I love running. I love the ache in my lungs, the burn in my legs and the feeling of sweat on my face. There is nothing glamorous about running. It's pretty gross to be honest.
After my second half marathon all I could feel was the vast amounts of liquid in my body and covering my clothes. Gatorade on my arms and legs. I had stepped in a puddle. I was sweating like I cannot even explain. Gross.
But that's not what this post is about.
This post is about strength.
When I was training for my half marathon, I frequented my local gym. Aside from the six TVs (which usually just showed depressing news) there was another attraction that made the gym a very entertaining place. I loved watching the guys come in, all tough in their gym clothes, tanks, tees, whatever, and go for the weights. The bench press. The true test of strength and manhood. From the corner of my eye I would watch as they packed on the weight and bent their knees preparing to lift the bar.
They would heave it up. OOH. Let it fall. AHH! And repeat.
And then drop the bar with a definitive ARGH! The tough guy did two reps. Maybe three if he was feeling confident. Then they would get a drink, pause to watch the baseball replay. And that was it.
Now, I spent several months training. I am pretty sure those guys did not get any stronger or any more muscle. They were not consistent. They were not dedicated. They wanted to glory of saying they benched twice their weight without saying how many times. How impressive.
Physical strength is gained by dedication, consistency, repetition, and a whole lot of killing yourself over and over.
Spiritual strength is the same way. People who take on lofty goals after hearing an inspiring speech usually crash and burn. People who commit to one small thing over a long period of time usually do better. For example, I have committed myself to saying Asher Yatzar every time I use the bathroom. It is something so small you might think what's the point? Well the point is that after spending so much time with individuals who cannot regulate their body functions, rely on a catheter or need someone else to change them, I have learned to appreciate the fact that I can use the bathroom and my body functions the way it should.
But that is something I took on myself.
What about the things that are thrown at me? The challenges that face me constantly. Do I succumb? Do I throw one punch and then admit defeat? Do I stop running, stop moving, because it hurts? I would never get anywhere. But at the same time, should I even bother when I can only take a step at a time or can only hit the target once out of every hundred times?
I know what my challenges are. I know that I have the strength to over come, but do I have the consistency? Once you can do enough repetitions you are ready for a heavier load. But that means you have to settle for the small successes.
Right now, my spiritual load is, figuratively, at 50, and I am trying to build my strength to get to 60. But 50 is heavy. 50 is hard. 50 is the constant messages I try to ignore, the phone calls I don't pick up and the lingering voices saying Oh, it's not so bad.
But do I want to stay at 50? Do I want to know that I can get to 60? Or 70? Of course. So I will keep at 50 until I feel my body, my soul, can add more.... til I feel that I can face whatever the next challenge is that is thrown my way.
It hurts. It's hard. But I'll keep at it.