Two years ago I had the brilliant idea of trying to run three marathons in one year. Off the bat, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “There’s nothing brilliant about that idea.” You are completely right. It was actually a pretty stupid idea, but at the time it sounded like a fun challenge. With the help of a close friend and a certified athletic trainer, both of whom have accomplished the likes of The Boston Marathon, I accomplished my goal. I ran The Charlevoix Marathon, The Honolulu Marathon, and The Bay Shore Marathon up in Traverse City, Michigan. I did it! I proved to my self and I proved to the rest of the world that I can run three marathons in one year!
But here’s the thing… Who freaking cares?
And here’s the answer… No one. No one cares.
What I’m now beginning to realize about my three marathons, and about a whole lot of other things in my life, is that so much of what I choose to do is based on trying to impress myself, to impress others and impress God. Now before you get all hot and bothered, let me be clear: I’m not saying that running a marathon is inherently bad. I’m not saying your instagram account is inherently bad. I’m certainly not saying that pursuing your dream is bad either. What I am saying, is that for me, I am at a place in my life where I am asking myself this simple question:
I chose to run three marathons in a year. Why? Why did I choose to do something that ended up hurting my body and making me increasingly anxious? I just recently realized, that I’ve been choosing to look at instagram, take pictures for instagram, and edit pictures on Snapseed for my instgram so that they will look just a little better than your pictures on instagram (I now realize that your pictures are way more artsy than mine…). Why? Why do I waste so much time doing something that doesn’t matter? It recently dawned on me (like last week) that I’ve been choosing to have one, two, and sometimes six drinks starting as soon as my last “responsibility” is done for the day. Why? Why do I find myself literally numbing myself every single night?
I think it boils down to one simple truth:
I feel the need to prove to myself, to prove to others and to prove to God that I’m enough.
And the irony is that as I try to prove to you and prove to me that I’m enough, I’m left feeling anxious, exhausted and numb.
For me, the marathons, instagram, and alcohol = Numb.
The problem with numbing yourself is that while you are numbing the parts of yourself that are painful, scary, and broken, you are also numbing yourself to your goodness and to your beauty. It’s a terrible cycle. I found myself spinning out of control. In some ways my addictions to marathons, instagram and alcohol made the dark a little less miserable, and at some points they even made me feel pretty good! But my addictions also made it increasingly difficult to see The Light.
And I would argue the only thing more terrifying than the dark, is an inability, no matter how hard you try, to see The Light: to see the beauty; to see in some tangible way that you are worth it.
I’m still trying to figure this stuff out – but what I’m beginning to realize is that as I distance myself from the marathons (I run two or three miles at a time now), the instagram (I deleted the app, then I added the app, and I recently deleted the app again) and the alcohol (I haven’t had a drink in a week now… here’s to praying I can keep that going for awhile), I feel more.
I feel more now: The bad and the good. I see more now: The dark and the light. And I long for more now. There is a lot of brokenness in the world. I can’t deny that terrible brokenness. But there is also so much more beauty than I had ever realized.
It seems to me that Satan wants the brokenness to overwhelm us. He wants our brokenness to send us into the uncontrollable tailspin of trying to prove to ourselves and to prove to the world that we are enough! He wants to send you and me into an uncontrollable tailspin, a nose-dive even, into the darkness.
Jesus knows the brokenness will overwhelm us. He knows the darkness is terribly scary. That’s why He defeated the darkness. He didn’t say, “I am the light of the world” just because it was a cute thing to say (or so that I have a caption for my “sunrise” instagram picture). No, He said, “I am the light of the world and I have defeated the darkness!” So that you and I can experience the light.
And in the light, maybe, just maybe, we will begin to realize the ultimate truth that we are worth it – each one of us is worth dying for.
I’m just now realizing that I don’t have to prove that I’m worth it. I’ve also been asking a lot of people to help me in this process of letting go of the things that I so often use to prove myself.
I don’t need marathons. I don’t need instagram. I don’t need alcohol.
But I do need you. And we need each other’s help as we do our best to let go and surrender to the light, to the beauty, and to His love.