It’s called a “Ruck”.
When I first heard my CEO Nick say the word, my response was, “A wha–?”
Apparently, in a “ruck”, one treks 50 miles on foot with a 30-pound pack on one’s back. Nick completed a “ruck” in August, accompanied by a few other torture seeking pals.
I’m going to state what a ruck is again. In case anyone read the first few lines too quickly.
Nick walked 50 miles. With a 30-pound pack on his back.
This concept was new to me, and rather insane-sounding. Since I’m a runner, I’m constantly searching for new ways to be lighter, swifter, more fluid. Lose the body fat. Buy lighter-weight shoes. Don’t run on a full stomach of Frappuccino’s and chili rellenos. (yes….I really did that once. Bad idea.) Getting rid of extra weight is paramount to a runner. That’s how you gain speed.
Yet, here my CEO is doing a thing where he added on weights.
It felt counter-intuitive to me, despite all I know logically about using weights to build strength. I don’t want to carry around heavy things. I don’t want added pressure on my back. It sounds so inconvenient. And hard.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have listened to the words of pastors and teachers, espousing words from Scripture on the need to “set aside every weight” and to “lay your burdens at the Cross.” In John Bunyan’s famous story, Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character Pilgrim starts out his journey with a giant bundle on his back. When he reaches the Cross on a hill, the bundle falls off. He’s freed from his load.
Freedom from what impedes us or imprisons our souls is a core aspect to Divine Love. When our spirits are freed, and our souls are lifted, we are unhindered in the path set before us. David, in one of his Psalms, wrote with joy, “I will run the way of your commands—because you have set my heart free!”
Still….a nagging phrase won’t leave my mind.
My CEO didn’t ‘fall’ into a ruck race. Nor was he forced to do it. Or born into a family of ‘ruckers.’ Every mile logged, each pound added, every drop of sweat — were all geared towards a goal. He wanted to do it. He set his mind to it. The weight was on his back for a reason. He then built the strength to carry it.
Sometimes, the power of Christ frees us immediately.
Other times, His power enables us to carry a weight that is both necessary and beneficial. We build our strength. Our resilience is most evident in times of great trial.
The Apostle Paul in the New Testament wrote about the “care of all the churches” weighing on him daily. In the book of Deuteronomy, in the Old Testament, Aaron supported the weight of Moses’ arms so that Joshua could win a battle. Jesus Himself sweat drops of blood while bearing the weight of redemption’s price before He died.
Their endurance resulted in meaningful outcomes. The outcome was worth the weight.
(Ok, I’m sorry for that last phrase. Sort of.)
I’ve been thinking about what in my life is worth carrying with me. I’m compiling an inventory of what needs to go and what will stay. I’m asking questions, sitting silently, listening. Where have I taken on burdens that I shouldn’t? Where am I purposefully carrying my share of a load? Where can I trim fat, yet gain muscle?
Weights, for me, show up in spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and relational ways. I know where my baggage is, and alternately, I know where I need to keep practicing faithfulness. Each one of us, if we reflected a short time, could see our own internal and external ‘extras’ that are tugging at our souls.
If I decide to take on a weight, or if a weight is thrust my way, what will my response be? Can I see its value, or is it sucking life out of my soul? Is the space it takes up necessary, or should I release it away? Is it teaching me, or undermining my principles?
Is it bearable, for myself alone? Or do I need help?
Because, in the middle of the heaviest weight, we can know:
We don’t have to bear it alone.
My favorite scene from “The Lord of the Rings” movies is when Frodo collapses, exhausted from the magnitude of the Ring’s weight. Sam-Wise Gamgee leans over, hoists Frodo on his back, and announces, “I can’t carry it, but I can carry you!”
That’s the power of two. The solidarity of a team. The solace of community.
Paul had Silas.
Aaron had Hur.
Jesus had John the Beloved.
Frodo had Sam.
Nick had 2 friends with him.
We don’t have to be on our own, no matter how strong we think we are. We don’t have to always act tough and “buck up”. We can lean on the people God has placed around us. We might have to risk vulnerability. We might collapse. We may falter.
But we don’t have to run solo.
A few months back, I sat in my office at work, holding back tears. I was just realizing that the weight of the task before me was bigger than anything I’d ever attempted. I met the concerned eyes of my co-worker, and said, “I don’t know what to do.”
“Let me help you,” she said.
I did. I realized, as the weeks progressed, that the ancient King Solomon was right, when he wrote in one of his books, “Two are better than one.”
The reality of life is that it is hard—overflowing with struggles and hardships. Yet, through these moments, strength and grace and courage thrive. The Divine One always shows up. Sometimes, He’s in the inner power we find to do what we need to do. Other times, He’s in the person next to us, who is there to lend a helping hand along the journey. Either way, we prevail. We move forward, a little dusty from the bumpy road and scratched from the bramble-strewn pathway, yet clear on who we are and where we are headed.
Warriors. Conquerors. Children of the Light.
Heads high. Backs strong. Hearts light.
I know I’m stronger from the weights I’ve carried. Whether chosen or not, each one has served a purpose in my life, and I’m grateful for each one. I know I will have the grit to carry whatever else is waiting for me to pick up. I’m keeping my eyes open for a chance to help with someone else’s load, too.
I’m moving forward in grace and peace. I’m convinced of the joy coming towards me. Hope is brimming in my heart.
And, friends, I hope and pray the same for you.
However, there is one thing I have decided….
Despite acknowledging the value of weights….
If Nick ever asks me to go on a ‘ruck’….
I’ll, politely yet emphatically, say, “No, thank you.”