I’m discouraged.

I’ve been working so hard on running. I’ve been giving so much energy to it. (And yes, soon I’ll let you all know why it is that I’m trying so hard to train…but not today.)

And it seems that every time I come to a new point, or cross a new threshold, I fall back again due to some frustrating injury or weakness that I have.

I’ve been struggling with weaknesses both physical and mental. This week, it has been both.

Something in my head tells me I can’t keep going, and that I can’t possibly make it past that fence or that tree or that bend in the trail. And it’s only compounded by the pain in my body that I keep fighting against. I correct one thing, and hurt something else. It’s really been a grueling process for me.

On Saturday, I was running on a trail that I frequent. Though I had my motivating music in my ears and beautiful scenery in my eyes, I just struggled. I was tired and I was hurting. I was so frustrated at myself for getting hurt again. I was angry at the mental and physical weaknesses that were keeping me from my goal.

A little more than half-way through my planned run, I just stopped. I felt so down, and like I just couldn’t keep going.

It was a perfect deciding place. From there, I looked down. I could easily go back to the van and just go home. To my left, the long, easier, downhill run. To my right, a very steep run upward to my favorite place around here.

I thought for a while about what to do. I just wanted to go home.

But I decided not to quit.

So then I glanced off to my left. That would certainly be easier…it’s a downhill run for a good kilometer and a half. Lots of people were on that trail. It would be so easy to follow them and take the easy road down.

Then I looked to my right. It was steep and daunting. It did not look fun at all. But I knew what awaited me up there if I could just make it.

So I began a slow, painful run upward. There were times it couldn’t be considered a run. But it was a constant movement upward.

Finally, after several painful minutes, I arrived.

At the top, there is a beautiful compass rose inlaid in the ground, and this, all around:

I stood in the middle of that compass, and looked around me at the beauty. I was alone in the quiet. It was a triumphant moment. It had not been easy, but I had made it up there again.

As I stood there on that compass, I thought about my life and the direction it is going. I thought about them:

I thought a lot, and just reveled in the joy at having overcome my weaknesses in that moment so that I could go further upward.

In our lives, it is so easy to fall back and to do things that end up hurting us. It is all too easy, even when we have motivation and love all around us. We are still human, and we still have weaknesses. In the end, it comes down to our choices.

We can quit trying and give in to the pain and weakness.

We can follow the easy path downward with everyone else.

Or, we can climb the arduous, lonely road upward.

Why climb up? Why keep trying if it’s so hard?

Because when we advance, progress, and overcome our weaknesses, more joy and beauty awaits us up farther than we could have ever imagined when we were down below.

It’s worth the price. It’s worth the climb.

Keep trying, even if you feel like you’ve made mistakes. Keep going, even if you feel too weak or too hurt inside by the choices you or others have made.

Keep choosing to go up.

It’s worth it.

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