It took a week but the body has finally recovered from the 13 mile race with the exception of some scabs. In mentioning that Kara and I had participated in this obstacle course race, I receive a variety of responses. Some were impressed, but most had an expression that said, ‘What were you thinking doing such a thing at your age?’ Even my mother chimed in and told me to move on to other activities that are kinder and gentler on the body. I should stop crawling in the mud under barbed wire.
Right now I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve dropped some weight. I changed my diet. I routinely exercise. And I credit the obstacle course races by giving me a challenge. They challenge me in ways I haven’t been challenged. The last obstacle course race had 30 obstacles. I was able to complete 28. As soon as I finished I began thinking of how I will accomplish those two obstacles next time. What do I need to do in my training to complete those obstacles? How do I challenge myself in my workouts to grow in strength and ability?
Over the past couple of weeks I had multiple encounters with podcasts, a book and social media that spoke of challenge and its importance. In essence they said, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. It’s the idea that a challenge should not be easy. A challenge should cause you to reach deep inside yourself and discover who you are. Those challenges can be more than physical. There are a variety of challenges. Overcoming an addiction is a challenge. Working on an academic degree is a challenge. We grow when challenged.
Part of the sabbatical is a challenge. Of course there are the physical challenges I mentioned, but I have been challenging myself in other ways: daily reading scripture, journaling and being in contemplative prayer. And anyone who knows me knows that contemplative prayer for a period of time is a challenge. Traveling to new places, experiencing different cultures, languages and customs is also challenging. It will cause discomfort, but that’s how we grow by moving out of our safe space and being challenged.