I recently started back into running. I used to love to run. My favorite distance to train for was the half-marathon. I chuckle. When my mom introduces me to her friends, she loves to brag a bit, and it goes something like this: “Judith has seven children and runs marathons.” I have to correct her that I run ‘half-marathons’. No matter. The underlying theme that I pick up in her introduction is “Judith does unusually hard things.”
I took nearly two years off from regular running and training for races. I had some injuries to heal. By the end of two years, the activities I had replaced the running with (swimming and spinning) had lost their lustre. I do them so I can do triathlon, but I don’t love them the way I love running.
As I started back into running I started with an ‘improve your 5K time’ program. The distances were short compared to where I left off two years ago. It truly felt like I was starting over. Running 5K without a walk break was hard – and slow. At first I was discouraged. I soldiered on, hoping age wasn’t catching up with me and I would be able to regain some of the speed and ease I used to have.
It’s been about eight weeks now. Running is getting much easier. My speed is improving. I can often run up short (200 meter-long) hills without taking walk breaks. I am so happy to be ‘finding my legs’ and my lungs again.
While I run I often meditate. I ponder the life challenges we are facing in our family right now. I look at the running progress I’ve made in the past eight weeks and I tell myself, “I can do hard things. I am strong.” I recite scriptures to myself: “I can do all things in Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13) and “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me” (Psalms 139:5). I keep a voice in my head chugging along with “You know you can do it. Just a little bit farther.” I’m not sure if the voices in my head are more focused on pushing me to run better or helping me find strength for my family.
We’ll get through this current tough time. It may not end up being pretty; there may be battle scars to heal when it’s done. We will get through – and in the end our love for our family will be deeper. We will be stronger. With help from God we will get through it.
Life is hard. It just is. Life is also full of joy. We get through by working on the hard parts and focusing on the joy. While we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel just yet, we know there is no tunnel that goes on forever.
The next time you come across someone who you ‘feel’ has a heavy heart or ‘something’ that is weighing them down, offer them a smile, a kind word of encouragement, a hug (if it’s appropriate). You just might be the one whose thoughtfulness helps someone get through a ‘hard thing’.