I hadn’t run more than three miles in twenty years. In fact I walk more often than I run. But last week I decided to join my friends Dan and Chris for a 5 mile run through the battlefields of Gettysburg while spending time at an FCA lacrosse camp with my daughter.
Dan, who runs marathons, and Chris, a former college athlete, ran the first two days without me. But on the third day I was inspired to join them.
It seemed like a good idea in theory but after the first mile I wasn’t feeling very positive about my decision. At the three mile mark I wanted to stop running but knew it wasn’t an option. I had to give everything I had.
As we ran the last two miles, mostly uphill, I felt like I was going to pass out but with Dan and Chris’ amazing encouragement I kept going and made it to the finish line.
I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment all day but that’s not the point of this message.
What happened two days later is the reason why I’m writing this. I ran three miles by myself and it was a piece of cake.
What I thought was once hard was now easy because I had stretched myself.
We don’t like to stretch ourselves because it’s painful and uncomfortable but it is through discomfort and stretching that we become stronger and grow.
When we stretch ourselves we look back and realize that it is our challenges, not our comforts, that make us stronger, wiser and better.
So what area of your life do you need to stretch?
Not everyone should go run five miles. But you can stretch yourself by taking on a new project at work. You can stretch your mind by reading more books. You can stretch your heart by giving more to a charity. You can stretch your relationships at home. You can stretch yourself mentally, physically and spiritually by challenging yourself to do the hard things that make life ultimately easier.