When in pain, or frustrated with a situation, my much holier husband would sometimes say to me, "Have you offered it up?"
Me, not being so holy, would think, "Really? Do I have to?" And I would get angry. Mainly because I had not thought of it.
For those of you not familier with the term, we are taught in our faith, our Catholic faith, that none of our pain, whether physical, mental or emotional, is in vain. There is value in suffering. It is called Redemptive Suffering. We can be transformed by it and we can help to transform when we unite our suffering with Christ's suffering. When we "offer it up" for the benefit of others. As you can tell, I am not a theologian. But, if you are interested in a more profound description of the topic, you should read Redemptive Suffering by Fr Sam Tiesi.
Anyways, I always thought I had a good grasp on the topic. I have been through tough times, I have had physical pain (3 c-sections, one in which the epidural had not taken and I could feel the pain as they cut into my skin) and many of those times I consciously prayed through it all and asked God to take my pain and use it for some greater purpose. But,I have gotten better at it since I started training for my marathon. I am not kidding.
I love running, but there have been runs that have not loved me back. They were hard and I was in pain for more than one of them. And during those times, I could have: (1) given up and walked home (2) gotten angry about the fact that I was in pain and focus on it or (3) pray through it and offer it up for any number of people that I knew could really use prayers.
I chose #3.
Why has marathon training given me a greater appreciation for "offering it up"? First, because this is the first time that the pain was optional. With the c-sections, I had to go through those to have my three boys. But, I chose to run. I chose to challenge my body. And I chose the aches and the pains that came with the long runs. There have been times, with long hours on the road, that the only thing that had kept me going is prayer. Offering it up. I would consciously pray for the little baby girl that was born way too early and is struggling for life. I would pray for others I knew that asked for prayers. I asked God to take any physical discomfort I was feeling and use it for His Glory.
And, so, it may seem crazy that I registered for the Marine Corps Marathon, which will be my second marathon, even before running my first. But it is for a greater purpose. I am running with the Archdiocese Run for Vocations Team. I have done the 10K with the Run for Vocations for the last two years and have loved it. I was more than happy to raise money for the seminarians. But, I get it now. I want to offer up my training, each step made, each mile pounded out, for the priests and seminarians of our Archdiocese. It took training for the National Marathon for me to realize the power in my training and giving it all to Him.