Get Up Soldier - You're in a War
Updated: Feb 28, 2018
Have you ever been tired? No, I mean like really tired, and I'm not talking about the kind of tired from not having enough sleep. I'm talking about the life kind of tired. The kind of tired where you wake up tired, go through the day tired, go to sleep tired. This is the kind of tired I'm talking about.
Well, this was the kind of tired I was having on this particular day.
It comes from, not days, but years of grinding. We've all heard the motivational pitches, "Rise and Grind!" All that stuff sounds great when you're in a packed arena with people pumped full of energy drinks and extra shots of espresso from Starbucks all yelling in unison, "If I can believe it, I can achieve it!"
Raaaaahhhhhhh.....I am a beast. Now here me roar!
But then you go home away from the cheers and chanting and life begins to really stick the GRIND to you, and it's in these moments you get to find out what the GRIND is really all about. We all love to start things and we love the applause that comes with finishing, but there's something about that ugly middle that devours people like a plague.
I was listening to David Goggins one day, the guy who's been dubbed the "world's toughest man", talk about how he ran his first 100 mile marathon with basically no training. He was overweight and at the time was only running a few miles here and there. At mile 70 his bones in his feet were broken, he was peeing blood, he had pooped "his pack" and his body was shutting down. But, he said he began to think about all the pain he had been through growing up, or as he called it "the suck in life", and something in him caused him to not just push past the pain, but learn how to embrace it. "Embrace the suck in life" as he calls it.
I finished listening to him, and I was ready! I was motivated. Yeah, baaabeeeey, I was going to do my first 50 mile race. I was ready to start my training. I put on my running gear, slapped on my headphones, jacked up the workout jams as loud as they would go and I took off running with the base pumping - certain that I looked like an Olympian runner, warrior, or highly motivating at least to the overweight people who never worked out that drove by in their cars and wished they could be as awesome as me! I felt the energy rising through my blood and my muscles increasing to warrior status as I ran through the streets with the wind in my hair. There was bounce in my ounce for sure!
Just push past the pain Julie. That's all it takes. David Goggins did it, and so can you. It's all mind over matter.
Well, and that's true, but it's that daggone mind part that gets us. After running for about an hour, which at a 9'ish 10 minute mile means I ran about six miles. That's when the matter at hand started trying to take over my mind.
Six miles....I'm feeling a little tired. Hmmm, I would still have 44 more miles to go. That's a whole lot of running. How long would that take me to do? Why does this 50 miler really matter to you? I mean, what's the point? He's like a professional athlete. That's what he does full time. You have a job and kids....and you're a writer. You're not the world's toughest woman and you're not trying to be so why would you want to put in all this time and training for this? What's your why? Why...why do we want to do this?
Then mind tried to take back over the matter.
You're gonna do this because you will feel awesome when you finish. People will be envious of your warrior stamina. It will prepare you for the battles of life. Mind over matter. Mind over matter. You are a warrior. Just push past the pain!
Then I thought about what Goggins said, "Embrace the suck". Again, it sounded really cool and inspiring when I listened to it on YouTube, but when he said "suck" that's exactly what it means. Sometimes (more like a lot of times) when you are breaking out of the well worn path, when you are doing something most other people aren't doing, there are times when it just plain sucks. Don't let all those happy little clappy people lie to you. No, sometimes it really does just suck!
This is coming from a man who ran eight 100-mile ultra-marathons eight weekends in a row and yet says he "hates running". When Goggins was asked why he runs if he hates it, he said it prepares him for life. Food for thought, eh?
So, on this particular day I was having one of those "suck" moments that come from running the endurance race called life. Although, I wasn't exactly embracing the suck. I had been on my grind for some years, and the soil had been rocky and hard. I had been toiling and laboring and planting seed, but compared to the vastness of my vision, the harvest seemed sparse - very sparse.
I was having what you could call a "moment" or maybe you could even call it a tantrum in my mind with God. I know God must be thinking, Somebody down there help my child. She is still in her terrible two's in her forties. But, I know why toddlers do it. Sometimes it just feels good to lay on the floor and scream really loud! I did it just the other day, and I have to admit it felt goooood.
