Endurance for the Marathon We Didn’t Choose

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Recently I wrote about the unfortunate accident I had, in which I hurt my foot.

I was in great pain and uncertain of what whether I would need surgery, or to be in a cast and on crutches, when I wrote. All I knew was I had broken my bone in two places, “a complicated break,” the doctor who did the X-ray said.

That didn’t sound good to me. Though I feared the worst (surgery and extended recovery, a cast and crutches), I prayed and hoped for the best. I chose faith. I chose to focus on the good things that had also happened that week.

On Monday I found out the answer to both the uncertainty and the pain.

The pain was from the doctor at Immediate Care, where I got the X-ray done on Saturday. She should not have put my foot in a splint or Ace bandage. That was causing the excruciating pain, more pain than I’d ever felt (except probably childbirth—you really do forget that).

The minute the orthopedic surgeon removed the splint and bandage on Monday, my pain went from an 8 to a 3.

This doctor looked at my X-rays and foot and said a boot would be fine, and that I could bear weight on it even. Don’t need crutches or the walker!

To me it felt like a miracle. What I had prayed for and hoped for had happened. I would still need to slow down, still need to take good care of myself, still need to allow myself time to heal. But it was doable this way. I sensed I had lessons to learn, and that God had allowed just enough pain to get my attention and point out the lessons.

I share all this because so many of us are still living in pain and uncertainty of one kind or another. This global pandemic has not ended. We are in change and uncertainty for the long haul.

Whether we like it or not, we have all unwittingly been signed up for a marathon. A marathon is a race the requires training, pacing, endurance, and mental as well as physical toughness.

Many of us have had no training for this. We were thrown into this race and forced to run it. (And some of us have to find a way to run it in an orthopedic boot!)

In a marathon of your own choosing, you know exactly how far you will have to run. In this marathon, we have no idea how far or how long we will have to run.

Before I hurt myself, just three days before in fact, I had an Immanuel Prayer session and received these words: “You have much need for endurance, Dear One.” Little did I know.

But Jesus did. He saw ahead, and was full of compassion, calling me “Dear One.” He knew what it was like to have to endure on this earth, because he lived here too, for 33 years.

We all have much need for endurance. That is the name of the game. By now, 7 months into these Unprecedented Times, for most of us, our “surge capacity is depleted.”

In her article, Your Surge Capacity is Depleted—It’s Why You Feel So Awful, Tara Haelle defines surge capacity as “a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.” The problem is, pandemics are different than natural disasters, which occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. In a pandemic, the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.

“How do you adjust to an ever-changing situation where the ‘new normal’ is indefinite uncertainty?” she asks.

We all experience layers of this.

One layer is the layer we all live within: the things that are happening in the world to all of us. Then each of us has the layer of our own personal experience, and how the pandemic has affected that. Then there may be yet another layer, as with me: I am uncertain now of how long my foot will take to heal, and when I can get back to “normal.”

That “normal” will be different from before I hurt my foot, because it’s meant to be different. I’m meant to learn some lessons, such as to literally slow down. To be more in the present moment.

I’m determined to learn this lesson, so I won’t have to have something more severe happen to teach me. The pandemic didn’t slow me down much, so I guess I needed something more personalized.

Do you sense that there are lessons you are meant to learn from these unprecedented times? Please don’t try to “get back to normal.” Things really have changed. They were meant to change. To accept this is to open the door to innovation, to lessons learned, to endurance, to resilience.

Even, perhaps, to joy. To a deeper sense of yourself. And just maybe, also to a deeper sense of who God is. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been more aware of my own lack of control, and more needing faith in a good God who has not lost control of anything. (And he has not disappointed.)

As things open up and there can be the appearance of “getting back to normal,” I encourage you to pause and reflect. What has changed for you because of the pandemic that would be good to make permanent?

Realize that “there is much need for endurance, Dear One.” Uncertainty remains. We are still “trying to stand in a dinghy on rough seas (perhaps on crutches!), not knowing when the storm will pass.”

We don’t know when this marathon will end. We don’t know where the finish line is.

What ways can you build that needed endurance–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?

I encourage you to take some time to ponder this.

And if you need help, check out my coaching at HealingCodesCoaching.com.

Postscript: Sprinkle of Joy in the Midst

I can’t resist sharing a little story that happened to me, to highlight that there can be joy and even miracles in the midst of difficulties, as I wrote about last week.

When I was trying to find a doctor to see me, a helpful nurse from an Immediate Care center suggested I call VNA Health. “They charge much less than we do, and are good if you don’t have insurance.: (I don’t have have traditional insurance, I am part of a Christian health-care sharing ministry called Samaritan Ministries. So I’m in the “self-pay” category.)

I called VNA Health, and the earliest appointment I could get was October 13. I knew I couldn’t wait that long, but made the appointment anyway.

When I went to cancel it, I was on a phone in the MOST ANNOYING LOOP of a recording that just wouldn’t stop. The first time I called, I endured this for 15 minutes before I felt I was going crazy, and hung up. The second time I didn’t last that long.

I planned to just not keep the appointment, but that bugged my Highly Sensitive, conscientious nature. What if I was taking a spot someone else desperately needed? And was that fair to the doctor not to cancel ahead of time? I looked online for a way to cancel; it seemed there was no other way but to call, and be caught in that maddening recording.

Imagine what a grace it felt like, then, to get a voice mail from VNA saying that the doctor I was supposed to see couldn’t make it, they had to cancel my appointment, “please call to reschedule.”

No thank you. God took care of it for me. Thanks, God!

Mercies in the middle, joy in the midst of hassles. . . .

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