kicking up dustI’ve had some pretty grueling workouts – I mean “we ain’t leavin’ till we’re heavin” type of workouts. Like doing heavy squats till physical failure, slamming the barbell back in the rack and jumping up and down from a deep squat position until we collapsed…

While those type of workouts and images in my mind are in a shrinking rear view mirror, I remember them all the same… The point at the time was to tear the muscles down and have the body repair the damage and increase in strength and size. That’s one of those goals that seem so worthy at the time, but leave you shaking your head in hindsight.

Everyone grasps the physical pain and suffering for the long-term good of our health and fitness is worthy, but yet we can’t relate to it on a spiritual level.

I remember the reality of being alone when I was the only one of my siblings not in school and the day we found Kitty Boo, my mom’s cat that got hit by a car, and she and I buried him – my tears falling in the hole I was digging… my heart breaking for her. I can’t forget my first funeral… my grandma on my dad’s side and the reaction of all the adults. Another pain was the loss of my dog Pee Wee after moving to the big city to start high school… man who was a hollow summer…

Like all heart breaks and pains, we graduate to bigger ones with time spent kicking up dust on this planet… my Dad’s graduation from this dimension to the heavenly one is far more emptying and painful than the crazy workouts. Although it can be compared in a small way to the hard workouts – tearing the muscle to the point of pain and soreness to let the muscle grow bigger and stronger – it’s similar to growing our spiritual heart. With each pain and heartbreak, God allows our hearts to be broken, beat up, fatigued, overused, battered, and yet we gain something; our hearts grow bigger and stronger.

How could we ever have sympathy, empathy, or compassion if we had no experience with pain? With painful experiences of real life God trains our hearts to run the marathon of life;  but since our spiritual hearts are bigger, we have more understanding for the pains in life that others might be experiencing.

The winner of this marathon isn’t measured by who comes in first. It’s measured first on Who resides in our hearts, then on the love shared with all the other participants kicking up dust on the same course. We’ve all caused ourselves some grief and heart breaks, it’s part of learning, but I also think God allows some of those heart breaks in order to train our hearts to grow bigger, to expand so that we might have more compassion…

Just as physical pain can bring about health, maybe we should consider the benefits of our spiritual pain.

Have you gained anything from difficult times?