Saturday was quite the experience for me. I engaged in my first long distance relay run. We ran from Jefferson, IA to Des Moines, IA. It was a 75 mile run. We had a team of 8 which left us with the responsibility of running 2-3 times during the course of the day. It was a rather interesting day because we had typical Iowa weather. It was breezy and chilly to start the day. We had thunderstorms by midday and by the evening it was hot and muggy (at least for those of us from Iowa). I had one of the harder legs in the race. I was responsible for the longest single run at 5.8 miles and a grueling 4.4 mile run that had a few big hills and a long climb up another small hill. My first run went well. I thought I timed myself wonderfully. I felt good when it was over and was under the 10 minute mile mark (which is my ½ marathon pace). While I did have to run in the thunderstorm I was excited that I was able to put some distance between me and the runners behind me. My second run did not go as well as I had hoped. It was the hardest 4.4 miles I have ever run in my life. I have heard about people “hitting walls” while running and I think I really hit it for the 1st time. It was painful in every way. My lungs burned, my legs burned. And I was getting overheated. I hadn’t properly eaten or taken in liquids that day. As a result, I stopped sweating. If you know me, you know I sweat a lot when running. As I crossed the finish line, I collapsed on the ground. I gave everything I had to finishing that race. But the reality was, I felt broken. I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk away. And I honestly felt that I had no business running in any kind of race. When I got home, my legs started cramping. I couldn’t walk the 10 feet from my ride, to my truck without painful cramping. As a result, I dropped my “finisher” glass. As I looked at the broken glass on the sidewalk I realized I felt just like that glass. I was broken. I was defeated. I felt like I had nothing worthwhile offering.
What a defeatist mindset. I thought I had gotten beyond all of this “quitter,” “loser” talk 2 years ago when I convinced myself that I can. And yet, there I was honestly contemplating if I should just quit now because I couldn’t run 4.4 miles. What happened? I began comparing myself, and my achievements to those on my team, those running 5 minute miles and those running circles around me. Of course I am not as good as someone who has been running for 15 years. Of course I am not as healthy as a person who has taken care of themselves their whole lives. I spent 30 years of my life eating unhealthy foods, being lazy, etc. I have only been living healthy for the last 3 years. And a solid year of that was spent getting all that bad weight off of me.
So, I realized yesterday, I was not that broken glass. I am not worthless to my team, to my family, to my local church, and most importantly to God. The broken glass was just a slip of the fingers. It was not some omen. It was not some message from God that I should just walk away. Yes, my confidence was broken. But it was broken because I was looking at life in the wrong way. It makes me wonder how often those of us struggle with self worth do this to ourselves. Are we not a good provider because we don’t have Trump’s disposable income? Are we not a good housekeeper because our home doesn’t look like Martha Stewart’s? Are we not a good parent because our children are not the best at everything they do? Are we a failure at work because someone else does it better? No. No we are not. Stop comparing yourself to the best. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. When we do that we end up slipping and remain shattered on the sidewalk.