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Pain, then Progress.


If you want everyone standing in front of you to despise you, say these words:

"Get on the line."


As a player, I wanted to die when those words escaped my coach's mouth.

As if on cue, my legs would start to cramp and my stomach would drop to my knees, anticipating the difficulty of the fitness my body was about to endure.


Can't we just play? Why, oh why, do we have to put our bodies through this struggle?!


Then, I became a coach. Funny how God does that. Kind of like that saying that your mom uses on you: "just wait until you have kids of your own...I hope you have one that behaves just like you!"...Which is why I just KNOW that I'm going to have at least one child who is wild, all over the place and doesn't want to brush her hair. And my mom will sit back and laugh while I pull my own hair out trying to tame her.


But, when I became a coach, God used that position of authority to reveal such profound things to me. Whenever I had my team run, it was rarely a punishment (at least this is true for the girls' team I coached. The boys...well, let's just say they ran A LOT, for various reasons...). Every time I had them drop their lacrosse sticks, or put the soccer balls aside to line up on the dreaded end line, the groans they let out could be heard miles away. And, every single time, the looks that were exchanged between my players read: "what did we do now?"


The answer? Nothing.

In fact, practice was going quite well. The intensity was high, there was no more talk of prom, and our focus was sharp. But, our schedule was getting harder. There were bigger challenges ahead of us, and I knew that we needed our fitness level to be as sharp as possible. So, I pushed them.


In fitness, you only see results when you push your body past its comfortability. If you run 10 miles every day at the same pace, you're not going to see much change. But, if you push that pace and exhaust your legs, they are adapted and shaped to the new strength they need to keep up with your new workout.


These girls were running to enhance their endurance. They were running to push their mental strength. I saw their potential, and I wanted them to reach it.


But, as an athlete, that is far from your mentality. In fact, most of the time, I would be dreaming about the buffet of food that was waiting for me after a hot shower following practice. I wanted it to end. I didn't want to push myself.


However, it was in those hardest fitness tests, or those long, dreaded hours of lifting, or the clenched teeth while attempting to hold a plank for just a few seconds more, that I was forced to find my inner mental and physical strength to push on.


It was in the toughest moments where I found that I was capable of more than I thought.


And then, the results came.

I could run faster and longer on the field.

I could push my teammates harder and make them better players.

I could stay up longer and get more work done because my body felt better, and more energized.


There was pain first, but it was followed with progress.


In the same way that I wasn't punishing my athletes as a coach, God isn't punishing you with facing obstacles and tests in your way.


He is strengthening you.


He is pushing you past what you thought you were capable of because He sees your potential. He knows that you can grow, strengthen, and develop, but you have to put the work in. You have to hold your plank a little longer. You have to breathe and give it one more squat. You have to keep running despite the cramps and the aches in your calves. You have to push yourself, and know that you are being molded for whatever comes next.


For athletes, the grit comes before game day. The night of glory where you get to showcase your talents. How awful would it be if you weren't prepared and the other team demolished you?


For people, the grit has to come before game day for whatever God has in store. If God is going to use you, He needs to mold you into the player He needs to withstand the attacks of the other team (the enemy). You are His child, and He sees beyond what you see.

 
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4
 

You are not enduring pain or suffering because God is mad at you. You are not being punished. Rather, you are being tested, pushed, encouraged. Do not give up, and do not give in. You are stronger than you know, and you have a God rooting for you to exceed your preconceived limitations.


And, when you do complete whatever challenge you're facing at the moment, you will stand proud. You will stand strong. You will do just that.


You will stand.

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