Doing Hard Things

There’s that mythical statement that gets tossed around that people try to use to comfort folks and say, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” False.  God puts us in situations and gives us more than we can handle constantly! Not as some cruel trick or to play puppet master, but to strengthen our reliance on Him.  And I think too, that extra reminder we need sometimes to put and keep Him first in our lives.

There is absolutely nothing normal about my life anymore, in fact, it’s not even a setting on the dryer in our new home because you’ve got to be a computer genius to even figure out how that silly newfangled machine works!  It’s well established fact that I don’t do change gracefully, but when you take a number my lesser-loved responsibilities, toss on some new ones, and heap on a whole new world of challenges, well, life is going to get a little bit rocky as we navigate back to center.  We have had to make difficult decisions, stand firm, and it’s just no fun being the new guys.  I’m not used to spending all day in the office, but that’s life right now until things get a grip—I’m much more used to being out and about in the community.  It will happen.

And that’s just our professional life!

Then let’s throw in this whole idea of actually giving a rip about myself for once in my life.  Now we’re just juggling chainsaws.  I made the conscious choice that in this transition and moving process I wasn’t going to allow myself the compromise of priorities, and over the last few years, I’ve learned that this pursuit of holistic health is a priority.  It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.  I don’t run circles of effectiveness and efficiency around my former self for fits and giggles, it’s the byproduct of obedience to God’s will for me, and I don’t take a second of it for granted.

There’s been a few wrenches thrown into that mix too…some may or may not be excuses on some level, but they are what they are at this point.  One-weather.  While temperatures don’t vary between Laughlin and Lake Havasu, wind is a different story.  Being a baby cyclist, my level of stupidity really only goes so far, and I’ve tested my limits.  Last weekend on a 30-mile ride, I broke free from my familiar zone and took to the highway—was cruising downhill at over 30MPH in gusting winds that were throwing me around like a pinball.  Let’s just say I decidedly don’t like riding alone (which I find interesting because I only like running alone), but I was grateful I had no one with me to witness the full-on panic attack I was having for that couple mile stretch until I hit flat road again and could safely pull out of traffic and off the road and stop shaking and recover from all of the other panic symptoms I was experiencing.  Needless to say, that trick only happens once.  And I didn’t become roadkill.  Running has been good, all I can say is….hills, hills, hills! I’m going to have some rockin’ legs!  Swimming…well…my wetsuit for open water swimming just arrived yesterday!  Now my husband just needs to come kayak with me as I swim or I need to find another equally as mentally unstable swim partner to go hit the river.  Open water swim, here I come!

Things have been hard on me a bit because I’m playing a really good body vs mind game right now, and it seems like a moment by moment nail biter on who’s winning.  My body has reached critical action time on an issue that I’ve dealt with for many years and have been toying with getting taken care of the last couple, but just haven’t found the right surgeon that I’m comfortable with in their surgical plans.  There’s one more in Lake Havasu I’m going to meet with and I am also going to have a consultation at Mayo Clinic, but it’s time to stop this ferritin storage disorder once and for all, suck it up, and get the hysterectomy to correct the source of the problem.  I’ve had ups and downs over the last couple years with some of my different iron and ferritin panels that I get pulled often, but I’ve never been as far in the tank as I am now, and even the doctor is only using some mega-dosing of some iron treatments vs transfusion right now as a stop-gap to see how quickly I might get in for consultation and surgery.  It’s bad enough I can barely keep my eyes open the moment I wake up in the morning and some other issues…the doctor isn’t quite sure how I am functioning to work and train, and if I keep going, it can have dire effects on not only my training, but my overall health.  But her and I both know the answer to how I’m still going as she’s supported me on this journey too—it’s God.

It would be really easy to take this physical weakness right now and use it as an excuse, but here’s the thing, it’s almost doing the opposite for me and that’s where the big mind game comes in.  I feel terrible all the time right now—I am doing my best not to be a whiner about it, but exhausted doesn’t even seem the appropriate term.  It doesn’t even scratch the surface.  However, when I’m working out, I feel invincible.  I feel strong.  I feel like I could go on forever, and I don’t necessarily want to stop…most of the time it’s dictated by the clock these days, not my want to quit.  My last two bike rides of 20 and 30 miles? They felt like nothing at all…like bafflingly bizarre.  The sore factor just wasn’t there.  Sure, I can see building “some” strength and improving, bbbuuuttttt not like that.  Runs?  I’m not really setting land speed records or anything, but the stamina is there to just keep going.

It’s fascinating to me…I’m not sure how that is playing out for me right now, but it is teaching me something.  I am capable.  I have big dreams.  I have lofty goals.  I want to accomplish a lot athletically and I think (I know) I sell my abilities short more often than not.  I don’t really know where that fear comes from, but it’s there, so I’ll own it.  While I still have some doubts and some well-placed fears for my upcoming cycling event next weekend, I know I’ll finish and it will be a great experience.  I know I’ll have some fun, and I know that I’ll learn a lot.  My upcoming half marathon, I’m actually pretty confident there—the course and training, I’m set up for a decent PR I believe.  It should be good.

We all know I’m good at the mental games, and I would love to say that it stops at endurance sports, but unfortunately, we all know that Satan is a master at kicking us when we’re down and he’s got me right where he wants me.  In the midst of my struggling right now, he’s hit a few targets of mine I’m fighting hard to reinforce the defenses.  Again, in keeping those priorities, is time with my husband.  It’s been non-existent, unless you count conversations regarding the business of our ministry, which isn’t really edifying to one’s marriage in the long run alone.  I was doing the math as I was getting on the interstate back to Laughlin yesterday and realized it had been weeks prior to even moving that we had a night out to ourselves that was just “ours,” a date night, if you will.  I just decided in the moment that I wasn’t cooking dinner and called my husband and told him to pick a restaurant and we were going out to spend time together when I got home.  Our relationship, our marriage, is and always will be a priority.

Another is loneliness.  I was so grateful yesterday to have the opportunity just to send a few messages and receive good advice and have a couple conversations with friends face-to-face.  I won’t even cop to how many times I got back in my car running around town that I burst into tears of gratitude (…and probably exhaustion).  Ministry is not for the faint of heart, and since I’ve been chained to my office, I’ve only had limited chances to get out and meet people and try to make some new friends here—other than my service club membership, which thankfully I get to see those folks twice a week, I just have not had a chance to even take a deep breath of fresh air yet.  For being an introverted person, I never realized how much I value that consistent human contact with so many people that I have come to know in community until I didn’t have it every day.  It’s lonely, and I feel a little lost without it until I get it built up again.  It will happen.

The moral of the story…other than just a giant vent is this: we can do hard things.  God has given me far beyond what I can handle right now, but I am at peace in it, because I know that it is handled.  I am human and can be and am frustrated in different parts of it, but as I continue to look to Him, He continues to show me each next step, each next right action to take.  One at a time.  Just as He’s done all along on this journey so far.  And I’ve got nothing to fear…except maybe a 40-mile bike ride, lol.

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