by Eva G. Angaiak
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:3-5
My lungs ached. I could feel the breeze hit my face, but it didn’t dry off the stinging sweat on my arms. My feet faintly hit the ground one foot and the next.
“Keep going. Make it to the next street light,” I motivated myself. I wanted to give up and cry, my body was exhausted, my legs burned. The lake next to me was still and the people around it were in a pleasant resting state. I passed them quickly. I couldn’t lose my pace, I had to keep my speed.
My breath was unsteady, the breeze had come to a halt. My thoughts were striving to keep me distracted. My limbs became heavier with each step. I knew that this struggle was not physical (despite my screaming body) this was more, it was a mental fight. A battle that could only be won by will power.
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.”
I repeated this in my head over and over again.
This physical and mental pain was pushing my endurance to the edge. I had to keep going. “Don’t give in. Don’t stop. Suffering produces endurance, and endurance….”
The further I ran, the more tired I became, the more I couldn’t remember what was keeping me going. What did endurance produce? Why keep placing one foot in front of the next, wouldn’t it make sense just to stop and breathe for a moment, couldn’t I go faster if I rested?
“No” I punched the thought away. I knew what happened if I stopped, I knew that the minute I relaxed my pace I wouldn’t be able to regain my momentum. I knew that with each break, it would be harder to start and easier to stop. No, I wouldn’t taste rest, let it be sour in my mouth. So, I ran.
The sidewalk ended and led me to a dirt trail with a hill that laughed at me. The ground beneath me mocked my tired ankles. The lake was silent, listening to my heavy breathing. I wouldn’t stop, not yet. My thighs pushed up the hill with what power they had left, knowing that I wouldn’t let them stop. I was thankful that the hill went back down afterwards. I let my legs catch me as I powered down the hill and swallowed in a quick moment of air. I was almost around the lake. Nearly half way there.
“I’m not dead yet, I’m not even halfway. Endurance produces character and character…” I punched another thought in my head. I pushed a little harder. I was around the lake. The bridge loomed ahead of me. It was cool under the bridge in the shade where the creek murmured. I closed my eyes as I ran, holding my arms out, letting my sweat hit the cool air. I breathed in. I was aware that after the bridge, it was going to be uphill most of the way. I breathed in again. “Character produces hope and hope… I can’t do it, I’m not strong enough, I’m too tired” I punched the thoughts in my head. A man in a red shirt was sitting on a bench. I passed him and smiled. He nodded his head. I kept running. The smile had exhausted me. Up the hill I went. Determined. I was back on the sidewalk against the highway. I welcomed the traffic that gave me some wind, even if it came with prying eyes. I ran, I ran, I ran.
I started to round the corner, coming up on the street of my destination. I’ve never punched so many thoughts in my life before. The thoughts kept coming, they were practically thrown at me. I dodged. I ran. I wouldn’t stop. I was made capable. I was on the last stretch, I breathed in, I was going to sprint.
“Three, two, one…” My legs bounded forward. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame. This is my victory run!”
I made it. I walked into the studio. It was dark and I could hear some of my teammates catching their breath on the ground. I joined them. I smiled. I didn’t stop, I didn’t stop. I had won the battle. I ran.
Eva (Gracie) Angaiak is a Native Alaskan/Italian believer and artist who is constantly creating art to inspire and challenge people in their journey of life. She loves to sing, dance, and is currently falling in love with raw writing. A writing that brings truth to light.