“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” –Winston Churchill
I’m in the midst of marathon training for the first time. The blisters on my toes and creaky knees remind me that this training stuff is no joke. Yesterday I was out for my long run of 17 miles. My legs never ran this far in their 39 years of existence, and around mile ten they were feeling more like lead than bone. A mountainous hill laid before me, and my shoes crunched the fall leaves against the dark concrete. I just needed to stop, but then my marathon runner friend’s advice crept into my memory:
“I only stop running when I’m downhill. I figure if I’m downhill I can gain momentum again faster than if I’m running uphill,” she said.
I pressed forward. One foot in front of the other. The hill’s crest seemed eons away.
Isn’t that how life feels at times? The hill, which often looks, feels and is a mountain, in front of us is ominous, invasive and downright rude. If only there was a chair lift to carry me to the top, I tell myself, then I’d be much more content in my current situation.
Oh how often I forget that it’s in the pressing forward, the perseverance, the never giving up when resolve, character and endurance are sharpened. Traits risen from adversity, faithful stepping, and muscle building.
My music stopped. My breathing increased. My complaining waned. A squirrel scampered out from the bushes, the rushing river’s flow silenced as I ascended, and I settled into the difficulty. In this upward mile, there’s time to process and remember the truth of one foot in front of the other. I leaned into the hill and pressed forward. That’s all I could do.
When I crested the top, I finally slowed for a brief moment. The sun shone above the Cascade mountains, and I briefly turned around to see where I’d come from and enjoy the view. I couldn’t help but smile.
So, Dear One, for your heart as you climb your mountain, keep going. Take courage. And when you get to the top, the most incredible prize will be to see the mountain you conquered and character produced.
And, then, enjoy the ride on the way down!
“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5