Sunday, September 14, 2014

What is Your Tolerance for Pain?

I have a blister on my ankle.

Ever happen to you? The not so fun result of New shoes or just a result of wearing work shoes after a week of flip flops and walking barefoot on the beach? Whatever the case, you have a blister.

What do you do? Bandaid? Neosporin? Select a pair of shoes that is slightly larger or more comfortable? Flip flops for a while? Avoid shoes all together?

What do I do, you ask? I push through. I put my selected pair of shoes on and embrace the discomfort. I keep going. Foolish? Perhaps.  Not sure if that helps heal the blister any faster but I refuse to let the pain stop me.

Not the first time, I will admit. Last winter, I went skating at the Downtown Detroit Campus Martius skating rink. I was flying around the ice when I felt it ... the blister on my ankle. At that moment, I was faced with two options: Stop and nurse the ankle or keep going, enjoy the moment and inevitably nurse a slightly larger blister later.  Wonder which option I took? Well, at the end of the day, the blister was enormous (not kidding) and had bled through to stain the wool sock to which it was stuck. Serious OUCH! BUT, I had an amazing afternoon skating around that circle. And I never stopped smiling.

In high school, I played on the golf team. During my senior year at one of our biggest meets, I was playing really well. I knew my score would make or break our Team Score. I was the last one to come in. It was up to me. But standing on the tee of the 17th hole, I felt the blister on my index finger. It had been a long day. At that moment, this dull ache threatened my entire round. I was one point ahead of my competitor with two holes to go. Now was not the time to allow any weakness to show.

What did I do, you ask? Curious aren't you? Well, I did the only thing I knew to do. I hunkered down, hit an amazing tee shot and a brilliant chip up the hill to the green. It was on a slope so I didn't see exactly where it landed but I knew I made the green. As I walked up to seek out my ball, I noticed that my golf glove had been shredded. I am absolutely serious. It was hanging on my left hand by the snap only. Walking onto the green, I looked around for my ball.  It was a fabulous chip ... and I KNEW the ball was securely on the green. 

I walked around a few moments before discovering the ball was already in the hole. I had chipped it perfectly. Down in Two! Birdie for Jenni! I removed the glove with a smile. My score ended up winning us that competition. And I still have the shredded glove.

Some might say I have a high tolerance for pain.  I just see it differently. I have a high intolerance for pain. A high intolerance for anything that could potentially limit me or stop me or try to hold me back from finding the best in me or the best of any possible moment. I won't be limited or stopped by a little pain when something glorious is on the line. So when I have a blister on my ankle, I push through. I wear the shoes anyway. I show up and face the difficult moments with grace. I don't hide from them. I don't cower when the challenges or blisters arise.

What about you? What do you do when you have a blister? When the difficult moment arises and you are face to face with one of them? Do you avoid the challenge? Do you address it? I'm not here to judge or tell you what to do. Only you know your truth. Only you know the stakes and how important "the shoes" are to you.

But for me, I'm gonna wear the shoes. I'm gonna finish the round. I'm gonna look the most difficult moments of my life in the eyes and smile. I may fall down. I may not win the day. I may lose the race or the role or the whole game. But I will not let a little blister or a little fear or a little self-doubt beat me.

Will you? Or will you fight through the pain and find your own victory?

Your call. But if  you happen to find me at Campus Martius this winter wearing those horrible heavy rented ice skates, I will probably have a blister. And I will still be skating.
                                                                                                     -- Jenni