Years ago, my dad and I used to run together every morning. We ran a few 5Ks and tossed in some 10Ks and a couple half-marathons. The Los Angeles Marathon was coming up, and even though Dad’s schedule didn’t allow time for him to train, I decided to go for it.
Hitting the Wall
I had only one concern—“hitting the wall.” Marathon runners will tell you that hitting the wall feels like a near-death experience because the body’s store of energy is totally depleted and the body begins to shut down. Some marathoners limp, others fall or pass out, a few shake uncontrollably. The physical fatigue is flat-out miserable—and that’s not counting the mental struggle between choosing to collapse or move forward. As a result, one must mentally push on and force the body to follow . . . mind over matter.
Race day came, and I did everything runners do to avoid hitting the wall. I grabbed water at every mile marker, gobbled on bits of nutrition bars, and got a good pace established.
All was well . . . until mile 16.
Unexpectedly, I smacked square into the wall. I slowed my pace, asked my friend and fellow runner to slow down and walk with me, and fought hard to finish the race. Physically exhausted, I realized I had to focus on the final goal—finishing the race . . . and 10.2 miles later, I crossed that finish line and fell down with delight!
Other Walls in Life
Hitting the wall doesn’t just happen in marathons; it also happens in life. From out of the blue, having done all the right things, we can become totally depleted in soul.
How am I so sure? I hit one the other day.
The house was still and silent, as bits of dust sparkled through the sunlit window. I was reading a book my daughter gave me for Christmas about doing one brave act each day for a year. While flipping through the motivating, moving quotes, a swell of emotions surfaced. I swallowed, wishing I could suppress what was surfacing. Instead, I was engulfed with exhaustion. I hit the wall and a burst of wet sorrow spilled onto the page. Drizzly tears dampened the book’s cover, and my brave act for the day was admitting I needed rest and allowing tears to fall.
Help When Hitting the Wall
I don’t like asking for help, but quite simply, a number of life changes in 2014 had exhausted my physical, emotional, and spiritual resources. I couldn’t keep running or distracting myself; my soul needed to be replenished. In the silence, I reflected on the marathon many years back and what it took to finish the race.
- I asked for help.
- I slowed my pace.
- I focused on the eternal finish line.
- I took walks.
- I asked God to fortify my soul as only He can do.
Just as I was working through the silence, I received an e-mail from my son who was also hitting the wall. 2014 was a non-stop year for him as well.
It’s me, Jon! I am in my teacher’s office and I’m really sad and I came in here so I could cry in private. My teacher told me that many people have some of the feelings and life changes like I have had—but not all at one time and life is hard sometimes! She said that I am doing great and that she is proud of me. We talked about some good things, and she let me cry too. I love you! Thanks, Mom!
At some point in time, we all hit walls—maybe right now you or a close friend is hitting some kind of wall. How do you handle such hardships? Those who have hit walls before understand the experience without being told the details. We just . . . get it. Have you allowed the walls you hit to impact your soul? Are you able to help another who has depleted his or her spiritual, emotional, or physical reserves? Maybe your one brave act today is to let go and hit the wall, be vulnerable, and ask for help. Or maybe it’s time to embrace one who needs help.
Either way, hitting the wall requires a few steps to make it to the finish line. Remember?
- Ask for help.
- Slow our pace.
- Focus on the eternal finish line.
- Take walks.
- Ask God to fortify our souls as only He can do.
Let Me Hear from You
What is your one brave act today? Sometimes courage or bravery doesn’t show up like a mighty, majestic, fierce fortification; it shows up when we slow down and let silence surround us. I wrote my son back and told him he wasn’t alone, I was so proud of him, he was going to make it, and that I loved him deeply. I say the same to you.
As we look toward the finish line, what is your one brave act today?
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