A few months ago, I started training with an acclaimed runner. She devised a running program for me on the treadmill. Under her guidance I followed a structured program designed to maximize my challenge. At the age of 45, following a running program posed challenges, but I embraced the difficulty with a love for the challenge.
One day, my running program consisted of intervals involving a speed of 12 for 30 seconds followed by a one-minute jump off the treadmill. This sequence lasting for 19 minutes. At first glance, the routine seemed quite simple, and I found pleasure in the contrast of short bursts of running and prolonged periods of rest. However, as the clock reached the 20-minute mark, the treadmill’s pace slowed to 11 and the workout took on a different dynamic. I now faced a 30-second jog at speed of 11 followed by a one-minute jump off the treadmill. This alteration brought a refreshing change, but my body’s response was not as enthusiastic. The heat of summer worsened my physical stress, and my mental resilience began to weaken.
In the midst of the burning challenge, my mind struggled with the temptation to surrender. The harsh heat of the season seemed to intensify my thoughts of quitting. Yet, a determined inner voice within me urged me to keep going. By the time the clock struck the 45-minute mark, the speed reduced to ten, initiating the final phase of the session. During those last 10 minutes, a sensation of fatigue hit me in such a way that it overwhelmed me, and the passage of time felt never ending, as if each minute was stretched into eternity. Although the remaining duration was short, it appeared endless.
Upon the completion of the session, I found myself bombarded by the intensity of my thoughts in the closing minutes centered on giving up. The mental struggle that I had while running on the treadmill worried me and I wondered how much worse it will be to overcome my thought patterns when running my different races in life including the spiritual race and the moral race which embodies among other things, taking care of my marriage and my family, namely my son Kurt as he forges his way in life with challenges coming from being on the autism spectrum.
Actually, in those last minutes on the treadmill, a spiritual vision unfolded before me—an image of my initial conversion, marked by passionate enthusiasm as I started the divine race set by God. I recall running with unlimited energy, a fervent readiness to serve Him wholeheartedly, and my enthusiasm was evident in every aspect of my life. It was both deep and refreshing! But as time passed by, the complexities of life along with the challenges of the spiritual realm made my once energetic joy decrease. The weight of these stressors, coupled with the fatigue that accompanied my dedicated service to God and the continuous spiritual attacks wore me down and stole my initial enthusiasm.
This is reminiscent of the different emotions and phases a mother who has a child with special needs or more. Most of these women experience some kind of ongoing emotional roller coaster where at some moments they are full of energy ready for the challenges they are bound to face as they learn to help their child to live with his or her disability (or disabilities), just like those first to minutes on the treadmill … and at many other times, they feel drained unable to undertake any task or give their children any care, no matter how effortless it might be.
I found myself bombarded by the intensity of my thoughts in the closing minutes centered on giving up. … In the midst of this internal struggle, a quiet whisper echoed within me: “You can do it. Lift your face up and keep running.”
While running on the treadmill, my imagination moved me to running in a battlefield, where fiery darts rained down around me, aiming to harm me and stop me from reaching my goal. Yet, I kept ordering my mind to keep my gaze fixated on God. It was hard to keep my eyes away from the fiery darts, just as it was hard to keep my eyes away from the treadmill timer. This made me realize the terrifying reality that my mind can play dirty games on me in my final battle. Chaos and conflict will be enormous; fearful thoughts or even fatigue might weaken my determination. I could sense how hard it will be to persist in keeping my focus firmly on God, my source of strength and on my all-other reasons to live including my duties as a wife and a mother.
In the midst of this internal struggle, a quiet whisper echoed within me: “You can do it. Lift your face up and keep running.” These words became my guide, urging me forward with renewed determination. This vision showed me that I should not take lightly what awaits us in the near future. The final part of this spiritual race demands a courage that emerges from a firm faith, a faith that exceeds the trials and tribulations of the world. The spiritual marathon will be a path filled with difficulty, yet one that holds the promise of divine reward for those who endure. I pray that we succeed in controlling our minds to triumph over the challenges that lie ahead and to receive the crown of life by God.