by Kari Diane Pike
Oh, how it did this fifty-something-year-old's ego good when I started pedaling the bike and noticed how much more strength I seemed to have than when I first started cycling. Seriously, I felt like I was flying down the road. At last, I was seeing the results of hard work and the sacrifice of hot fudge sundaes and Reese's peanut butter cups. Until I turned the corner -- and had to ride uphill -- facing the wind. Talk about a bubble bursting experience.
I pedaled harder and changed gears, and still nearly came to a stop. I considered turning around and riding my course in the opposite direction, but then realized that all that would change was the location of the challenges. What goes down, must come up. At some point, I would still have to face the hills and the wind. I had two choices: keep pedaling, or give up and walk the bike home.
I realized that quitting wouldn't help me reach my fitness goal, so I chose to keep riding. I leaned forward over the handlebars to reduce some of the resistance and faced my challenge head on. I turned another corner and with the wind once again at my back, I sat up straight. The wind became my friend and pushed me forward to yet another challenge. The experience made me think about a quote I read the other day:
"Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?" (Abraham Lincoln)
Okay. That lead me to this thought: The culture I grew up in taught me that "pain" is a bad thing, that something is wrong and that I should avoid it as much as possible. If something seems too hard, then I probalby shouldn't be doing it. Pain is my enemy.
What would happen if I were to take Lincoln's advice and make "pain" my friend?
Pain can tell me when I need to make changes -- changes in my physical activities, my eating habits, and even changes in my attitude. A little bit of pain can precede a fabulous spurt in growth. But like any worthwhile friendship, I have to pay attention. If I ignore the pain, it will find ways to make me pay heed. Pain also feeds on fear and can grow to monstrous proportions. I realized that my fear of pain is what keeps me from realizing my dreams and achieving my goals.
So what would happen if I were to change the way I perceive pain? What would happen if I were to stop being afraid of challenges and the possibility of pain and embraced them instead? In the scriptures, the Lord told Adam that "cursed shall be the ground for thy sake" (Moses 4:23). Challenges are meant to be a blessing! By looking at challenges and pain as opportunities for growth -- by making them my friend -- I will find that nothing is impossible.