Do hard things, but do the other hard things, too.

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No Guts, No Glory! Pain is weakness leaving the body! Grind! No pain, no gain! We runners and fitness addicts see those words and more in memes every day.  They are also the mantras of people with addictive personalities.

Being able to push yourself hard, do the same thing over and over, ignore pain, focus on the task, throw out all extraneous thoughts, those are good things for some people. But for those of us with a tendency towards becoming addicted to things that make us feel good, it can be harmful, dangerous, exhausting, overwhelming, destructive. We can lose our grip on things that also matter very much but that provide less immediate gratification or endorphins or glory or even feelings of accomplishment. We can stop wanting to do the hard things in life. Hard things like deal with people, relationships, reality.

My day job is raising children, keeping house, taking care of my totally disabled, tube-fed, non-verbal, non-mobile child, homeschooling the two youngest children, dealing with a husband who has depressive tendencies, living on a very small income compared to the average American family, handling all the finances, planning meals, staying fit, managing my food allergies, dealing with depressive teens and young adults. It’s a hard job, but somebody’s gotta do it! That would be me.

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But I’d rather be running on trails, taking photos of nature, escaping into the woods, pushing my body physically on hills. This is what my brain tells me to do when I feel stressed. Go! Run ! Escape to the woods! But it’s irresponsible and unfair and selfish if I do it too much. I have people counting on me. So I must ignore that brain impulse. It’s as strong as a smoker’s urge to light up or any addiction. But with much healthier results, as long as you don’t hurt yourself, which I did. I’m injured. I ‘rested’ for a whole month. But I still walked and got on the elliptical. I didn’t really rest. Resting is SO hard for me. I have to move.

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This week was stressful. I escaped to the woods yesterday. I pushed myself on a one mile loop with a hill for four loops. My leg is sore now. But my brain is already making plans to go back there and see how many loops I can do next time. I’m really excited that this trail is only about an hour’s drive away . It’s the closest trail to me that has any hills or rocks. There is one other park  that is about 20 minutes from here, but it’s a very flat, easy path, not good for training. If I had my way, I’d move closer to “real” trails but I don’t have my way. I have God’s way. And to keep my mental peace, I need to accept that it is not God’s plan right now for me to live in the mountains or near trails.

That brings me back to the addictive personality. When I love something, I never want to stop doing it. I become a willing slave to it.  But I have to be fully aware of my weakness and surrender to the Lord’s will for me, not my addictions. God says we are to love him and love others. Those are his greatest commandments.  I love to do that on the trail and sometimes it happens. But I have to meet people where they are  and they are not always on the trail.

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