Racing with Demons

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.

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