Running in the rain is one of my favorite ways to exercise. During my time in the military we ran three days a week but mentally I struggled to catch up. It hurt, I’d tell myself as my feet pounded the pavement. Others around me were better at it. I’d never be able to keep the pace. Four miles lasted FOREVER! My mentality was simple, “I can’t do it. I’m not good enough.” In other words, as our Platoon Sergeant was pushing our endurance I was mentally beating myself to a pulp. This went on for almost two years and then a day came that we ran in the rain and I found my happy place.
Others around me began to moan and complain as droplets turned to a downpour. Instead of joining my battle buddies in discontent I smiled, feeling myself settle into a calm stride. I looked up instead of at my feet, glad the clouds were breaking over us. Negative thoughts turned to determination, I felt my spirits lift as I ignored the added weight of my soaked uniform. Why those raindrops pounding down on my face made a difference I’ll never know, but with each step I was strengthened and found myself enjoying the experience.
It’s been fifteen years since I exited the military and stopped running consistently. I admit that I feel a twinge of regret having let those years of physical training slip away. Still, the memories are present and have given me much to contemplate as the years passed.
The application from this experience can be made in other areas of life. Sometimes I feel like I’m cast adrift in a torrential downpour. In these moments, part of me understands that when the sun finally shines again I’ll have a better perspective and hopefully have been made stronger. Certainly, I became a better runner after realizing that I could perform to high expectations in a downpour. It seems silly now, but it was that experience that proved to me that running is much more mental than it ever was physical.
Life isn’t really any different. Sure, we’re called upon to bear physical burdens but often it’s our point of view that makes the experience hard or not. Today I found myself struggling with a temptation that consumed me. It’s not something I want in my life but it was hard for me to turn away. I spent more than thirty minutes in agony trying to decide if I’d embrace the want or turn hard and fast from the danger. Finally, with the help of someone who loves me deeply and serious prayer, I cast aside the desire.
Some moments later I was driving down the road and started to feel relief pour over me. Just as my breathing had leveled sunbeams burst through the clouds, blinding me. Not only had I felt personal relief with my choice but I chose to view that burst of sunlight as a heavenly applaud, I had succeeded in putting behind me something difficult.
My thoughts for you this week is this: take the storm clouds in stride, let the rain pour down around you and remember that with every forecast of rain there is inevitably a forecast for sunbeams as well.