What’s your pain threshold?

I’ve been told I’m pretty tough … for a girl. I can work physically hard (I’ve landscaped, drywalled, remodeled, etc.), can rough it without a shower or hairbrush for days in the middle of the Colorado wilderness, will eat just about anything (and I’ve eaten some weird stuff, peeps), and can endure nearly 24 hours of childbirth to bring a 9 ½ lb boy into the world. Without makeup or a manicure.

After Haiti, I’m not so sure anymore. Two or three days into our trip and we discovered the two bottles of bug spray we’d been dousing ourselves in weren’t working. By then it was too late—the damage was done. Although Ryan and Troy had a few bites, the bugs held a particular fondness for Jacob and me. At one point I counted 30 welts on one lower leg, some of the size of golf balls. I’m guessing I had near 100 on my entire body. Hard to imagine, but Jacob’s condition was even worse.

The bites became severely inflamed by the heat and humidity, aggravated further by the daily hiking through lush banana groves, marshy swamps and sugar cane fields. The water and dirt were polluted by animal and human waste, making the risk of infection high. Multiple times a days we had to clean the bites and treat them with topical antibiotic. Add to that the constant itching and burning and the general exhaustion … and I hit my threshold. At that moment the tears came and I uttered words I’ve said only a couple times in my whole life:

I can’t do this.

With the admission came a wave of disappointment. Had I come all the way from Colorado to Haiti to give up that easily? My dad taught me early on that “I can’t” is never an option. But this time circumstances and misery pushed me to the max. It was only Tuesday with a week left in our trip. I didn’t know if I had the mental toughness to take it.

I had a decision to make. I could stay in my room, nursing my wounds. Everyone would certainly understand. Or I could suck it up, pray like a mad woman and find beautiful Haitian faces to absorb my focus.

I chose the latter. I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from that moment forward. It wasn’t. Over a week later and I’m still dealing with lingering physical ailments related to the trip (be grateful I’m keeping details to myself). But, by some miracle (thank you, God!), I managed to push past the “can’t” and take a small step forward toward “can.” And before you know it, I was having the time of my life. Uncomfortable, yes. Worth it, a bigger yes.

What’s the “can’t” that’s keeping you from the “can” … and, are you willing to push past the discomfort to get to the other side?

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