Hearts Strengthened by Grace

It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace  –  from Hebrews 13:9

Meditations in Motion

I have to admit I have been weather-stalking this week. I have a 25k trail race on Saturday and this is the forecast. 90% chance of snow. Typically, this would not concern me. I might even be thrilled at the prospect of running in the woods for several hours during a snowstorm.

Like most trail runners, I find the concept of running in less-than-ideal conditions rather appealing. It makes the story-telling which occurs in the warm afterglow of the run more exciting. Runners standing around the heated fellowship hall have a “Whew! Look what we survived” mentality when we endure adversity. We have come through hardship together and emerged on the other side. A special bond has been formed.

This year is different for me. Wariness pervades my pre-race outlook. I am still battling a persistent hip injury. As my legs grow tired during a long run and my stride undergoes slight changes, the pain increases. Trail runners know that a 25k trail race is very unlikely to be 25k.

Meditations in Motion

My handy Google converter says that 25k is the equivalent of 15.5343 miles. Last year the course measured 16.8 miles. “More run for your money!” is the slogan of the evil race director.

No, the race director is a really a nice guy, but I don’t want more run for my money this year. I worry about finishing.

In the midst of this mental turmoil I came across this quote by Mastin Kipp: “Find gratitude for the struggle. Grace can be found in the hardest and most challenging moments of our lives.” What a concept – find gratitude for the struggle. Thinking about it changed my perspective of the upcoming race.

Meditations in Motion

Last New Year’s Day my middle son, who was home visiting for the holidays, helped me set up this blog. My first post was about gratitude. It is interesting to see how life has a way of changing you. And me.

Many of my thoughts on gratitude are exactly the same as last year, but last year at this time, I thought I was beating the nagging hip injury that had plagued me since the previous summer. My running was improving after a disappointing autumn racing season and I was looking forward to my favorite trail race (the same one I am doing this weekend) with excited anticipation.

This year has seen the injury return with a vengeance. Running is different than it was last year, slower, more painful, less certain, but I have grown to appreciate it more. The experience is richer, more meaningful, more satisfying. My gratitude quotient has increased.

It’s funny how easily we slip into the mindset of taking things for granted. Oh, I was always grateful to be able to run. As I get older, it is easy to see the number of women in my age group at races dwindling. I am fortunate to have the health, the financial resources, and the stubborn nature that keeps me going, but the concept of being grateful for the setbacks, the struggle, the challenging moments never occurred to me.

And yet. And yet, I cannot deny that the setbacks have changed me for the better. They have forced me to grow. Facing a challenge has actually given me a more positive outlook, not only toward running but in many areas in my life. It has made me more compassionate towards those who are struggling and we all struggle with something.

Facing this challenge has made me think about other areas of my life that I may take for granted – my health, my relationships, my faith. Complacency becomes comfortable. Appreciation is easy to forget to give but so welcome to receive.

Meditations in Motion

Dealing with challenges makes you appreciate the hardships of others. Understanding is the first step toward empathy. Compassion often results in extending a helping hand, which builds social networks. Building social networks brings resilience. A cascade of positive results begins with facing adversity. More setbacks mean more opportunities for growth.

Meditations in Motion

Just as in weight training, where you must first break down muscles in order to build them up to be stronger, hardships help build up our emotional muscles to give us a stronger spirit. Maybe that is what Mastin Kipp refers to as grace.

Grace is found in being broken down and built up as a new, stronger, more resilient being. It is found in having an open heart, an accepting spirit. Grace begins with understanding, at least dimly, that we are all in this together. We all face suffering; we have all had our hearts broken. We are stronger when we help each other overcome sorrow.

Yes, I am grateful for the adversity that has brought me to this point in my life. I welcome the difficulties and the increased compassion they bring. I look for the grace that comes with the challenging moments in life.

Meditations in Motion

I must admit, however, that I still do not welcome the thought of snow on Saturday. Maybe there could be grace and growth without snow. No snow is something I would really be grateful for.

 

I am linking up with Jessica and Amy at Live Life Well, Fairytales and Fitness for Friday 5, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Spiritual Sundays for Welcome, Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth, The Blended Blog for Friday Loves, and Counting My Blessings for Faith ‘n Friends.

 

 

 

 

 

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48 comments

  1. LOL at your closing paragraph. I’m afraid I think you’re SOL for the snowstorm — unless they have things REALLY wrong, which is often true, but I’m guessing not this weekend. Then again for us, the snow isn’t supposed to start til evening.

    I never welcome snow. Ever. Maybe I need to meditate some on that. I’m lucky that I’ll be able to mostly work around that – I’ll be running through a little snow today, no doubt, but aside from some cold feet, I think I’ll feel fine.

    I hope your race goes better than expected! Good luck with that snow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are still supposed to get snow, sleet, and freezing rain here in PA, but in MD, where the race is located, they have changed the forecast to mostly rain. I don’t really think that is an improvement. Rain and 36 degrees? Ugh!

      Thank you for your good wishes, Judy. I will let you know how the race goes!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I have often thought that my chronic back situation makes me much more compassionate with those who suffer. If it were not for my own weakness, I think I would have a hard time extending grace and sympathy to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have not had too much snow (yet), but lots of rain. the forecast for tomorrow has actually changed to mostly rain. Keeping my fingers crossed! I will be careful. Thanks!

