This weekend I ran my very first marathon. Yes, THE marathon. All 26.2 miles of it. It was hot. I wasn't as prepared as I wanted. I feared my knees would give out, my mental strength would buckle, or a hundred other issues would impede my progress. But I pushed through the heat and the boredom and the mental uncertanty and finished, earning my little metal and the bragging rights of saying I'm one of the 1% of Americans that have finished a marathon.
Did I win? No! Came in 3822 out of nearly 4000. Did I get any money from it? No, and in fact, spent nearly 1/2 a paycheck in racing fees, hotel accomodations, and food. Am I in better shape? Hardly. With blisters on my pinkie toes and exhausted legs, I'll be wincing for a few days. SO WHAT'S THE POINT?
In this life, we are tested by many outside sources: schools, parents, coaches, teachers, governments, bosses, etc. When we pass these tests, the world tells us we are "worthy" in that area. But when we start to rely on validation of ourselves from outside, we become hollow. A "praised pinata" so to speak. We begin to doubt that we really are worthy. We begin to think that we have everyone fooled but inside we know better. One good "whack" and everyone will be able to see how empty we are inside.
To overcome this hollow feeling, we need to test ourselves. Running is one way to do that. You have to train your body to find the right stride and the right cadence, which is hard work, but not nearly the bulk of the test. It's your mind that tells you to stop. That you're not up to the test. That you're weak, not able, or worthy. Overcoming that mental block is the key to knowing you are better than what the world thinks. That there is something wonderful and marvelous about you that no one can see.
But God can see it. And once we love ourselves, we can accept God's love at a deeper level. We can understand that God sees the whole person, not just the outside that the world praises, but the inside that we have tested and made stronger. Once we accept God's love, we're more willing to share it with others and to test ourselves in spiritual ways, so that we can be a strong example to the world of what it means to be a Christian.
So from now on, when faced with a challenge, I can say to myself, "If I can run a marathon, I can ___"
Now I challenge you: find your marathon. Whatever it is you've always wanted (or now suddenly want) but for whatever reason haven't been able to attain. Go after it with all the physical and emotional and spiritual strength you can muster. Your friends and family may support you but don't let their "yay" or "nay" be your support. Run your own race. Be a whole person. And you'll be amazed at what you accomplish.