This past weekend I ran a 10k (6.2 mile) race. It was a lovely course along a country road, around a Christmas tree farm, and through a beautiful woods. There was a thick fog in the air which just seemed to add to the magic of the experience. The temperature was a chilly 30 degrees.
At one point I passed a guy walking the 5k race with forearm crutches. I later learned he was a cancer survivor. He was not fast. It was obvious that walking this race was not easy for him to do. It was cold, it was foggy, it was early on a Saturday morning. And this man chose to get up, get out the door, and walk a very uncomfortable, hard 5k. It took him over an hour and thirty minutes to walk 3.1 miles. He came in last place according to the results list.
But first place, second place, and last place aren’t the point. It doesn’t matter what place you come in, what matters is that you show up. Life isn’t about the number of awards you can win. Contrary to what Charlie Sheen claims, life isn’t about #winning, it’s about living.
And the cancer survivor walking a race with forearm crutches understands the power of living life.
People probably told him that he couldn’t or shouldn’t complete a 5k. But people also may have told him that he couldn’t survive cancer, but he did both.
I bet someone told him that he didn’t need to complete a 5k. He didn’t have anything to prove. He fought cancer and won, isn’t that enough? But he knew he could do more. So he did.
You see, life is lived through the easy and the hard. And it is only through the hard times that we see the beauty in the good times. It is the times when we show up when we’d rather stay in bed that we get a chance to experience the fullness of life. Because abundant life doesn’t usually happen laying in bed, sitting on the sidelines, or chilling on the couch.
Life is lived by doing. By showing up. By making the hard choices. By being present for every uncomfortable moment and enjoying the beauty amidst the fog.
Consider for a moment, the kinds of things that make you feel alive. The types of experiences that make your life feel full and abundant. I’m sure these things are slightly different for everyone, but I’m going to guess that the things that make you feel most alive, don’t always come easy. They are not without some sacrifice or discomfort at some point. But once you move past the sacrifice and push through the discomfort, you come out stronger, fuller, and more abundant. This is living life.
Maybe you feel more alive when you choose to eat healthy foods instead of junk.
Maybe you feel more alive when you put down your phone and play a game of chase with your kids.
Maybe you feel more alive when you sit down at the computer and write, even when you’re not sure what you have to write about.
Maybe you feel more alive when you step outside your comfort zone and start having real conversations and developing relationships with the people you come into contact with each day.
Maybe you feel more alive when you run, lungs burning, legs aching, pushing yourself beyond what you ever thought possible.
Maybe you feel more alive when you give generously of your time and your money to people who need your help.
Maybe you feel more alive when you speak out against the social injustices that you see and play your part in bringing hope and healing and peace to the world.
Maybe you feel more alive when you create things with your hands to give as a blessing to others.
I don’t know what makes you feel most alive. But I know that you probably talk yourself out of doing it for one reason or another every single day. It takes work, it takes effort, it takes sacrifice. But there is real life on the other side. Choose life. Choose the hard things. Make the sacrifices and enjoy living life to the full.
You only have one life, live it abundantly.