"Those Negative Thoughts?
They're Liars, Liars, Pants on Fire"
The hard pavement feels like a punch with every step. The hill’s steepness taunts me and tries to steal my breath. But what really tempts me to quit are the accusations that follow me: “You’re going so slow. You’re not doing a good job. This must be your worst effort ever.”
I always believed doubts and discouragement like that until I discovered something: I would finish my “terrible” run only to discover my time had gotten faster. Huh.
Then I started looking closer at other times in my life when negative thoughts tried to trip me up and I found the same principle applied. In the moments when we want to give up, when we feel weak and exhausted, when we think we can’t do it…we’re often getting stronger.
We’re not tired because we’re failing; we’re tired because we’re fighting.
We’re not weary because we’re weak; we’re weary because we’re winning a hard battle.
We’re not struggling because we’re quitters: we’re struggling because we’re refusing to give up.
So I’m slowly learning to respond differently. When those unwelcome thoughts show up (and, yep, they still do) I try to tell myself something like, “This must mean I’m running harder and faster than ever before--it just doesn’t feel like it right now.”
Let’s not allow ourselves to be convinced we should give up because we think we’re not doing well enough. Instead let’s recognize the strain and pain for what they are—signs of growth. Resistance usually means we are breaking through what has held us back and pushing with all our might toward what God has for us.
“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
In the place between what is comfortable and what feels like it may kill us is where we become all we’re created to be.
I complete my run and, sure enough, my time has gotten a bit better. I’m not taking that victory lightly. I’ve earned every teeth-gritting second of it. I’m covered in sweat, smell terrible and probably looked about as graceful as a crazed monkey by my last step. But I didn’t quit. And I didn’t keel over. In this world, that’s the best we can do some days.
The crowd of accusers, doubters and discouragers is finally silent and now it’s my turn to speak. I face the path behind me and declare to all the lies that tried to stop me, “I’m stronger than I seem.”
Then I turn on my heels and walk away.
I’ve won for today.