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    The Sting of Stretching (@JosephLalonde)

    I’m thankful today for Joe Lalonde.  Joe is guest blogging today about a recent stretching experience in his life.  His post is featured as part of The Network.  Joe writes an excellent leadership blog.  You can find more information about Joe along with the links to his blog in his bio which follows this post.

    I’ve always been a fan of stretching. It’s helped me grow and reach my potential.

    However, the last couple of weeks have tested my stretching limit.

    Upward Salute – Urdhva Hastasana - Person performs mystical "Sun Salutation" yoga stretching exercise on Morro Strand "Church of Kelp"Image by Mike Baird via Flickr

    I’ve experienced so much stretching I don’t know how I’m coping with it.

    Last month we had to make a tough choice and put one of our beloved dogs down.  My dad was hospitalized after three visits to the emergency room.

    It feels like life has been stretching and stretching me. And it’s been painful.

    Tears seem to continuously stream from my eyes. Sleep comes but it is not restoring. And there’s such a heaviness on my heart.

    There are times that stretching stings. It creates a pain that is almost unbearable.

    And yet there can be awesome results from the stretching.

    I’m becoming more attuned to feeling the pain of others: I try my best to understand how others are feeling but I can fall flat in this area. The stretching I experienced with my dog has opened up a new avenue of feelings that focuses on the loss others are feeling.

    There’s now a connection that I’m able to share with those grieving over a major loss. It’s a blessing a curse.

    I’ve become more open with my feelings: Realizing how fleeting our time on this earth can be, I’m stretched to share my feelings more. Especially with my wife.

    Nightly I weep and nightly I try to pour out my feelings to my wife. I’m feeling more broken than ever but there’s also the feeling of openness.

    I’m learning what’s really important: Losing my dog and almost losing my dad has given me a sense of urgency with how I should live my life. It needs to be lived with unction. With a passion that’s unrivaled.

    It’s also showing me that I need to spend time with those that I love. And to show them that I love them and value their lives.

    Don’t neglect this fact.

    The stretching has been painful. Honestly, I don’t like it so much right now.

    Yet it’s helping me to become a better man. A better son. A better husband.

    I’m not sure if you’ve experienced stretching like this in the past. It’s so difficult I pray you don’t have to experience it as well.

    The truth is, we will all have to experience loss and the threat of loss.

    Still, I know you can survive the stretching and come out better. Don’t let the pain destroy you. Let it grow you.

    Question: What have you learned from the sting of the stretch? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

    This is a guest post by Joseph Lalonde. He is a youth leader at Oak Crest Church of God and leadership blogger at JMLalonde.com. Joseph shares leadership tools and encourages you to become a better leader. Connect with him on Twitter or at his blog.