I’ve been a bit quiet lately for a number of reasons. The number one reason being, I’ve been dealing with some growing pains.
Let’s face it. They don’t call them growing pains for nothing. They’re called growing pains because they cause a significant amount of discomfort.
Each season in my life that has produced monumental growth has been accompanied by pain. I’ve learned the presence of the pain isn’t associated with age, but rather, your level of motion, action, and movement. What I mean is, so long as you’re growing, there will be some level of pain present. It’s a part of the process, and a valuable one at that.
There have been countless points throughout my life—both in seasons past and present—I’ve avoided facing up to the pain it takes to grow. In these moments, it’s no wonder I’ve experienced feelings of defeat, or felt as though I was running in a circle.
Having decided to step up to the [growth] plate once again, I’ve recently been met with the following types of growing pains.
Physical Growing Pains
Call it overconfidence or a burst of enthusiasm, a few weeks ago I started out a local 5K race running way too fast for my own good. I barely remember the last mile because my mind and legs were on autopilot. I was done. It was only divine intervention that carried me through. As I huffed and puffed across the finish line, I realized, if I want to run faster, I must commit. On every run, I must push through the pain that comes with growing stronger as a runner. At this point in running, for me, getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other is the easy part. Challenging myself to run uncomfortably for the sake of being better at something I love is where it gets trickier. Yet another reminder to trust the struggle.
As I continue to push myself, running over and back across my favorite bridge in the heat of the day, charging my way to the top at my race pace, I’m winded and my legs are crying out, but I keep going. And I grow stronger every time. The best part is having Andrew join me.
WHAT: A run that was intended for the early morning, but after oversleeping, was bumped to the grueling late afternoon hours.
WHEN: Last Sunday afternoon
WHERE: Vilano Beach Bridge
DISTANCE: 1/2 mile warm up
+ 2 miles at tempo pace (over and back bridge hill hell)
+ 15 minutes of strength work
RESULTS: Sarah: attitude adjustment; Andrew: mental clarity
After our bridge run, I decided, why not kick ourselves with some strength training while we were already down. Although this video isn’t our actual strength workout, it is my failed effort to document some quick bits of it.
Please note, Andrew’s tone is strictly a result of exhaustion. And I didn’t realize he was filming for most of the time.
Emotional Growing Pains
While I may not be the excessively emotional adolescent I once was, I am most certainly the epitome of a hypersensitive adult. Balancing this level of sensitivity in an environment and scenario that still remains new to me, is a constant struggle. I’ve realized, the more I invite my external self to face up to potentially anxiety-inducing situations, the more immediately uncomfortable I feel, and the more growth that takes place within my internal self. I call it, immediate discomfort for the sake of longterm gain and stronger coping skills.
Now that I’ve reached a point of becoming more involved and invested in the community I inhabit, and feeling less like the new kid, putting myself out there has become much more enjoyable and far less exhausting. As a result, I am reaching a better balance between meeting the needs of my internal and external selves. As an outgoing introvert, while quiet time to recharge remains a necessity, I must be careful. For it’s when I retreat and stay in the comfort of my own company for too long, that I fall back into the heaviness of my own mind. To eliminate some of this heaviness, I’m making an effort to trade in my desire to always prepare for the worst-case scenario, and live out my best-case scenario instead.
Relational Growing Pains
If I was to classify myself as an animal, I would probably best equate myself to a wild, feral pony—hard to rein in sometimes with an overwhelming desire to run the opposite direction the moment I feel like I am becoming like the rest of the herd. Sometimes with sound reason. Others, mostly for the sake of individuality. When you’re actively moving forward and growing together with someone, you don’t get to go into wild pony mode and dart off whichever way the wind takes you.
Currently, Andrew and I are reading Donald Miller’s “Scary Close” together, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s bringing many things to the surface in regard to my relationship with relationships. For starters, there are buildings in my life, selfish wants, that need to be burned down, in order to build new, more sound structures. Then there’s my desire to hide parts of myself from others. Wading through relational growing pains is a tricky one that demands you do the opposite of hide—but instead, show up, all in. Successful relationships of any kind are tough. They require vulnerability, honesty, and the willingness to adjust your actions and reactions, all of the time, every single day, not just some of the time, or when things are going smooth.
All I can say here is, in life, I’ve never wanted anything that comes easy. And when it comes to relationships, I’m trying to be less of a wild pony.
Creative Growing Pains
I used to think creative growth was something that happened at a slow, soothing pace. You know, while sitting on the beach, relaxing with my feet up, writing in my journal, miles away from any other human being. Or sitting on top of a mountain even. Wrong. For me, and maybe you too, to truly grow my creative self, I need to be pushed, affirmed, or connected in some way to something bigger. It’s in the moments that I am pushed by an outside force of some sort, that I channel an intense sense of momentum. The level of momentum it takes to not just want to produce greater work, but to actually put in the energy necessary to see it through to completion.
Creative growth recently has involved my hitting a brick wall, and then finding the courage to struggle, word by word, until the point of a breakthrough.
At this present moment, my creative pains come from identifying areas I’m slacking in, and challenging myself to work tirelessly at improving them. It means throwing myself out there and stepping up my game to not only give new opportunities a chance, but take them on with nothing but optimism and confidence.
Mental & Spiritual Growing Pains
For me, mental and spiritual growth go hand in hand. This type of growth occurs when I am willing to let go of my childish desire for control, silence my crazed mind, set aside a designated time for prayer and reflection, and actively make good with myself. This might not be a crucial part of your equation, but it is of mine, despite it being a consistent struggle. It’s something that I’ve let fall by the wayside ironically, during a season I’ve needed it the most—a season of nonstop transition.
Mentally and spiritually, I continue to identify areas within myself that need work while facing up to feelings I’m experiencing that are rooted in guilt, anger, resentment, and various other negative emotions. Still, identifying is only half the battle. Taking the strides to change is the heavy part. I’ve found that the only way to experience the weight being lifted, is by making a point to constantly free myself of negative emotions by owning them, facing them, and then surrendering them to a power far greater than myself.
Rejoicing in Pain
The other night I created something special for dinner that did not turn out as planned. I went through a lengthy documentation process, only to realize that while it tasted pretty good, overall, it was something I wasn’t especially pleased with. It didn’t turn out like I wanted it to, and as a result, I decided I wouldn’t be sharing it. This seemingly trivial scenario frustrated me and I was quick to write it off as a fail. Andrew was equally quick to challenge me. “You mean it didn’t turn out exactly as you hoped and you learned something from it?” he asked. He got me.
It’s funny how often we forget that it’s not the things that go right in our lives that push us to grow, change, and be different. It’s the things that challenge our momentum, test our sanity, and threaten our spirits that shift and shape us the most.
While you’ll never see me wearing a T-shirt that reads, “No pain. No gain,” I would encourage you that pain is part of every human experience. Without it, there would be no growth.
As for me, I’m still working on being better at rejoicing when life hurts.