow down and agree that I wasn’t meant for running. But as I think back to past victories, I’m reminded that something happens when we push past the pain. Victory is just one step or sprint past the quitting line. Victory of spirit. Victory of body. And pushing past the point of quitting, going just a little longer, adds strength to your mind, body and soul.
So, as I put on my running shoes, my muscles are screaming, “ARE YOU CRAZY?! There is NO WAY you will be able to do this tonight?!”.
I know. But I’m going anyway.
I’m going because there are lessons in this I need to learn. Lessons that parraell the spiritual season I am in.
I’m going anyway…taking the hardest step: the step over difficulty, the step over pain.
The hardest step sometimes, is the step forward.
So friends…whatever pain you are facing, whether physically, spiritually or mentally, I want to encourage you to keep stepping. Take a step towards healing. Take a step towards God. Persevere. And when you think you can’t go anymore, remember who is there to urge you on and give you strength that isn’t even your own:
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. –Phil 4:13”
‘You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!”