Date of original journal entry: June 25, 2018
“And this I do for the gospel’s sake . . . know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain.” II Conrinthians 9:23-24
I haven’t run in well over 20 years. Running was my favorite sport in school and preferred exercise later in life; it was my mental therapy. Everything else went away while I was running.
As a teen, I joined the high school track team. It was brutal! The intensity of the training, the laps around the track, the long runs through area neighborhoods — hard personal discipline. Brutal, yes, but so beneficial to every aspect of life, not just health and fitness.
We learned to dig in and push ourselves beyond what we thought we were capable of accomplishing. Mediocrity wouldn’t win on race day.
There comes a very tough point in the run, called The Wall. And it feels like a wall too, like slamming into an immovable object: your own body. It simply wants to quit. Here is the point at which a runner is made. Will I quit? Here is where the mind and sheer will must take over. The dominant desire, the driving force must be the finish line, the goal set before you.
The Wall. This is where the mind and body are simultaneously tested to the max and fear often sets in. The Wall. This is striving for the mastery; the mind being master over the physical; the will and desire being in control of a body screaming to quit.
And then — the breaking point. The Wall either conquers or is conquered.
For the runner who pushes past The Wall, the personal victory is intense. But the race is not over here; this victory comes before the finish line. This victory allows the runner to keep going, to face the final miles, to conquer themselves and gain the mastery. Running on the other side of The Wall is phenomenal; there is nothing else like it; it’s called “the runner’s high.” Now everything is pulling together; the mind, the will, the body are all in synch and it feels like flying!
How I’ve missed that singular thrill in these past many years of failing health. Sometimes I still get this little wisp of a dream that maybe again, one day . . .
This past month has been for me a wall of another sort. Body, mind, and heart simultaneously tested and tried. Emotional turmoil. Fear setting in. Thoughts of quitting the race. The physical has fiercely threatened to conquer; the mental will and desire has shrunk; the spiritual holding on by the merest of filament threads. The immovable object, The Wall, my own body, threatening to topple over and crush me. Since returning from Sierra Leone one year ago, this single month has brought the hardest trials and most acute testing.
But amazingly, in the way which only our God can accomplish, this one month has also brought some of the most thrilling blessings.
A cup of cool water passed to my hand during a run. My husband on his bicycle, baby daughter in her seat on the back, riding beside me while I run, encouraging me along the way. The high school coach on the side of the track shouting for me to dig deeper into myself.
The Wall was not faced alone.
Today, in the steaming hot shower needed each morning to ease the severe leg, back, and neck cramps caused in the night by spastic muscles, I made the personal decision to push past The Wall; a shimmering glint of desire had finally shone in its dark cast shadow. Today, with body and mind fully depleted, I made the commitment to God to dig deeper and so run, to bring my body into subjection despite its loud screaming protestations, to strive for the mastery that my dominant desire might be the conquerer in the race.
“And this I do for the gospel’s sake . . .”
Dedicated to my fellow runner DB with love and gratitude as we So Run together!
Thank you also to those who have been my “coach” on the sideline and have helped me along the way. Thank you that I don’t have to face The Wall alone.