There’s a hill on my neighborhood running route that mocks me. It’s a full quarter mile and starts at the end of my driveway. The bad thing is it goes downhill to start, so that means the very last quarter mile of every training run that I do in my neighborhood is straight uphill. I can maneuver my mileage so that I end up walking it at the end for a cool down, or I can bite the bullet and push hard for the last quarter mile up that blasted hill. When I do that, I could swear I hear it laughing at me. It’s wicked steep, and I’m pretty sure it knows that I hate it. The neighborhood route that I take is filled with hills, some easy, some hard; but the one at the end is killer. I. Hate. It.
The odd thing about it though, is that when I push hard at the end and make it up that infernal hill, I feel bullet proof. I feel that I can accomplish anything if I only set my mind to it. So, more often than not, I power through to the end, dreading it the entire run, but knowing that it will make me a better runner in the long term. And, feeling like a real bada** because I made it to the top.
Life is like that. Filled with hills and valleys. Some easy to wade through, others feeling like you’re plowing through quick sand. I’ve been climbing some hills over the last few months, and I’m ready to get to the top of them. Apparently, though, there are still lessons to be learned on them, because I’m still climbing.
I’m thankful for all the hills I’ve climbed in my life, because getting over them taught me something. They taught me that there will always be another hill, another challenge, another life lesson. And, they taught me that not only will I get to the top, I can do it victoriously. It’s my job to learn to dig deep and climb them with all the resources I can muster. They have also taught me that my resources run deeper than the hills are high.
I’ve recently finished rereading the letters of Paul, and started the book of James this week. What a great little book, chock full of wisdom, tucked into the middle of my New Testament. It begins with a verse that is hard to understand, until you’ve been there.
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
I’ve read this verse many times, and shared it here more than once, but, man, does it resonate with my soul. Just like the growth I achieve whenever my legs and lungs are tested against that horrendous hill; when my faith is tested, and troubles pile on for the ride, I know that I will grow and learn, becoming fully developed. It’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever be perfect or complete this side of heaven, but I know that my faith has grown over the years through the very trials that tested it. That gives me comfort and courage to face the next hills, because they are surely there, waiting just over the horizon.
I’m pushing past my comfort zone in a lot of ways these days. Hills are just one part of the equation. I’m learning to embrace the hills of my life, as I know they will bring me strength, physically and spiritually. It’s not comfortable, it hurts in a lot of ways. But, very slowly, step by step, hill by hill, I’m making progress.