But God, I want it easy

by Merisa Leatherman Downs

It had been a long week: work, kids and hadn't been sleeping great, just life in general. But here I was, running my third Spartan race in less than two months. I set out on a mission to earn this "Trifecta" medal that requires you to run 3 different races within a calendar year to earn this cool medal. Of course when someone told me the year was almost over and it would be nearly impossible to earn my medal, I knew I had to do it. I started training and never looked back.

As I was running today, I knew all I had to do was finish the race to earn my medal. But, when the race started and girls took off, passing me, my competitiveness kicked in. What started as "I'm just gonna have fun," quickly turned into, "I can't let these girls beat me."

I went out hard, really hard. I passed mile two marker and remember being able to see the top five girls out in front of me. This motivated me to try and keep these elite girls, who do this professionally, in my sights. Mile marker four came and that hard start I had, began to catch up with me. The hills got steeper and the obstacles got harder. "I'm only half way done, I don't know if I can keep this pace and keep those girls on my tail, behind me."

My lungs were burning from the combination of the cold air and the heavy breathing, my long week was starting to catch up to me and my legs were turning to jello. It was too late to relax a bit and "make it fun," like I originally planned. Now I was waist deep in the battle. Slowing down wasn't an option, I'd fought too hard and didn't want to give up the ground I'd gained.

"But God I want it to be easy." I began to think to myself, "Why does everything have to be difficult?" Now it wasn't just my body wanting a break - my mind had begun to play tricks on me. "Just slow down, take it easy." The battle I was fighting quickly moved from my body to my mind.

For the next two miles I continued with this thought, "But God I want it to be easy." After thinking this thought at least 50 times God lovingly spoke back, "Yes, child, I know... but then it won't be worth it."

I instantly knew, I had to suffer to get the victory. God assured me, the discomfort and mental battle was preparing me for something I couldn't see, but He could. My mental state changed and I went back into battle mode, fighting, harder than I had been.

I picked up my bucket of rocks and started my climb up another steep hill. Quickly into carrying it, my back and grip began to burn and I was ready to set it down. I came over the top of a hill and saw two girls resting with their buckets. Instantly I decided to push through the pain and gain some ground. I passed both girls on that obstacle, dumped out my bucket and took off running.

Motivated even more now, that voice in my head that almost convinced me to slow down was a distant memory. I passed the 6 mile marker and then "Pop!" I dropped instantly and realized I had just stepped in a hole and rolled my ankle. My first thing was to look back and see where those two girls were, and they were coming. Fast. I got up and tried to continue to run normal, but it wasn't happening. I could hardly put pressure on it so I began to run with a limp, quickly being passed by the two girls.

I looked back again and didn't see any other girls so I knew I had to try to finish strong. In that moment, God reminded me of my thought, "But God, I want it to be easy." I quickly realized if God would have made it easier, two miles earlier, I wouldn't have been prepared to finish the last almost three miles with a sprained ankle.

I continued to run that race. I finished. My top 10 finish didn't matter because I learned a lesson today. Whether it's a physical, mental or spiritual battle, the pain we endure is for Gods glory and purpose to be revealed in us. He is constantly preparing us for what only He knows we will be facing in the future. It's human nature to want things to be easy and many times we beg, "But God I want it to be easy." Our loving Father knows the strength He is developing in us is for a much greater battle that will require that strength. Embrace the pain, fight the battle and don't for a second let the enemy take the ground you have fought so hard for. "Child, it will be worth it."