The Lie That You Can Always Be Better or More

The Lie that You Can Always Be Better

Last Monday night I set my alarm for 5:30am to get up for a 6am workout class. My plan was to go to that class, then come home, shower, get ready, go to to work and then go to an afternoon meeting.

This was my Tuesday plan.

What happened instead? Well, Monday night I couldn’t sleep because I was having one of those can’t-shut-your-brain off kinda nights, so when 5:30am rolled around, I hadn’t been asleep long enough to be functional at 6am.

I eventually rolled out of bed around 7am and felt frustrated with myself for not sleeping well and failing to wake up in time. So I resolved to attend the 10:30am workout class instead.

I was going to exercise on Tuesday no matter what.

I show up for the 10:30am class and notice everyone seems to be really sweaty and tired already. Am I late? Did I already miss the warm up? I look at the instructor and mouth, “This is the 10:30, right?”

No, she mouths back. This is the 9:45.

There is no 10:30 class. In my sleep deprived stupor I made up that time and arrived 45 minutes late to a one-hour class.

I left the gym, tired and defeated. I went home and, unable to let go of the idea that I needed to workout today, I went for a run in the sweltering Nashville June heat and almost died.

By the time this shenanigan was over, so was half of my day. Driving to my afternoon appointment, I beat myself up for not only missing the 6am class but for thwarting my entire schedule and wasting time.

I was very mean to myself last Tuesday.

If I had been kind to myself that morning when I couldn’t drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn, I would have simply let go of working out that day and proceeded with other activities.

Instead, I ignored the little voice inside that was quietly tapping me saying, “It’s ok. Let this one go. Burn calories tomorrow or the next day, or whenever.” Because this nice little voice inside me is often overcome by the loud angry YOU CAN ALWAYS BE BETTER voice that also lives inside me.

This voice says things like, “You’re a failure at sleep, and working out and you better make this right.” And it says lots of other mean and untrue things all the time. It’s exhausting to listen to, but I do anyways.

As long as I keep listening, it will keep talking because the thing with the YOU CAN ALWAYS BE BETTER voice is, it is never satisfied. You can feed it and feed it and make it to the gym at 6am every single day and still, it would want more from you.

But you wouldn’t listen to someone in your life you knew was mean and a liar would you? So why listen to the mean liar inside of you?

When we choose not to listen to our harsh voices, we starve them. They can’t survive if we’re not doing what they tell us to do. And eventually if we starve them long enough, they go away.

So this is what I’m trying to do now when it comes to the gym, and my body and a lot of different things. I’m ignoring the mean me, and paying more attention to the quiet and kind me. I might miss more 6am classes, but at least I’ll like myself at the end of the day.

You Are More than You Think You Are

You Are More than You Think You Are

I think we often define ourselves by the things we believe we are not just as much as we define ourselves by the things we are. I am a publicist. I am a preacher’s daughter. I am a writer. I am not a musician. I am not a chef. I am not an athlete.

It’s funny I’ve always told people I’m not an athlete because I played sports from age 5 to 18 and I played intramural volleyball each year in college. I even tried playing in a couple of leagues after college, and I’ve run regularly for about 12 years now. Yet I always give this disclaimer about me and my athletic abilities and tell people I’m not a very good athlete, never was. I decided that because I never got MVP, I was mediocre and a mediocre athlete isn’t an athlete.

The way we rule things out of our capabilities can be so destructive. Maybe one person one time told you you’re not a great singer, or that you really can’t pull off skinny jeans, or you look funny when you kick a soccer ball and for years to come you don’t sing, and you don’t play soccer, and you don’t wear skinny jeans. For me, I participate in athletics but refuse to get too competitive, thinking I’m not very good so I shouldn’t try too hard.

This was my plan for the most recent half marathon I ran. I never set time goals for races because I feel like I don’t deserve to. As if keeping one’s pace is only for true athletes. But this time I decided my hard work and training deserved to be paced and tested, and I was tired of always finishing races at the same pace. So one day I quietly declared my dream finish time. I set a goal.

And on race day, for 13.1 miles, I forced myself to take steps toward this goal. I didn’t say, “I can only do what I can do” or “It’s ok if you have to walk.” I didn’t say that because I knew I was capable of running the whole time and running a little faster than usual. So instead, I told myself things I thought real athletes probably tell themselves: “You can do this. Lean into the hill. This is where it counts!” As cheesy as it all sounds, it worked. For 13.1 miles I made the conscious decision to believe in myself. I ran hard and I prayed more than I usually do. And after what felt like forever, I crossed the finish line 10 minutes under my dream time.

I am still asking who ran that race. I’ve never run that fast in my life, and I flew high on endorphins for about 12 days afterward.

At the risk of over spiritualizing something, I believe God was proving a point about my identity in that race. He proved that we can really limit our lives when we declare aloud we are not ____. Because when we do this, we are deciding who we are rather than allowing Christ to be who we are. If Christ is our identity, we really have no right to say we are one thing and not another.

I’ve noticed the courage gained from that half marathon has carried over into other areas of my life. It has begun to chip away at negatives I’ve allowed to define me like, “He would never be interested in me. I’m not outspoken in meetings. I hate public speaking.” These are not truths. Really, they are fears. And I am seeing them, while slowly, lose power and become smaller, and this is the hope that we all have, already in us.

In 2013, I Will Run

running

Running is not exactly a New Year’s resolution for me. I’ve been running regularly for about 11 years. I’m not fast. I’ve never run a full marathon. I don’t do sprint training or wear pretty Lululemon running clothes. But I know running’s rhythm. My body knows it. It’s familiar: slip on running shoes, turn on iPod, lock the door behind me, feet hit pavement, I’m off. I hate the first five minutes then before I know it, more minutes have passed and I’m circling home.

I know running.

I spent New Year’s Eve with friends who know me well and who I know well. A few of us couldn’t say we were the biggest fans of our 2012 and breathed a small sigh of relief when midnight rolled around. We huddled up with our champagne and vowed to look forward.

In the grand scheme, our lives are pretty wonderful, whether it’s the year 2012 or another one. But there are things that can keep a year from being your best, and it was nice to be in the company of those dear to me who agreed we should warmly embrace January 1, 2013.

And on January 1, 2013, I found myself hungering for a good run while I traveled from Austin to San Antonio to Nashville. Sometimes it’s my body that hungers for a run, and sometimes it’s my soul.

So I am confident many days in 2013 will contain a solid half hour of running ahead, even if I’m having a hard time looking ahead. It will whip my eyes in the direction they need to be looking. For if my feet are moving forward, my head will eventually have to also, right?

I’m ok with this not really setting a resolution thing. I’m focusing on the basics, clinging to a familiar routine.

It’ll be good.