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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Smith: Moving forward is (can be) painful

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Like many, I put on COVID weight. Thirty whole pounds to be exact. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. My clothes fit differently. Leggings and food became my friends. Doing simple chores like laundry, the dishes, going up and down the stairs, and cooking became my worst nightmare because my lower back was in excruciating pain.

I remember going on a walk in my neighborhood on Feb. 1, 2021, and I couldn’t make it seven houses down the street. I bent over on the sidewalk and thought I’d have to crawl home in the snow. Yes, there was snow on the ground, but like you, I was tired of being stuck in the house. I took a long, deep breath, stretched it out, and walked slowly back home. Once I got there, I sat on my front porch and did upper body circuit training for 30 additional minutes in the freezing cold. During that workout, I’d get up every now and then just to get my body reacclimated to being on its own two feet. Then I continued that for about the next week or so until I could walk for 45 minutes without stopping. I did a pretty crazy mental toughness program that forced me to get my mind right through working out twice a day with one workout having to be outside no matter the weather for 75 days (yeah, that’s another story), and on day 75, I ran a 5K. Yes … ran!

The process of getting the weight off has been painful — the strength exercises, the back and sinus issues, and the emotional ups and downs, but in order for me to move forward, I’m working to get the weight off. I’m working through my pain.

Maybe your “pain” is not physical. There’s pain in grief, rejection, church hurt, mental battles, relationships, guilt, unforgiveness, emotional anguish and some pain that we can’t even easily identify. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I want you to understand that pain comes in many forms. But there is hope.

You have everything within you to move onward and upward. Simply seek the one who has total control over your life and ask him to direct you because the shift is here. It’s shifting season, and you are still here because you have been called to live out your purpose. So don’t run. Sprint toward your destiny, even if it hurts! Work through every sting, every strain, every struggle. The pain will be worth every rep, every tear and every therapy session. Surround yourself with those who can hold you accountable — those you trust to call you out or better yet, call you forward — that’s what one of my mentors calls it. Let this be your sign that God is calling you forward, and this is your time to shift.

A well-known verse comes to mind, but I want to share the Message version because it lays out for us.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!” Proverbs 3:5-8, Message Bible

Don’t run from your pain. Run to it and through it. No, you don’t have to dedicate yourself to a crazy 75- day mental toughness program, but I encourage you to acknowledge the pain. There’s joy, healing and purpose as a result of your pain. It’s shifting season. Embrace your journey. Embrace your freedom. Embrace your life. Trust, glow and live.

Leslie Nicole Smith is an executive in higher ed administration, a motivator and community leader.

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