The Next Level

As my line ran over to Paul Lacoste’s station this morning, we noticed several quick-foot ladders. That meant lots of running and more raised heart rates. Mine was humming like a sewing machine already, hovering in the 140’s to 170’s. My lungs also were working overtime to get the proper amount of oxygen into my bloodstream. My brain was focused on the drill at hand.

So we began.

Paul stopped us for a moment and told us a very simple, but powerful truth. During the hard times is when you grow the most. When you are tired and things are going wrong, that’s when your resilience is tested. And forged.

Paul knows what he is talking about. If you’ve seen him, he looks a bit like Mr. Incredible. He’s always been able to gut his way through his problems with strength and effort. That is until a mosquito bit him. A man who looks like he could stop a train was brought to his knees by a tiny insect carrying a tiny virus. West Nile nearly killed him. Then an infection brought on by it and damage to his legs tried again. And did I mention he also had cancer? Yeah. Plus a divorce.

Job would’ve read about Paul and though, “Wow.”

But Paul found a strength outside of himself. He found a deep and profound faith. He figured out the solutions to his problems required him to believe in something bigger than himself. Paul found God. And God changed Paul.

There was one point when I thought I was going to find God during the drill — or at least see Jesus firsthand. But I survived. They didn’t have to bury me on the 20-yard-line of the Madison Central Football field. And I walked away a little stronger.

Like our body, our mind and soul also need a workout. That’s why the tough times are so important. It’s an opportunity to be pushed out of our comfort zone, build resilience and gain knowledge. Pain is a great motivator.

I used to avoid pain. And that, in the long run, caused more pain.

Paul talks about “The Next Level” a lot. We yell it in unison after every drill. It’s part of his logo. But after this morning, I understood it even more. It’s about a stronger heart. Because with a strong heart, it’s easier to navigate the hard times.

About Marshall Ramsey