Monday, October 18, 2010

Finish Line

I have been toying with this theme of Finish Lines for a bit now, and so far have hesitated to put my thoughts into words on the blog.  But today I feel compelled to share with you these thoughts.  Perhaps today of all days, because today I am ready to hear my own words and apply them to my own life.  It is no secret on this blog that I struggle with body-image issues, negative self-talk and disordered eating.  And while it is a constant battle, I do believe I have made great strides in living in freedom from these evils.  But I am still held back.  Held away from complete liberation and happiness in my own skin.  And perhaps part of the reason I cannot feel free is because I am tied to this idea of a Finish Line. 

I have all sorts of "finish lines" in my mind.  If I can just lose 10 pounds (finish line), if I train for this race (finish line), if I can just accomplish this one work task (finish line), if I can just get through today without eating a dessert (finish line), if I can just make it to the end of the week (finish line), if I can complete this to-do list (finish line), if I can just cook this one dish (finish line).  They pop up in all areas of my life...and for most these finish lines provide a goal, a direction, a push.  But these finish lines can also restrain one from living life. 

To get to a finish line successfully, you must be present in the in-between.  That in-between is life and that is what makes me who I am and makes you who you are.  If we skip from one start line to the next finish line, we miss out on all the excitement in between. 

Think of your most recent race, can you even remember the in-between?  At the Triple Lakes Trail Run, I was so focused on just being finished, I forgot to enjoy the beautiful Fall weather, the scenic lake and rolling hills, the chill of the breeze that floated through the trees...

I read a blog yesterday about a woman who ran a half-marathon last weekend.  She would call it her redemption run after an unsuccessful marathon the weekend previous.  She chose to run this race without a time goal, without a watch, and without any inhibition.  Her goal, "To cross the finish line with a smile."  What I loved about Ashley's race recap was how much detail she gave of the in-between, "We were totally out in the mountains. Tons of trees. Farmland. Fresh air. Not-so fresh air (cows!!!). Animals like horses and sheep. I loved it. Then, I came upon the first hill around mile 5, I think. Yikes. After that, there was yet another hill before the 10K mark. Then a downhill. Then some flat. Then another hill." You can read more of Ashley's race recap here.  She goes on to share about more hills, passing other runners and the helpful volunteers.  Now that is a runner who pays attention to the in-between and appreciates every minute.

I believe this whole notion of the in-between also applies to many who diet or who are unhappy with their current weight.  On my worst days I live in this cycle of eat-regret-repeat.  And I find myself thinking...when I'm 10 pounds lighter, or when I am no longer an obsessive eater, then I will be happy.  I live for that finish line, thinking that when I cross it everything will be different, everything will change, and I will be ok. 

So what happens when I cross the marathon finish line in January?  (see photo above!)  Does my life stop there?  Is that the end?  Am I done running forever?  Will I have reached a weight goal and then get to eat whatever I want for the rest of eternity? 

No, no, no and no.  It is not the end, but only a beginning.  A healthy life does not have a start and an end.  It is a journey and completion is only on the day my Lord takes me to heaven to live with Him.  Other than that large and obvious finish line, there can't be one.  I know that even if I lost 10 pounds, I am still me.  And if I am not happy with me, I have more to lose than 10 pounds.  I know that healthy living doesn't stop with reaching a goal weight or a goal distance.  I must find a happy weight and maintain it with same healthy lifestyle that brought me to it.  I mustn't punish myself day to day with regrets, but learn to work in healthy food with a few indulgent items to keep me sane.  And I absolutely must find joy in each minute of every day and stop living for the finish-line.  Instead I must live the in-between.

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