In Mending Scars I shared about an injury that had been building up in my calf over time due to the lack of proper balance between running and providing good muscle maintenance – in other words, I had been doing a lot of running and not nearly enough maintenance. I knew the healing process was going to be painful, yet necessary. Because running is one of my favorite things to do and something I do not want to give up, I began the healing journey as quickly as possible.
I am happy to report that in less than two weeks, I was up and running again. My running was different, though, not because of the injury, but because of my response to the injury. I ran timidly. When a friend and I ran the trail at Afton (we ran the same route as the race I did not finish a few weeks earlier), I was very nervous that my calf would seize up on me again. When we hit the hills, I tried to change how I was running so that I put less stress on my calf. This made me run awkwardly and inefficiently. Finally, I reached a point where I knew I had to trust that my calf had reached the appropriate point of healing and that I was just going to have to go for it. That trail run became so much more fun at that point and I made it through the whole run without pain or injury.
When we get hurt – whether physically or emotionally – it can be scary to put ourselves in a position that may cause us to hurt, again. It seems like it would be better to not take the risk, and just stay in a seemingly safe place. If I never ran again, it would be highly unlikely that I would encounter a calf injury again. However, I also would be missing out on the joy God gives me through running. When I run alone, I have the wonderful opportunity to connect with God like no other time. When I run with friends, I experience encouragement, great conversation and some healthy competition.
The key to not getting hurt, again, is on-going maintenance. For a runner that means proper warm up and cool down and taking the time to stretch out the muscles so they aren’t strained to the point of injury. It also means including strength work in the training schedule. The key to not allowing emotional hurts to cause injury is another type of maintenance. The warm up and cool down is starting and ending your day in prayer, thanking God for His many blessings on your life and thanking Him for being with you at all times. It is incredible how much better your day is when you choose to focus on the things in your life for which you are grateful! Healthy emotional stretching comes when you think kindly toward others, offer grace when it is seemingly undeserved and consider the needs and point of view of others without judging. Sometimes stretching isn’t easy. You may be thinking of the guy that cut you off in traffic this morning. I am certain that if you choose to let the guy into your lane and smile, your mood will be so much better than if you choose to honk and swear at him. The strength training happens when you spend some time reading God’s Word. The Bible has so many wonderful verses of encouragement and guidance that help me look at the circumstances in my life from a much healthier perspective. You may recall the verse that started this whole thing was 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Choosing to focus on this verse made a huge difference in my attitude, and thus, my immediate response to the circumstances on the day of that injury. It was incredibly tempting to be angry and frustrated, but what would I have gained from that? The answer is nothing at all. Just a few weeks after this, the verse in Habakkuk reminded me that I don’t have to rely on my own strength, because my strength comes from the Lord – who will make my feet like deer’s feet in high places. This is greatly encouraging to me and I hope you are encouraged as well. With that being said, I think it’s time to go run some hills!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You that I do not have to rely on my own strength. If I did only that, I would not make it very far. With Your strength, I can climb mountains with confidence. Thank you for helping me be confident and sure footed as I walk (or run) through life with You. In Jesus’ name I pray – Amen.