Last Saturday, myself and two friends trekked to Glenworth Valley to take on Tough Mudder. I signed up for it earlier in the year, when in a moment of frustration I found myself sick of the phrase ‘I can’t!’. It’s a phrase that too often finds its way into my mind. It’s a phrase that too often sinks into my heart and reminds me of how inferior I am. There’s a bit more of a play by play over at my fitness blog, but there are a few things I want to write here.
There is a moment at the beginning of Tough Mudder, when having climbed over a wall to get into the holding area, everyone takes a knee and raises a hand. We recite the pledge. Voices rise above the noise of the crowd around and the conviction in the mass of mudders is spine tingling. Nerves are pushes aside and resolve becomes steely. The conviction of the Christian life seems similar to me. As we speak creeds in church, I wonder if our hearts are as determined to live these words as the thousands who recite the Tough Mudder pledge before embarking on their 20km mission.
The obstacles are not made to be taken on alone. In fact, the course isn’t made for it even if you removed the big obstacles. There is enough mud to sap your energy within five kilometres. The obstacles are a welcome break from trudging through mud! In the tired moments during the course, there is always a voice that comes from a stranger that tells you to keep moving – to keep going – that the end is that little bit closer. Those voices kept me moving. It’s those voices that keep me going in life, too. The friends that remind me that God is up to something big, even in the chaos. They tell me to keep going, even when my soul feels heavy.
The same people those voices came from, lifted me up. Literally. They held my hand and jumped from a height that made me legs shake. There was a simple ditch that my short legs couldn’t scramble out of, and someone pushed me out with no hesitation. The course wasn’t about them and their glory. It was all about helping each other get through the moments when our muscles couldn’t manage. Again, there are friends who have done that for me in life. They have kept me going by carrying me through the moments when I couldn’t lift my legs high enough. No hesitation. Just love.
The last thing I want to tell you is that there is a finish line. At the end of the 20km, you stumble through an obstacle dubbed Electroshock Therapy, with muscles contracting uncontrollably and adrenaline coarsing through your fatigued body. You cross the line and they hand you a headband, a t-shirt, a beer and a shiny blanket that’s meant to prevent hypothermia. There’s a finish line. It exists. And together, we cross it.
And we did.
See, the resolve that it took to sign up was nothing in the end. The real challenge was on the day, to keep going when everything in me wanted to stop. God taught me a lot in those long hours. He taught me that you can’t fight through hard times alone. He taught me that mess can be the most glorious thing ever. He taught me that when you feel like you can’t, you probably can. He showed me that this body He gave me is capable of more than I often give it credit for.
We finished Tough Mudder. One day, I hope to take it on again. Maybe next year sometime. I cannot stop smiling, though. I cannot believe that the girl who finds herself fearing failure took on something that stacked the odds against her. I cannot believe that God would take me through a muddy, messy adventure and bring me out the other end standing tall.
One silly day earlier this year, I signed up for Tough Mudder.
Last Saturday, I finished it. And I never want to forget the feeling.