So this is kind of how the tantrum before the screaming part went....
Is anything I'm doing even making a difference? I've been doing this how many years now? Where is my help? Where are my resources? If you don't send me some kind of help, some kind of support, something to show me my labor hasn't been in vain, if something doesn't drastically change in my life I'm not doing this anymore. I quit, you hear me, God? I quit!
So, as I sat on my bed covered with my snuggly blanket having my pity party, my nine-year-old son walked into the room. "Mom, I want you to come play with me," he said. I nonchalantly said, "Okay, in a little bit," thinking I would pacify him enough to leave me alone until he forgot about it so I could hibernate back into my self loathing.
But he kept persisting. "C'mon mom, I want you to play with me."
"All right, I will in a little bit."
"Noooo, now," he said as he pulled my blanket off of me.
"Okay, buddy, in a little bit."
He was not taking no or later for an answer. He then grabbed my arm and with my dead weight laying on the bed he began pulling me off it. I plunked onto the floor and started laughing, but still I was bound by my mental paralysis.
He grabbed my arm again and like a soldier pulling one of his injured comrades off the battlefield he began dragging me across the floor out of my room. He looked down at me and began to bark his orders:
"Get up soldier! You're in a war! If you stop believing you die! But if you keep believing and trust in God you'll have the victory." My son had no idea the war that was waging in my mind only moments prior to him dragging my wounded soul across the battlefield (I mean bedroom floor). But isn't it funny how God knows just what to send us when we need it. Needless to say, I got up and played with my son, and just by getting up and that little bit of seemingly insignificant movement and laughter was enough to jar me out of my hypnotic state of wanting to quit.
The following week, after finishing my morning run with my running group at the men's prison one of the correctional officers said to me, "You're making a difference. You've been able to do more with these guys then anybody else I've seen come in here. I'm actually surprised by it." Then that same week movement came to a couple other areas of my life that had seemed stagnant.
This officer's comments to me made me think of Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
At times it can feel like we are working and grinding, and praying and hoping, and sacrificing for something, but hardly anything is changing or moving.
It's kind of like the bamboo tree. In the first four years it hardly breaks ground, yet it has to be watered, and fertilized and nurtured to on an almost daily basis. However, in the fifth year it grows up to 90 feet in just six weeks. This is what we call the "overnight success" stories, of which most successful people will laugh and say, "Yeah, my overnight success only took me 10 years."
That's because the world sees the person's success in the fifth year of growth, not the four years below ground, behind the scenes, outside of the spotlight, grueling labor, monotonous daily grind that it took them to get the "sudden growth".
What if the person tending to the bamboo tree said at the very end of the four years, "You know what, I've been tending to this thing for four years now and haven't noticed hardly any growth. I'm not going to water or tend to this anymore. It's a waste of time." They would have let their seed that was just about to sprout die.
We've all heard the saying that it's darkest just before dawn, but how true that saying is. How many entrepreneurs, singers, writers, dancers, engineers, doctors, inventors....quit right before their breakthrough? Maybe the cure for cancer was in somebody's bamboo tree that they stopped watering.
Let's face it, whether you want to be an entrepreneur, a professional athlete, a doctor, a musician, a writer or are content doing the nine-to-five thing, we are all in some kind of war. That war might be battling an addiction, maybe it's depression or an eating disorder. Maybe you're war is trying to save your marriage or a rebellious child. Maybe you're war is your ministry or non-profit. Or maybe you're war is getting out of generational poverty and dysfunction. Either way, at times we all get tired and feel like giving up.
But it's at those moments when you feel the most tired and feel like quitting, you have to get up!
Victor Frankly a Holocaust survivor once said that those who had lost hope and had nothing to live for died first in the concentrations camps. Just like my son said, "If you stop believing you die." So don't stop believing. You can and you will have victory in whatever war you may find yourself battling. Now, get up soldier!