“Come on! You’re on mile six and every step is a new personal record.” I shouted this while trying to motivate a group of young runners finishing up a long run. Allison, drenched in sweat, rolled her eyes and replied, “You already used that one on us. Try something else.” I laughed and shared a realism that motivated me, “You’re stronger with each step. Let’s go!”
Running is paradoxical in the sense that we put ourselves in discomfort in order to gain greater comfort later on. After a long run I am weakened to the point of pure exhaustion…even that step into the shower can be daunting…yet I relish the strain on the body afterwards because I know that I pushed my limit. When I face a fear, I practically beat it just by facing it. When I overcome an anger or resentment, my capacity to forgive or love increases. When I accept the pain of a growing experience, I realize that there is a larger context to many feelings. Accepting my weaknesses and vulnerabilities opens me open to God’s grace which typically results in unforeseen perseverance and strength. Sensing this growth is impossible; we seem to only recognize it looking backwards. One can take the “no pain, no gain” approach too far, but for most of us, a little discomfort can be beneficial.