I’ve always been a dreamer, and, most of the time, an optimist. I come from a long line of dreamers. Optimists, not so much. So, I had to learn to be one. To choose joy and hope, to learn to see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize it is there to guide me. My mom was convinced the light at the end of the tunnel was that proverbial oncoming train and she always made effort to retreat, rather than to push forward, explore the terrain around her and move toward that ever welcoming light. That’s not an indictment against her, it was just her nature to believe the worst and try to steel herself against it. I’m not sure she realized that was her nature by choice, and that she could change it if she wanted. I chose not to be that person and it’s a choice I make daily. Sometimes, the light seems like it’s a long way off.
I’ve come to a valley in my training in the last few months. Physically, I feel like I’m light years away from who I want to be. I’m tired when I get up in the morning, I am sluggish throughout the day, and any efforts to run require a discipline that feels impossible somedays. Still, I push on.
If I’ve learned nothing else through running, I’ve learned this. There are seasons of great reward and seasons of great defeat. There are times when it’s easy and effortless, and times when a walk is a victory. There are valleys and there are hills. You have to successfully walk through the valleys in order to appreciate the view from the hills. Those dark walks through the valleys define us. They teach us who we are and what we’re made of. They teach us how to be the best we can be, how to live our lives with hope, discipline, and integrity. As in running, as in life.
Hopes, dreams, goals, confidence in the future are the stuff that a life is built on. They are what keep us trudging through the valleys, and looking up the side of the hill. Sometimes, when I look up the side of the hill, I’m afraid it’s insurmountable. I doubt my ability to climb, fear my strength won’t get me to the top. Then, I put one foot down, then, another, and on and on until I’m at the peak. The view is breathtaking from there and I want to sprint to the next one.
It really is that simple. Just one foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward. Know that God is with you, every step. Walking with you, encouraging you, guiding you, keeping you from stumbling, helping you get up when you do fall.
Right now, my steps are excruciatingly slow. But, they’re moving in the right direction. I’m paying close attention to my nutrition, which has been rather seriously derailed in the last few months. I’m eating well, resting well, and using that long ingrained discipline to make myself move most days. I’m ready to get out of this valley, but it seems for now that I’m stuck here. I can’t even see the side of the hill from here.
Good thing I know it’s there.
…I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27