Identity Crisis

Every time I run, I have an identity crisis. Part of me thinks, “It feels so good to be running! I love this!” Unfortunately, that part is often drowned out by the other part of me, which often thinks variations of the following:

I wonder how much my fat is jiggling right now.”
“Is my shirt riding up in the back? I wish I could lose this stinking weight so my clothes would fit better.”
“If I were faster, this run would be over a lot sooner.

Even though I am out there doing the physical activity of running, I often don’t feel like a runner. I don’t look like a runner. I am not skinny. If a stranger were to look at me, I am fairly certain that he or she would not think, “She looks like a runner.” Whenever someone in my “real life” finds out that I run, I immediately grow self-conscious about it and wonder if that person is thinking to themselves that I don’t look anything like a runner.

I know this line of thinking is foolish, as the reality is that no one spends as much time thinking about me as I do. No one really cares whether I run or not. So why do I obsess over how I look, both as a runner and in general?

Last night when Charlotte and I got home, she asked to go run with me. So I changed my clothes, and we set out. We ended up not running much at all and instead walked holding hands. Towards the end of our walk, I challenged her to race me back to the house, and so she started running, hair flying behind her, eyes alight with joy, laughter spilling out of her as I closed in on her. At one point she said, “You’re the fastest ever, Mama!” Even though I knew that to be far from true, my heart was so encouraged. When Charlotte looks at me, she doesn’t know that I don’t look like a stereotypical runner. She just sees her mama, who also happens to run, and she loves me. In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about how I looked or what people would think of my stride or my running posture or my weight. I was too busy caught up in the joy of seeing my daughter love something that I love.

There’s a line in the movie Chariots of Fire, when Eric Liddell describes his passion for running by saying, “When I run, I feel His [God’s] pleasure.” The pleasure of God is what I should be after, not the approval of man. I want to chase after God, and I want Charlotte to do the same.

I pray that Charlotte and I have a lot more runs like these. I pray that I pass on to her a love of running and a love of Christ. And I pray that I can run the race of faith–the only race that matters–well.

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