“By presenting to the soul the crosses, losses, reproaches, sorrows, and sufferings, which daily attend those who walk in the ways of holiness.”
Eighty-hour weeks. Endless classes, textbooks, memorization, and exams. The red tape and organizational frustrations of the health care system. Extreme competition for only a few fellowships. Student loans, sleeplessness, stress, and uncertainty. This is the life of a medical resident.
Up before dawn. Aching muscles. Tired brain. The same breakfast, again. In the pool, in the gym, on the track. Another workout. Pushing, stretching, sweating, gasping for air. Missing your goal by a split second. In the shower, then a quick meal, then you do it all again before dinner. This is the life of an Olympic athlete.
Three clean outfits. Three breakfasts, barely touched. Missing homework. Runny nose. Late to daycare, late to school, late to work. Angry phone call with the vice principal. Arranging rides home. Grabbing one more fast-food meal on the way to practice. Hurried conversations, hurried dinner, hurry off to bed. One moment of peace. This is the life of a single parent.
Why do we do it? Why do human beings push ourselves beyond our limits, beyond our desires and hopes, to accomplish something few will recognize and fewer will remember? Because of our hope of the reward, the prize. Only because the promise is greater than the sacrifice. The result is worth the pain.
- A medical degree
- A gold medal
- Three strong, healthy, well-loved kids
They all appear at the end of narrow paths, uphill climbs, leaving bits of ourselves along the way. For the prize. To see the clearing at the end that leads to the valley, the restful retreat by the quiet lake.