“Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is a greater. Possession pampers the mind; privation trains and strengthens it.” – William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer & literary critic
Have you ever heard of the saying “no pain, no gain”? It seems to summarize the universal truth that you can’t get something for nothing, that anything good usually comes from sacrifice, and that strength can only come when you exercise your muscles, be they physical, emotional or spiritual. I myself am learning this truth, as five weeks ago I embarked on a 10 week boot camp of sorts to get both my body and my health back.
I knew that it would be hard. I knew that it would hurt. And I knew that I would want to quit as soon as I felt that what I was sacrificing seemed too great. But then I remember looking in the mirror. I remember being so tired that a simple meal would want me to take a nap. I would remember having difficulty walking up the stairs. And finally, I would remember that this is not who I was designed to be. How can I possibly stand up for what is right, and be of strong mind, when my own body is betraying me because of the choices I had made? I wanted to make a different choice this time. Pain now, for strength later. Sacrifice now, for rewards later. It was time challenge myself.
Pain and sacrifice are indeed what I chose. Due to my evening schedule, the only option for this non-morning gal was an early morning workout. I had to commit to six days a week. I had to pack a bag every night so that I could shower and change at work. I had to commit to a completely different food regime, replacing my processed foods with whole foods. I had to take the time to actually eat six times a day. And I had to accept that I would be sore on a pretty consistent basis as my body woke up to the fact that complacency was no longer an option. My whole being cried out for sleeping in late, for comfort foods, for less muscle pain. But I refused to indulge the temptation. I wanted something better and I was finally willing to sacrifice what was needed to get it.
It has been five weeks. It hasn’t been easy. As I write this today my hind quarters still unable to sit on anything other than a comfy couch. Oh, goodness, who knew that there were muscles THERE?! Be that as it may, in my pain I have truly seen more gain. I am feeling myself getting stronger. I’ve lost inches. I sleep soundly at night. I feel more alive. My lifestyle is changing for the better and I’m finally seeing proof that the sacrifice was worth it. In the very pain I endure, I also see encouragement and reward. But none of it would have happened unless first a risk was taken and the choice made for pain and sacrifice.
Throughout this process I am finally starting to understand why so many people chose the easy, instead of the better, path. When faced with a decision between the two, the better path always seems to be the one that requires more hard work, more pain, and less comfort. Not exactly a person’s typical default choice – we are all human after all, right? However, what seems to be lost on those who choose the easy path is the fact that the hard work itself is what makes life easier in the long run. We earn our strength in painful steps, giving ourselves the increased ability to not only endure life’s struggles and hardships, but stand tall despite them. It is truly a false sense of security to think that we can always rely on others to sacrifice in order to make life easier for us –eventually we will find out that life doesn’t work that way and unless we learn to do it ourselves our weakness will be our eventual undoing. Neither physical strength nor strength of character is a thing that can be forged through easy comfort, but through sacrificial pain.
I choose strength and its required sacrifice. What choices are you making?
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C .S. Lewis (1898-1963) Irish writer and author of many books, including The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters