My Morning Cardio: Facing and Conquering “I Can’t” and “I Won’t”

I Didn’t Want to Go

I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go.

I was already out the door and into the cold morning, fully dressed and beginning my daily weekday walk-run (OK, jog). But I didn’t want to be there. I had just gotten out the door and was doing my brief warm-up stretches. All I wanted to do was walk back inside and throw in the towel.

This “I can’t” attitude came as no surprise. I was already off-kilter spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I hurt on the inside, which almost always exhausts, deflates and demotivates me. All I wanted to do was go back inside and try to soothe my innards. This had happened so many times before in my life, through the years, where I consistently and very predictably caved in and gave up each time my soul felt heavy-laden and burdened. I would way too often give up before I even really got started.

The Turning Point

This time, however, something was just a tad different. Somehow, despite the almost physically-tangible pull to turn around and go back home, I kept moving. I just keep moving. I walked with greater speed and intentionality, focused on gaining more and more distance between myself and the front door I had only minutes before emerged from. An intense desire to turn around and go back home persisted.

As I walked swiftly and intentionally, I talked to myself. I talked to God. I complained to myself and to Him. I shared my frustrations. I shared what was on my mind. The desire to turn around and go back home continued.

All the while I paid attention to the fact that I was still moving forward. I was still on the path to the STOP sign, my turn-around point. I didn’t think I’d make it there. I never really did push through before. Didn’t have much of any history of success to go on.

Nevertheless, this time I just kept going. In my head I was thinking, “I’m not that person anymore, the one who just caves in and makes excuses and even believes and defends the excuses. I have more insight now. I know what I want. I know my weaknesses. And I know my tricks. I have enough strength this time. I think I can do this.”

No Longer Buying into My Excuses

I knew I could give in at any moment. I knew of my history of not being able to rely on myself. I knew I could come up with excuses. But this time, a part of me knew that I would no longer buy into the excuses. At least I wouldn’t believe them or be fooled by them. The jig was up. I could no longer talk myself out of being responsible, out of being accountable. I knew that I would have to face myself in the days to come if I were to give up easily. I knew that if I were to give up easily, I would not be strengthened — and I NEED to be strengthened for what is and, I believe, what is to come.

If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you struggle in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?

Jeremiah 12:5 (NIV 1984)

My point is that, in reflecting on this message in Jeremiah, if I can’t be victorious in the simple things that are already in motion and require a bit of a push through, how will I manage with bigger challenges in any and all areas of my life? The time for strengthening is now, when I have actual training scheduled out and know exactly what needs to be done.

Cognizant of the Dangers of Downward Spirals

I knew the dangers of the beginning of a downward spiral. During Wednesday’s walk (two days ago), I had already caved in and returned home less than halfway to the STOP sign. I had already played the escape game with myself once this week. I had already made excuses and decided to go light because it was the middle of the week and maybe I should take it easy in the middle of the week. Anyway, given the gentle workout that I have and the spontaneously-convenient appearance of the feeble reasoning, I realized, upon reflection in these days, that I was just playing myself. One unwise workout relinquishment can easily lead to another and another until I give up on my morning walk-runs all together. It doesn’t take long to plummet. And if this habit were to fade away, that would be very, very sad.

So…

So…I kept going and kept going and I got to the STOP sign, then turned around and returned home.

I had done it. I had kept my promise to myself. I had kept my commitment. I had exercised my perseverance muscles, all the while talking to myself and talking with God and allowing space for my spirit to be more unencumbered, space for my mind and emotions to settle down, and room for my soul to be soothed and replenished. I had come out victorious.

Had This Ended in Defeat…

This story could have ended another way. I would have survived it, but there would have been casualties, namely defeat and disappointment with myself. Having not grabbed an opportunity to believe in myself, I would have remained in that degree of “I can’t” and “I won’t”. I would have betrayed this essential part of my plan to strengthen and fortify myself in all ways. I would have continued to reinforce weaknesses.

It would not have built me up — only contributed to tearing me down and threatening to keep me at status quo in this area. And I need building up, especially having started the day limping on the inside.

Sweet Victory

Victory. Sweet victory. It doesn’t have to come in big doses. The satisfaction of keeping simple promises to myself is often all I truly need.

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