Last week I was visiting with a co-worker about self-image and how often the mirror can be an enemy rather than just a piece of glass. I shared that I hate looking in the mirror, even more than when I weighed 250 pounds (right now I’m around 180). I look at that face on the wall and see someone who never does enough: doesn’t sleep enough, doesn’t work out enough, doesn’t study enough, doesn’t serve enough, doesn’t love enough. But somehow she watches enough television and wanders the internet enough. My self-esteem has experienced a negative relationship to my general health improvements, which doesn’t make much sense to me.
This was the conversation that I had floating around in my mind during the first few miles of the Shamrock Run 15K on Sunday. It was my first time trying this particular event; last year I completed the 8K and before that it had been two years of 5K adventures. But I wanted the bottle opener medal, despite concerns about the Terwilliger hill that was promised about half-way through. As I neared that “hill” (seriously, mountain would be a better term), I was reflecting back on the workplace conversation and the mirror plague I had been experiencing a bit more since falling off the wagon at bit in December. Here I was, participating in a 9.3 mile run, huffing and puffing up a mountain alongside 8,000+ other athletes, and all I could feel was that I was a fraud. At one point we had to cross a street where cars were lined up to pass through at the police officer’s approval. I mentally begged him to wait until “the fat girl had gotten through.”
On Sunday I questioned this internal negative dialogue and wondered how I could change it. How could I learn to view myself with the same grace that others gave me and that I tried to give them in return? How could I see the positive developments in my life like I get to witness in the lives of my students? How could I forgive my stumbles as God forgives them? I don’t have answers to these questions yet, only acknowledgement of some right questions to ask. In the meanwhile, I will strive to name the demons / voices / doubts / lies in my head for what they are so they cannot overwhelm the victories. This year my running is not about a time on the clock, its about the battles and victories inside.