Thursday, June 23, 2011

The thing about pain

I am spending a good amount of time in the gym these days. After losing my mind signing up for a half-marathon, I have found myself back in an exercise program for the first time in almost 2 years. And during these long (for me) runs, I am learning a lot. This blog may be taken over for a few weeks by my revelations. It also may be retitled "the blonde who threw up on the treadmill." My run yesterday taught me about pain.

First, the mental pain. The kind of pain that says "you are not a runner. You cannot do this. You will have to stop and walk and your husband will be disappointed in you. Your baby is crying in the kids club while you selfishly run. She is probably hungry too." The whole 'mind over matter' thing has never worked well for me. When under pressure from the voices in my head, I almost always cave, barely putting up a fight. I know enough about exercise to know that the mental battle is often bigger than the physical one. So yesterday, on my longest run yet, I faced the mental pain almost from the start. We got a late start because of the rain and it was getting close to MK's dinner time. But a few hail mary's, a few distractions praying for my sick husband at home and friends in difficult places and I was able to divert those thoughts. Eventually, the mental pain went away.

Now, the physical pain. I am not a runner. I repeat, not a runner. For years, I have had pain in both knees and shins that, despite many a doctor, remains mysterious. I have scrawny, bony lower legs and honestly feel like those bones just cannot hold up the rest of me. Many years of ballet did a number on the knees. And let's not even talk about what childbirth did to the core that is supposed to hold me up while running. I am at the beginning of this training and the runs still hurt almost the whole run. The ligament that burned my whole pregnancy has reared its ugly head. My knees feel like they are breaking. But, every few minutes, I'll find myself just running. I will be running without pain and without staring at the clock for the end of the current interval. I am trusting that with continued effort, I'll have more of this time of just running. The pain, it does eventually go away.

How much is this a metaphor for life? None of us are immune to our seasons of aching and hurt, mental, physical or spiritual.  I think of my pregnancy, full of one pain or another for 9 months. That pain went away. I think of my struggle with depression in college. For now, praise God, it has gone away.  But then I think of my dad, with chronic, severe back pain. His pain has not gone away. I think of a friend who has not slept more than 2 hours in a year. Her pain has not gone away. I think of a little girl named Kate, battling brain cancer.  Her pain has not gone away. Lord knows I'd never be so cavalier as to say to them "it will go away, it will get better." Because when you are in the midst of pain, the future tense is simply not acceptable. You need relief now.

But the truth is, the pain does indeed go away. Whether because you have pushed through that 5th side cramp or because you are in Heaven with Jesus, the pain goes away. Isaiah 41 says "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." His promise is there, in the written word.

I hope that the next time I am in a season of pain, I will think back to these hard, difficult runs and remember that the pain subsided, and little bit by little bit, I reached my goal.

even if the pain of being trapped and bonking your head EVERY morning is extended while your mom takes a picture, this too goes away :)

1 comment:

  1. ...and even the pain of sharing an office with said pregnant girl who acts like she is the only woman who was ever uncomfortable during pregnancy in the history of the world...that too goes away