I’ve always pushed myself to excel, whether I’m taking an exam or just hiking a mountain with friends. I don’t quit. Ever. I might be dying on the inside, because the trail is so steep and I therefore can’t catch my breath. And I might be praying with every ounce of strength in me that one of my friends will beg for a break, because then I’ll be forced to take one too. But you won’t hear me asking everyone to stop for a drink of water. No, that, my friends, is a sign of weakness.
Trust me, I don’t make fun of people if they can’t do something physically. I accept them for where they’re at and probably won’t think twice about it. And if they have ailments that could fill a novel, I chalk it up to life not being fair. But if I’m the one under the microscope, I do get a bit judgmental and expect perfection. I expect myself to make it to the summit. I expect myself to get a good grade. I expect myself to be strong, fit, and in control of the situation.
(Anyone else out there like that?).
Oftentimes, I think that God has a sense of humor, and He definitely proved it when He created my soul-mate. Nate is one of the most caring, smart, fun, strong guys I know. I love him to death. But he also has asthma, is allergic to peanuts, and sometimes has back problems. He can’t control any of these situations. And if he were to try to fight them, he could very well suffer some serious consequences. He has to accept that he has limitations. And somehow, he ended up marrying a girl like me.
Most of the time, he and I balance each other perfectly. I keep us goal-oriented, and he helps me make time to relax. But there are also times in which I might not react in the best way, and I’ve had to learn from those moments. For example, he started having an asthma attack after we had shoveled the driveway last winter. He stumbled his way to the house to grab his inhaler. I, on the other hand, was begging him to go on a hike with me. He couldn’t. And I’m sad to say that I felt a little upset with him. I mean, here was this twenty-six year old guy who couldn’t even handle shoveling the driveway.
Harsh thoughts, I know. And I felt horrible just thinking about it. But the truth is that I just couldn’t understand. I understood pushing oneself through pain, but I couldn’t understand actually not being able to do what I wanted to. I had to grow through that situation.
This year, I did some more growing…
My bronchitis in January — and then again in February — was horrible and left my lungs weak. When I was at the doctor’s last, they handed me a small box and told me to use it often. It was an inhaler.
I don’t do inhalers.
But trying to ignore that I needed it only left me breathless and coughing. So I had to accept that I would need it until my lungs fully healed. And through the process of wheezing and nearly dying when I just walked up a flight of stairs, I was able to see my husband’s side of things. (Not that he has asthma so bad that he can’t walk up stairs. But you know what I mean). 🙂 Maybe I was even able to let go a bit of my control and need for physical strength. Although I still won’t ever be a quitter, there’s no shame in taking a break.
Tonight, Nate and I are going back to the gym for the first time since I got sick, and you can be sure that we’ll both be packing our inhalers. They’re even matching colors. Cool, right?
My doctor also diagnosed me with a food allergy. I’m not severely allergic, like Nate is, but my body can’t break down those fake sugars that are in diet sodas, yogurts, and 100 calorie snacks. So I’ve had to say ‘goodbye’ to any of those products.
You know, perfection really isn’t about whether or not your lungs can handle what another’s can or if you have to avoid certain foods. It’s all on the inside. That’s really who you are. So if you can’t do something physically, it doesn’t mean you’re less than anyone else. Yeah, I’ll never be a quitter. And I’m not done pushing myself either. I do need to start working out more regularly, and it’s going to be difficult at first. But I also think that I’ve learned to appreciate what really matters and to let go of what doesn’t. People should be viewed as human beings with feelings and with unique abilities. Just because someone can’t climb a mountain, it doesn’t mean they can’t do something else better. We all have gifts and talents. It’s not all about what you can or can’t do physically.
There’s a healthy way to push yourself physically. Do you push yourself too hard or do you find a healthy balance?