I decided a long time ago that running outside is harder than running on a treadmill. I’d love to be able to make this a short and sweet blog with the next sentence being, “but one day I decided that that was all in my head and ran four miles on the road like it was nothing! The end.” But alas, I was right. Running on the road is harder. But I’m wondering if I’m right about how much harder it is.
My preference has always been to run on the treadmill, and while I am training, and will continue to train, for outside races, I can be quite the indoor girl. I like the steady pace and the fans over my head. *shrug* However, coronavirus forcing my gym to close has forced me out on the roads sooner than I was planning to get there. On my first run since then, as I was planning my distance, every thought included the phrase, “if I can.”
I was thinking about blocks, not miles, folks. But the fact that I would be putting those miles on my shoes outside automatically told me I should lower my expectations for myself. And while I am a firm believer in giving yourself grace, I am also a believer in setting yourself up for success, and that that starts in your mind.
So, when you say you “can’t” do something, what does that really mean? I think it’s shorthand for something a little more complicated than, “cannot.” When you say it to someone else, like when you’re asked to make plans but you have a conflict, you might say, “Sorry, I can’t,” but what you really mean is, “I’ve made another commitment and I’m choosing to honor that.” Or when you’re asked to make a compromise you’re not comfortable with, “I can’t” means, “I have a moral objection to that.” Those alternatives sound stronger, right? Less passive.
But what about when you say it to yourself?
“I’d like to run a marathon but I can’t.”
“I know I should quit smoking but I can’t.”
“It would help my family if I changed jobs but I can’t.”
“I want to go back to school but I can’t.”
In that case, what you mean is more like, “I’m not physically capable at this time,” “this addiction is powerful and I don’t feel I can conquer it,” “I’m afraid to start something new,” or “I’m uncomfortable with change.” And I think, more often than we’d like to admit, “what would other people think if I tried and failed?”
Sometimes when I try something new, I tell myself, “I can’t,” way too early in the process because I get scared of being seen failing and I convince myself that I’m just being honest with myself. That “I can’t” is essentially, “this is not available to me and I acknowledge that.” It seems easier to have an oh-well-it’s-just-not-for-me attitude than it is to say, “this is going to be really hard for me and people might see me fail before I meet my goal but it means something to me so I’m going to risk being uncomfortable.”
And you know what the worst part is? I’ve drug God into that negative self talk before. If something doesn’t come to me easily, there have been times that I’ve resorted to thinking, “oh well, it must not be in God’s plan for me to succeed at this, so I’ll just move on to something He does have laid out for me.” Feel free to take a sec and count all the problems with that. You may need your fingers and toes. I mean, Jesus did say, “with God all things are easy,” right? No? That’s not the verse? Dang.*
I’m still new to hearing God’s voice. But one of the first things I ever heard clearly from Him was, “I didn’t say it would be easy. I said it would be possible.” Here it is another way: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)
You can. Stop relying on just yourself. Stop thinking it should be easy. Think of yourself as a person who succeeds, even if it takes longer than you want, even if it’s uncomfortable. Find joy in that discomfort, because you are getting stronger. You are a goal crusher and with Jesus by your side, you cannot be stopped.
I’m here for you, girl. And I’m rooting for you.
*Matthew 19:26 is actually, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'”