As I begin writing this, I have been up for barely two hours. My muscles ache in places I haven’t felt before, I am chafed in places I shouldn’t be, and I’ve already eaten breakfast twice (and I am still ravenous.) I am so tired I will probably fall asleep before I finish this– and it’s only 9:30 a.m.
Physically. . .I am completely exhausted.
But emotionally and spiritually. . . I am 1000% energized.
I am feeling fully awake and wholly alive.
Because. . . I ran.
And, because I chose to run joyfully, despite the challenges I knew would soon be facing me.
I ran a long ways (16.96 miles),
on stunning-but-challenging trails,
through the woods,
on a beautiful fall day,
with a good friend by my side.
And even though my body was screaming at me to stop the nonsense of torturing it on these trails, my mind and spirit were screaming at me louder to trudge on. Because, in that moment. . .
Life was completely and ridiculously awesome.
I knew the pain that my body was going through was temporary.
I knew that when I was physically healed from the hours on the trail,
I would be stronger and more alive than before.
I knew this because I have learned that pain–whether it’s physical, spiritual, or emotional–is temporary. Nothing in this life is permanent, especially life itself. But, it’s so easy to forget that our pain will pass when we are are in the middle of a heart-wrenching or difficult situation.
I know. I’ve been there. Big time.
Yet, despite the messes of life–the heartache, the pain, the grief, you name it— I have come to realize that life is truly what you choose to make it. (I’ve written about this before but I believe it more and more as life goes on.)
As a very dear friend of mine says, even in the most painful moments of life, we can always find “joy in the mess” if we choose to. I agree with her one million percent.
It all depends you.
YOU choose the lens through which you view your life. You can choose to find joy in the mess or you can choose to always see the negative.
Either way, life goes on.
The negative school of thought though? That will get you absolutely nowhere except for stuck. . . smack dab in the middle of your pain. And that is where you’ll stay, stuck (and miserable besides.)
You can choose to be a victim of life’s circumstances or you can choose to thrive in spite of them.
It’s all up to you.
During my time on the trail, I could have chosen to be miserable. I could have complained incessantly about my aching knees and chafing body parts. I could have grumbled about every misstep and every mile marker that reminded me of how much race was still left.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t because I knew that by making the choice to dwell in the pain, I would miss the all of the joyful beauty surrounding me (not to mention making the run miserable for my friend.) If I would have focused solely on my pain, I would have missed. . .
the beauty of nature,
the joy of being able to physically move my body for long distances,
and the awesomeness of journeying through the woods with a supportive, positive, and good friend.
I focused on the joy of the trail and not on the mess of my physical state and eventually– despite a few moments of deep struggle–I emerged from the woods a little worse for the wear but definitely stronger and more energized with life. Whether it’s physically pushing through the pain of a difficult run or pushing through the emotional pain of grief (or some of the other heartaches I have experienced in this life) I can assure you that every single time I have chosen to find joy in the mess, the end result has been beautiful and worth it.
Despite the difficulties of seeing something other than my own pain.
So, no matter what you are struggling with right now, I challenge you to find something joyful in your life. Even though it may be really hard, focus on that joyful thing. You will find that your pain will lift, if only for a moment. It will. I promise. I know. And that tiny reprieve from your pain will create space for more joy. And more joy. And more joy.
Until choosing joy becomes second nature.
And then you’ll begin to seek it, despite your pain.
And then life gets better.
And you’ll wonder why you haven’t lived your entire life with a joyful lens.
And then, eventually. . .
You’ll emerge from your struggles,
stronger and more fully alive than ever before.
And that my friends, is a beautiful thing.
It’s up to you.
Choose joy or choose pain.
Either way, life goes on.
What will you make of it?