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  3. I know the weather forecast is pretty bleak for this weekend, but I think the “worst” of the storm will be Saturday night into Sunday so I hope that the weather holds out for your race. Good Luck tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am hoping we can finish running and drive home before the storm hits. Actually, the forecast for MD has changed to mostly rain, so maybe I will get wet, rather than snowed on! Thanks for the good wishes!

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  4. You’re brave to venture out with a sore hip into the snow! Your gratitude of thoughts for the challenge is inspiring. I’ll keep my prayers and thoughts with you as you head out this weekend and conquer the run. You’ll do it, I hope so without further injury! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice! Spending a snowy weekend snuggled up at home sounds wonderful. The snow is not supposed to begin here until tomorrow afternoon. I am hoping we have time to run and drive home before it begins.

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  5. Just perfect! Funny enough my next blog may revolve around a slogan a golfing buddy gave me: “Embrace the Struggle” when I was personally bereft about the challenges of the golf game. I wish I could say it was about mountain climbing or trail running ha ha!

    The reason why struggle is vital to our personal character and soul growth is outlined so perfectly and beautifully in this post. I have become a wiser more compassionate person due to the pain and struggles I have gone through. As a result, I have more empathy.

    Good luck in your race – you trail runners are a hardy bunch! What would be the fun trying to reach personal goals if everything was easy peasy? 😂.

    Susan Grace

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, so funny! About 10 years ago, I took golf lessons. All of my sons play, along with my hubby. I thought maybe I could join them, but I am not a golfer. I play a few times a year, and that is enough for me!

      Thank you for your good wishes on the race. It will be a challenge. I will try to appreciate the growth!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your insight here has given me food for thought as I have had many setbacks. The older I become the more I see of those physical ones. The heart is filled with sorrow due to recently losing Kenneth, my husband of 25 years. Yet, the grace that God rains upon me (snows upon me maybe) reassures me that He knows all and is right here with me for always. I, too, am learning and desiring to grow in the Lord. So grateful no matter what the path may be. I can no longer run but God has given me other ways in which to exercise, be outdoors, and feel better. He also gives me strength to accept that which I can no longer do or be. Forever grateful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your husband. Blessings to you! I hope that God showers His blessings on you and that you do grow in the Lord. Gratitude is a wonderful way to begin. Sending love and hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I wouldn’t typically appreciate adversity either but you’re right . Like a prairie that’s been burned, we come back stronger. And m ore grateful. Post Malone’s lyrics come to mind: “Everybody’s blind when the view’s amazing” Through hardship we take less for granted. Have fun on the snowy trails!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. As I head into what may be a challenging adventure of my own this weekend (though not a race in the snow — hats off to you), I’m hanging onto your inspirational words: “A cascade of positive results begins with facing adversity.”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Gosh, Laurie. it’s like you and I are living parallel lives 😉 I kept nodding my head and agreeing with every statement you made about gratitude and being “broken down” and experiencing empathy for others. This articulates EXACTLY what I experienced in 2017 following my surgery. Having the act of running taken from me for three months really made me appreciate it so much more when I came back. For me, gratitude feels so much better than bitterness. Thanks for another great post!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great post Laurie, yes I agree adversity & challenges can bring empathy & understanding for others…if we allow it 😉 …& that in itself can be challenging for many.
    Appreciation & gratitude is always a great habit!

    We are in a heat wave here in Australia! So snow sounds sooo nice & cool 😀
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

      • I wondered how it went Laurie – I just got online a short time ago … glad the precip held off, but sorry to hear the hip was a big issue. You only have that one run in the immediate future that you mentioned the other day and the rest of the time, maybe you can just walk or do much shorter runs while on vacation?

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Can I request you do an article on how you maintain your energy? Running in adverse conditions whether it be bad weather or pain would tend to drain the energy right out of a person, and yet you continue. I understand the grateful attitude makes you want to continue to start races and finish races, but when you’re in the middle of the route, how do you summon the energy it takes to keep going?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I so miss running & all the challenges that comes with it.. .but I never ran in the snow. I’m too clumsy & I’ll slip on anything so I just stuck to the treadmill on snowy days.
    Hope that hip of your is getting better & better!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry that you are missing running. It was very muddy and icy out on the trails today, but we took it slow and had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, my hip was a problem today. I think I am going to have to stick to shorter runs for a while. Thank you!

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  13. This makes me think of process not product. Slowing down does give us more open space for gratitude. It also gives us a chance to find contentment. The wood you have pictured is so beautiful. It must be so quiet and peaceful there all filled with snow like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve spent enough time around long distance runners to understand the “bring it on…look what we survived” attitude. It’s something that makes a great runner I think. Persistence…seeing what you think is your breaking point and then pushing past it. You’re incredible. I’m so sorry about your hip injury. Although I’ve seen you write about it often, I didn’t realize just how long it has been going on. I hope that you are able to experience healing of your hip, even through the training. I’m sure you’re seeing a specialist.

    As always, you have an uplifting attitude and enouraging spirit. I hope the snow held off and you found more joy than pain in your run. Thank you for sharing with us at #liveLifeWell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your very kind comments, Jessica. I think runners as a breed are just pretty headstrong and stubborn. The snow did hold off and the race was really fun. Thanks for the chance to share!

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