3 races across 3 states in 40 hours. MS/AL/LA. The DEEP south.(check back for. Alabama and Louisiana.)
Mississippi — 8am on a Saturday
My alarm went off at 5am. My dear hostess Holly PONIED UP and drove me 20 miles along the Gulf Coast to my first race in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It was a beautiful drive along the ocean. The landscape is flat so you can see miles and miles of shoreline, waterfront and ocean. But the view is tainted by the profusion of vacant lots and for sale signs – leftover plots where grand houses stood before hurricane Katrina.
I completely forgot about the storm.
I was living in California at the time, far from the devastation and destruction. But now I’m face to face with the aftermath over 10 years later. Once I realized what I was looking at, you see it everywhere. Shells of former resorts, fire stations that resemble fall out shelters. Cement slab after cement slab after cement slab where homes were built and families were raised. We walked down a peninsula along the water where only weeds reside. It was haunting.
The race itself – Bring it to the Bay 5k and half marathon – was out and back over a bridge that has been rebuilt since the storm. Rebuilding is still in its infancy in parts of the coast. There are beautiful and jarring reminders everywhere. A chainsaw artist carved trees damaged by the storm – carved from the strongest trees that survived.
We all have to rebuild at some point in our lives. Divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of identity, altered purpose or perspective – major changes that we didn’t see coming or we resisted out of fear. We need to have strong, toned spiritual muscle to help us weather the changes – to stay strong when the storms come and to rebuild. Just last week I was presented with a major change that will alter the entire course of my next few years which I will share in the coming weeks.
“Circumstances that weigh you down and obstacles that block your path are God’s way of building spiritual muscle. Shortcuts and escape routes won’t build the stamina you’ll need to complete the course.” -D. Brammer
Do you know what muscles do when they’re torn? They grow back stronger.
Athletes know the importance of building muscle. I hate lifting but I have added it to my weekly routine. Light weight with many reps or a few lifts of a heavy weight, good form, rest, creatine, whey protein, lean meats, nuts, seeds, healthy fats. Everyone has their recipe for building muscle. Building spiritual muscle is no different. A quick prayer before meals or bed, quite moments of meditation and reflection, conversations with nature, with our Creator, practicing thankfulness are all methods of building spiritual muscle. Or do some heavy lifting – read scripture. Study theology. Join a small group or a church that builds you up. Start now. Don’t wait. When the storms come – AND THEY WILL COME – you won’t get swept out to sea. And when the waters recede, you’ll have the inner strength to rebuild.