Friday, July 22, 2011

Day Seventy Two: Pressure

One week from tomorrow I will get on an airplane bound for San Francisco where I will run my first marathon.  26.2 miles.  I've gone as far as 23 miles and I am still not really convinced I can do this.

I have put a lot of pressure on myself with this one.  that kind of pressure is pretty much the opposite of what a sabbatical is about, I'm told.  apparently, I'm supposed to be resting and rejuvenating, getting myself prepared for the next seven (or so) years of parish ministry.  There is enough pressure from all directions in my vocation and family life, I shouldn't be adding my own artificially-induced expectations to the mix.

But that's just what I've done.  The closer I get to this event, the more I realize that, friends, I'm going to be REALLY upset and disappointed in myself if I don't make it. My goal: finish the damn thing before they clean up the course.  It seems like something I should be able to do. But I'm just not sure.  In fact, I'm pretty unsure.  And I'm scared.  I'm scared that I'm going to come back from this great gift of three months of restful, worry-free, happy time feeling strung out, knotted up and sad, all because I didn't make a goal that has become very important to me.

So why do we do this to ourselves?  I preach sermons about and really do believe that we are forgiven, loved and freed by a loving God that knows each of us to be worthy despite our own shortcomings.  I mean it.  I do.  But when it comes to my own shortcomings, or even my own POSSIBLE shortcomings (heck, this marathon hasn't even happened yet!), I can't let go of my own need to prove again and again that I am indeed worthy of something.  I'm proving it to myself, of course, but if God believes it and I know that, then why can't I believe it, too?

God has that divine ability to see those things in us that we are blind to, even--or maybe especially-- in ourselves.  And so we, in our very shortsighted human way, set up tests for ourselves: I will be a better parent if..., I will make more money if..., my spouse will love me more if...,  Running this marathon is just one more way I am trying to prove myself worthy to keep walking on this planet, trying to feel accomplished.  I'm not God and I'm just not capable of loving myself the way that God loves me.  So I fill the space with these little tests.  My hope for myself as I get older (and wiser?!?) is that I will feel the need to test myself less and believe in my untested goodness more.

In the mean time, I have a marathon to run!

1 comment:

  1. Good luck, Noelle!! I know you can do it! I felt the same way right before my first half-marathon in April... like I wasn't sure if I could finish. And even though my goal was to finish without stopping, and I wound up having to walk part of the last mile, it was still ok and I didn't beat myself up over it. So see, even if things don't go as well as you want them too, it will be a good lesson in that whole perfectionism/measuring up deal you're talking about in this post. :O)