PEAKS AND VALLEYS
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler all sang, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”
You take one step forward and end up ten steps back…
Have you ever faced something seemingly insurmountable?
Divorce, Depression, a Diagnosis, Death of a loved one…
Have you made it through or conquered that “thing” and stood back a moment to breathe and bask in that moment?
I think this is what they were singing about…life.
As a kid, it always cracked me up to hear parents and teachers telling how they “had to travel to school by foot in the snow and it was uphill both ways!”
I totally get this now. Life is tough.
I’ve had those moments and am witness to this in several friends who are right there, right now. As if those insurmountable things are everywhere; surrounding, taunting, jabbing. Like you’re standing at the bottom of the lowest point of the vast depths of the Grand Canyon, entombed by its red cliffs, and on your last drop of water and final morsel of nourishment…
Approaching the hill at mile 23 of my second marathon, I heard the “POP” and felt something inhuman happen in my knee. It was sharp-shooting pain like I have never felt before, EVER.
Several doctor visits, MRI’s and consults later, I learned all about bulging discs and the nerve pain I was experiencing. I was told to quit running, to take up swimming and prescribed physical therapy (and injections, but no way am I having needles inserted in my spine!). The doctor told me, if I absolutely had to run, to quit for a year and if I continued to run, I better do it on soft surfaces and only uphill; downhill would aggravate the condition.
If you are a marathon runner, you know this news is like hearing your best friend just shot your dog and ran away with your life savings and your spouse (and insulted your mom on the way out!) Plus, if you are a runner (or athlete of any kind), you can relate to not wanting to give-up.
“…The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
I kinda half listened to the doctor’s advice; and half marathons are only one-half of a full marathon…
The Whiskey Row half marathon:
“Starting and finishing in historic downtown Prescott, home of the famous Whiskey Row, this out and back course is considered one of the most difficult in the United States, offering panoramic views of Northern Arizona. Starting at 5,280 feet, the elevation increases at 7,000 feet at the 13 mile turn around. The course is paved road for the first and last 3.5 miles, the rest is on Forest Service dirt road in the pines.” (From Active.com)
I registered, booked the hotel and was not going to let a little nerve pain get in the way. Well, if you know anything about back pain– it can take you to your knees in about .00015 seconds! I pushed through the pain. I stretched, attended physical therapy, did all those exercises at home, learned to swim and got addicted to ibuprofen (if that’s possible!)
I showed up at the starting line and prayed that I wouldn’t end up on my knees (no pun intended!) I lightly jogged until we hit the first uphill; I gritted it out and passed people! Funny thing though, it is followed by a downhill (those parents and teachers were full of sh*#!! 😉
A pack of three women, each with matching motivational t-shirts kept blowing by me on the downhill. I walked and prayed all the way down; hoping the ibuprofen would keep those bulging discs in check for a little while longer. Yet, on the next uphill, I was able to pick it up again and I caught back up to those three women! As I passed them I wanted to stop, but they cheered me on! Then, when they passed me on the next downhill, I whooped and hollered for them. For 13.1 miles of peaks and valleys this continued.
“Cause He who is in me, is greater than I will ever be and I will rise”-lyrics from “Rise” by Shawn McDonald.
And guess who crossed the finish line at the same time?
Me and the three.
Regardless of pace or terrain, we end up at the same place if we press on.
“How were you able to run all those up-hills?” One of the three approached me after the race and asked me, “Was this your strategy?”
As we chatted, I explained my run was not a strategy but was my survival.
We do the best we can with what we’ve been given.
The pain I am feeling from last weekend’s FBFW half marathon run as I write this reminds me that I tempt fate. I also realize that at any point, this could be taken from me. Will I be okay with that fate? –The prognosis of not running to me is worse. So I trudge on.
There are no guarantees in this life. Or are there?
Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 6:16:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
This life is hard. It throws things at us that we never saw coming.
BUT, there are moments when you will be renewed; you will be the shiny, new, crystal “windshield.” Relish those moments—regain strength, breath in all that is good and pure and praiseworthy. Because, guess what?
Whether you are just trying to breathe, just needed a moment of rest and gritting out the uphill climb of that heart pumping, legs aching, body deteriorating and spirit dousing ascent and cannot even see the summit , OR
If you have ascended from that valley, are breathing in the majesty of God’s peaks, mountaintops and towers of glory, OR
Maybe you are gliding the downhill slope and breathing in with ease as if the wind itself is propelling you effortlessly through the moments of this life and you can enjoy some peace and rest;
My hope is that; wherever you find yourself, the valley, the peak or the slope of life, you take in a deep breath and PRESS ON!
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
PEAKS AND VALLEYS