Persevering Through Life’s Obstacle Course

Jeffrey, Kelsey, Nicole, and Wes posing in front of the "I AM ONE TOUGH MUDDER" banner before the race.

3 miles in. Soaking wet and covered in mud. Oh, and on the side of a mountain.

The obstacle that faced me up ahead was one that didn’t even phase me on paper; however, standing in front of it now brought me to shaking knees and sweaty palms.

2×4 boards stacked to around 15-20 feet tall. That’s high to climb and extremely slender to sit on top of only to have to come down on the other side.

“You can do it,” Wes encourages me. “Jeffrey is at top and will take your hands and help pull you up the rest of the way when we push you up to him, okay?”

“Okay,” I replied nervously and unconvincingly. I didn’t want to do this. I was terrified. If I fell, I would surely break something.

They pushed me up by my feet and Jeffrey reached down to grab my hands.

“I’ve got you, Nicole,” he said. “You’re almost here.”

I used every ounce of strength I had to pull my body up to the top as Jeffrey pulled with all his might. I finally found myself at the top of this horrifying obstacle.

“Yes,” I exclaimed with shaking arms and legs as I was trying to maintain my balance. “I did it! We did it!”

I took a moment in celebration with Jeffrey and gave a thumbs up to Wes and Kelsey below. Then, I took in the view on the side of Snowmass Mountain. Wow, what a sight to see. It was beautiful. The task was conquered. I felt like I could breathe again. All I could think was that I never wanted to do that again!

But when I turned my head to my right, I was horrified to see what was up ahead:

 

Another wall.

 

No, no. I am not ready for this. I have to do this AGAIN? And this time, with less energy and less strength?

How am I supposed to get through this? I still have 7 miles and 20 obstacles to go, and that’s IF I can even get over this next wall.

The “you can do this” speech to myself is feeling forced and I wasn’t even convinced on the first wall.

This really feels impossible. How can I keep going? Will I even be able to make it if I do?

 

I don’t think it’s by accident that exactly a year later I find myself thinking and feeling similar things as I am diagnosed with sarcoma cancer and in the midst of chemotherapy:

  • Struggles on repeat with less energy each time
  • Losing stride and hope with each hit I take
  • Needing and relying on friends and family more than I ever have before
  • Weakness exposed
  • Tears and fears at every turn
  • Unpredictable obstacles on a long road ahead

Nicole sitting in the dirt looking off into the distance unsure concerned.

The difference between the Tough Mudder and cancer is that I actually signed up to participate in the Tough Mudder {I know, I’m a little crazy}! And even though it was extremely difficult, I knew the finish line would be at mile 10.

But I didn’t sign up for cancer. And I didn’t know when or how it would end.

In both instances, my body and spirit had moments where it felt like it was going to give out. I remember saying to Wes at some point in both ‘races’, if you will, that I didn’t know how I could get through what was coming up next.

Don’t we feel that in the moments of our deepest struggles? In the midst of our greatest battles? Haven’t we all faced the question:

How can I carry on?

Nicole walking off into the distance towards sunflowers.

Here are things that I did during cancer {and even during the Tough Mudder} to help me persevere through this difficult season. Maybe one or more of these will resonate with you or encourage you as well.

Celebrate {Small & Large} Wins

In the Tough Mudder, each mile, each obstacle, or even completion of a stage within an obstacle was celebrated. It gave us motivation. It showed us that we could do it. It uplifted out spirits. And it reminded us to take it one step at a time.

During cancer, we would celebrate getting past blood work, chemo sessions, appointments, and more and it really created a positive outlook in a difficult time.

Look How Far You’ve Come

Sometimes taking a moment to stop and see just how far you’ve come is helpful. Whether it’s healing, things getting even the slightest bit better, or making it through distance traveled, we are reminded that we can make it through another moment, hour, or day when we look back at what we’ve done.

Read God’s Word

The Bible is filled with words of encouragement to lift us up and keep us going. Here are some of my favorite verses that I keep close to my heart:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12:12

“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33b

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” -Matthew 19:26

Remember

In the Old and New Testaments of Scripture, we are always being told to remember. Remember what, you may ask? God’s faithfulness. How God delivers, how He loves, how He draws near to the brokenhearted, how He is strong when we are weak, how He is everywhere and knows everything, how His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, how He is all powerful and all good. Remembering God’s truth is key as sometimes our feelings can betray us in hard times.

Surround Yourself

Our minds may say to isolate, but it is critical, in my opinion, to let others in to your journey. I can’t imagine having done the Tough Mudder alone. Actually, I couldn’t have completed it alone. Some parts of the journey you simply need others: for assistance, encouragement, prayer, a hug, a boost. We were made to be in community, so I want to encourage us to never hide away in the times we need others the most.

Jeffrey, Kelsey, Wes, and Nicole at mile 10 in front of a sign that says "It's Mile 10 Do you know where your teammates are?"

Just Breathe

Our minds get foggy when we are stressed. By slowing down and taking deeper and longer breaths, we are allowing our brains to think with more clarity and logic. And I think we are able to listen to advice and encouragement better when we do that, too.

Pray

I think we often forget that God listens and respond to prayers. The saying, “Did you pray about it as much as you talked about it” is really convicting to me because oftentimes I go to everyone else except God with my fears. He makes a way, He guides us, He leads us. We just need to remember that and go to Him!

 

I hope that at least one of these fills you with the strength to know that you can carry on through your “Tough Mudder”, today.

Whether you find yourself on mile 1, in the midst of a scary obstacle, or almost to the finish line, know that you can do it. Keep going. You are not alone. God is with you at every wall, every obstacle, every point of complete exhaustion and stress along the way.

And instead of answering with an unconvincing “okay” at the challenge like I did, I hope we can answer confidently as we persevere through the obstacles of this life and grow in each one.

God bless you today and always!

Sparkle on,
Nicole Body

 

What are some things that have helped you carry on in difficult times? Whether it’s something you said, listened to, or wrote down, we would love for you to share!

 

Kelsey, Nicole, Wes, and Jeffrey at the finish line of the Tough Mudder

In loving memory of our dear friend, Jeffrey Price.
December 16, 1986 – July 24, 2018
We love you and miss you dearly.
We can’t wait to see you again in heaven.

4 comments

  1. Love all of this so much! Reading about your struggles and how you took steps to overcome was really encouraging. Thank you for sharing Nicole! I am visiting from Hope Writers as well.

    Ashley

    Liked by 1 person

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