I met this woman the other day that was just amazing! Yes, she was kind and lovely and generous and had so many wonderful traits. However, what stood out to me was her passion. She competes in extreme obstacle course marathons all over the world, and is absolutely passionate about it! By the way, she is in her mid-sixties.
She was describing these competitions, the intensity, the physical demands and that often it is the demands on her mind and heart that are that much more difficult. I sat there shaking my head in disbelief and piped up “an obstacle course for me is a set of stairs”. Did I really say that out loud? I did and it is true.
That conversation led me to thinking about the obstacle courses of our lives and that they truly are so different for each of us. If you have heard me speak, you know of my freak leg accident and the concern we had that I might never walk again. You see me walking around on stage, without a problem at all, right? But, did you know that I always have to put in my contract how we will handle the stairs? Will there be a handle bar for me? Someone always says that they will help me down, but of course, little miss independent here would rather do it herself by holding on to a stair rail.
So, when I piped up that a set of stairs is an obstacle for me, it was really quite true. Heidi’s obstacle marathon course is very different, it is physically demanding, intense, strenuous and requires her entire being to complete it. She trains for days on end and has rigorous protocols for eating, sleeping, etc. so that her body is in peak condition to compete.
Here is the thing though; we both know what our obstacles are. We both plan and prepare to manage our obstacles. In doing so, we are able to overcome and succeed. When I finish speaking and finally get down the stairs I break into a great big smile. Too often, people will say, what a smile you must be happy you are done speaking. Really no, I love speaking. I am just happy to be done with the stairs.
What are the obstacles in your life? How do you plan, train, and prepare to handle them? As you reflect on your obstacles in life, and you consider how you prepare to handle them, where is God in your preparations? Another point in my speaking contracts is that I always ask for 15 – 30 minutes alone before the speech to pray. It is my time with God to ask him to give me the words he needs me to say. I usually ask him for a little help with the stairs as well, by the way.
I am no theologian, but I think of obstacles as different from the cross. We know we have to carry our cross and that Christ is there with us to support us as we do. I think of obstacles as the rocks or pebbles along the road. A pebble for Heidi is a rock or boulder to me. But, dog gone it, I will carry my cross, I will navigate the obstacles and I will smile radiantly as I finish.
As you reflect on your obstacles, how do you manage them? How do you rely on God when you approach them? How do you feel when you successfully navigate them? I hope you feel radiant!