There Will Be Pain

I came home two nights ago facing a choice. The choice was how to check off the 10-mile run on the training schedule. To make the choice, I chose to lay down on the bed to ponder (a hindsight look at the choice I ended up making).

As I saw it, I had three choices:

  1. Don’t
  2. Do it now while it’s 80 degrees
  3. Wait until morning, which meant the alarm would go off in time for me to hit the pavement by 4:30

Choice #1 quickly went away to avoid regret somewhere along the race route a week from Sunday. That left choosing between heat and sleep. Choosing heat meant getting it done but with much more strain. Choosing sleep meant getting less and running unfully rested. As usual, my mind ran away from heat strain choosing the dreaded early alarm. Neither sounded fun; both had pain levels more bearable than regret.

Achieving a goal, developing a discipline, and pursuing growth require sacrifice; and with sacrifice there will be pain. Committing to the pain may be half the battle of achieving, developing, and pursuing. Your commitment raises your chances of avoiding regret, knowing your sensible strain level, and rising to the challenge when doubts invade your mind.

When facing choices, maybe these questions can help:

  • How important is avoiding regret?
  • How much is too much?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice?

How to Respond to Injury

Recently I was given an audio copy of Bravo Two Zero, a military memoir by Andy McNab. McNab was the sergeant of an eight-member SAS regiment given a mission to Iraq, January 1991.

Today I listened to their situation after they were compromised and survived a fierce fight. As Sergeant McNab led them on an all-night evasive trek, he realized one of his men, Vince, was injured. Here’s a clip of McNab’s reaction:

The whole of the game is to get everyone over the border. Vince clearly had an injury. We’d have to do all our planning and considerations around the fact that he was in trouble. None of this, “No, it’s okay, Skipper, I’ll go on.” Because if you try to play the He-Man and don’t inform people of your injuries, you’re endangering the whole patrol. If they’re not aware of your problem, they can’t adjust the plan or cater for future eventualities. If you make sure people know that you’re injured, they can plan around it.

We can be part of various teams in life where we get injured do to fierce fighting-on the job, at the family reunion, in the stock market, even at church. And what Sergeant McNab said about Vince in Iraq is true for all the injured people and those on their teams.

  • The injured have to speak up. Otherwise, the whole team is in trouble. And they may be completely unaware unless the injured person speaks up.
  • The team has a responsibility to adjust. The whole of the game is to get everyone to the destination together, to stay unified in fulfilling the mission.  If that means slowing down to tweak the plan, then accept and commit to it. For the sake of the team and the mission, take the time to listen and adjust.

Playing the He-Man weakens the team. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps disrespects and distances your team. 

Are you injured? What is your injury? Which team member needs to know? Be courageous and let the tweaking begin.

Repentance Defined

I’ve been thinking about repentance this week. Read a @youversion plan. Heard a sermon.

I can’t say I’ve ever really considered how I would define it personally. I’ve always leaned on others’ definitions, such as this one from the @youversion plan:

Repentance isn’t doing something about our sin; it is admitting that we can’t do anything about our sin.

I like that one. Certainly puts my mind in the right direction. Less about my ability and more about my need.

Here are a few definitions I’ve written this week:

  • A repentant heart is a softened heart.
  • A repentant heart has turned away from the dark and turned toward the light (Jesus said he was the light).
  • Repentance is when I stop disagreeing with the truth (Jesus said he was the truth).
  • Repentance is possible when the light finally comes on.
  • Repentance begins when I accept my self-given excuses are lies. 

This is a good exercise-defining repentance. Give it a try and see what it does to your heart and to your relational status with the truth and the light.

Shortening the Lows 

Today is another big day in the life of Tom Brady. Just so happens, I came across an interview of him from last June on demand this afternoon. Seemed appropriate to check it out.

Regarding the outcomes of championships, he was asked two interesting questions: how high are the highs and how low are the lows. About the highs, he didn’t make any distinction from his different experiences of highs; they last the same. However, he answered differently about the lows. For example, when they lost the Super Bowl in 2007 he said his low lasted about a month. But when they lost last year to the Eagles, it was half the time, about two weeks. His explanation-stage of life. Last year he had his children to pay attention to, to help them understand what failure is and how to deal with it. Eleven years of personal development had shortened his low time (my paraphrase).

Trying to avoid the lows is like trying to avoid raindrops. Impossible. Failure happens. Disappointments come, some expected, some not. The opportunity we have is to choose how we respond to them.

I’ve noticed this myself. My lows have gotten shorter. The low in my 30s was almost twice as long as a low in my 40s. After that one, I determined to be more proactive in addressing my lows. I leaned into the verse about the sun not going down on your wrath (Ephesians 4:26) and looked at how that could apply to my lows. Interestingly, the lows continue to be shortened.

So what changed? What did I stop doing? What did I start doing? Here are a few things:

  • I stopped being too concerned about what people wanted from me or could do for me..I started being more concerned about what God wanted for me and what I could do for people.
  • I stopped allowing the decisions of others to determine my steps…I started listening more to the Holy Spirit to determine my steps.
  • I stopped giving self talk free reign…I started admonishing myself based on what truth God had for me.

And my lows continue to shorten. 

Want to shorten yours? Take some time and answer these two questions: 1)What do you need to stop? 2)What do you need to start? 

Make It Count

Then Mary took a pound of perfume, pure and expensive nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
John 12:3

Mary’s family had much to thank Jesus for. He had made it clear that he was the giver of life. She decided to do something extraordinary to show her love and worship.

  • Her choice was to anoint him.
  • Her choice was to give up something she’d being saving for herself.
  • Her choice was extravagant.
  • Her choice was a declaration.
  • Her choice was sacrificial.
  • Her choice was to have a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
  • Her choice was to make it count.

What do you have to thank Jesus for?
What choice would make it count?