Now for the Big Kahuna. The one that tipped the scales.
In October 2015, I completed my first 70.3 mile half-iron distance triathlon. For those of you who don’t know, this is a 3 part endurance event where you swim, bike, and run one after the other. Covering a total of 70.3 miles. 1.2 mile swim in open water, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run (half-marathon). I went into training having just completed a marathon, so in post-marathon shape. And trained specifically for 8 months for this event. I thought if I could only get to the end of it I would be golden. For 8 months I trained very hard. So hard that I knew it would be less difficult than I expected. So my expectations for myself went from finishing, to having a time goal. It was very doable according to how I had trained.
I struggled mentally on the bike as I got passed over and over and over again. By many that started in later swim waves than me. And I did not meet my time goal. I missed it by 18 minutes. I had a “B” goal I gave myself last minute the week of the race in case there was wind or some other factor out of my control, which was under 7 hours. I met the “B” goal. I finished 70.3 miles, and finished strong at that. But I wasn’t “fast enough.” It was a very respectable time (even compared to others in my age group!). But I compared myself with friends I had trained with. I compared myself with others on the course. I felt like my effort and training didn’t match my outcome. I just didn’t “measure up.” The days that followed were an internal struggle. I didn’t fully share what I was feeling with anyone outside of my amazing husband, who listened to my raw emotions and just shook his head in disbelief. And I mustered up the courage to ask myself the question: How can I finish a half-ironman - something very few people on the face of the earth can say that they've done - feeling like it’s not good enough?
external stamp that says: “Here’s your check. You worked today. Your day is accounted for.” In brutal honesty, I personally feel more “enough” on the days where I get paid for my work. More satisfied with myself.
Don't even let me get started on body image. That would take an entire post in and of itself.
Maybe our measuring sticks are wrong. I know mine is. How I long to actually measure up to that stick at the end of a race. Sometimes it’s clear cut, sometimes there are no clear measurements. It’s like a fictitious adequacy stick where the marks are vague and ever changing. But if I do it, if I actually measure up, will it make a difference? I doubt it. It’s like throwing sticks to a hungry wolf.
It’s time to throw out the measuring stick.
Neither one of these places is a healthy place to live.
Some believe we can fulfill ourselves, with ourselves. I don't believe that. We can try, and try, and try again. Apart from Jesus it’s just not there. I've tried. And failed. And been left wanting.
What makes me enough is simple. I'm enough because Jesus paid the price for me to be enough. Period. And though I became enough when I began my relationship with Jesus 20 years ago, I haven't been fully accessing it. I've known that all my insufficiency are covered and filled by His grace, but I haven't believed it. It’s like a fish spending its entire life on the bottom floor of the ocean because it doesn’t know it’s capable of swimming.
Now am I saying that EVERYTHING I do is coming from this belief that I’m not enough? No, I’m not. There are many things I now do from the place of feeling adequate. One of those is being a mom. It’s not perfect, but I feel like I’ve finally found my groove as a mom and I’m really okay in my role as one. I do have flair ups where I start to freak out and feel like it’s “Not enough”, but I can flush it with the help of praying friends and my husband.
I want to live from this place of satiation of being “enough.” I want to finish a race and feel the joy and satisfaction from the accomplishment! I’ve only been able to feel it a couple times, but I want to feel it with every one regardless of what place I finish in. Regardless of my performance.
I want to look at the girl in the mirror staring back at me without thoughts of how she doesn't measure up.
Does believing I'm enough mean that I'm going to let go of crazy goals and enter into a life complacency? NO. It's quite the opposite! I've found that believing with every cell in my body that I am ENOUGH in Jesus will fuel my drive to go after things, HARD things. I can set a goal, work hard for the goal; and then regardless of what happens I can know that I've already won! I'm already pleasing. Already sufficient. It takes the pressure off. Because I know that sink or swim, I AM ENOUGH.
“Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!”
“O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”