Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shoveling: An exercise in mental toughness

With as snowy a winter as we've had, it has been difficult to get out and train the way that I would like to, but one positive that has come from the snow is that it has provided a different type of training environment.  No, I'm not able to climb mountains and descend into valleys, but the snow has provided plenty of challenge.  I have a very large driveway so when it snows, it can be quite a feat to clear the driveway.  Last week's 12" snowfall was particularly challenging because not only was I going to be clearing my driveway, but two others as well.

By the time that I reached my third and final driveway, my muscles were aching from the snow shoveled earlier in the day and I was feeling quite tired.  But I saw this final driveway not only as an opportunity to help out a dear friend, but also as an exercise in mental toughness.  As I began to shovel my way towards the street, I said to myself, "there will be days this summer when I want to quit.  There will be days when the weather is dismal. There will be days when I'm sore and won't want to push myself on-wards towards my goal.  But I've got to find a way to do it.  I've got to persevere."  So I chose to pursue a different outlook on that third and final driveway of the day.  The conditions were worsening -- snow had changed over to rain weighing it down considerably, but I said to myself, "use this as a training ground for perseverance!"  One shovel-full at a time, I thought about my friend and visualized the distance to the end growing shorter.  Somehow the shoveling felt as though it became easier the more that I did this.

I made an important realization in shoveling that day.  Taking my focus off of myself and placing it instead on another provides all the strength and encouragement that I need in order to persevere.  Seeking the benefit of another purely for the purpose of their benefit brings with it a joy that makes anything possible.  It is the joy that Christ speaks of in John 15 when he commands his disciples to love one another.  It is also the joy that Paul speaks of in Philippians 2 where he exhorts believers to  be like-minded, having the same love, and being one in spirit as our Lord. It is the joy of a loving Father towards his beloved child and the joy of the child, who is the object of the Father's love for no other reason than the Father's delight in loving his child.  There is nothing that we can ever do to make the Father love us any more; there is nothing that we have ever done or could ever do that could make him love us any less.  In that, there is great blessing, great strength, and the greatest joy, "Such love has he given us that we should be called children of God" - 1 John 3:1

To live in that joy provides all the strength and perseverance that we could ever need.  It is the truth of that joy that will bring me though those days in life when giving in seems more appealing than soldiering on.