This is something that I’ve thought about over the last couple of years. And I’ve mentioned it to a few friends and to Lawrence on more than one occasion. I will preface this by saying that I’ve struggled with low self esteem for a long time. I’ve often felt like a failure at life. Like I’m not a good wife, not a good mother, not a good person. Not good enough is a thought that often plays through my head. This isn’t a pity party. This is my reality and overcoming the negative self talk is something I’m working to change. And then there’s running. It’s something I enjoy. It’s something that I have some talent at. I’m no elite runner. I have no aspirations of being Shalane Flanagan. But I do believe that I have some natural ability that not everyone has. One night I commented to Lawrence that it was such a pointless thing to be good at. How worthless is it that my one talent is being a slightly above average runner? Why couldn’t my talent be something that would make a difference in our lives. Why couldn’t I be Martha Stewart and beautifully decorate our home while serving up tasty home made treats? Why couldn’t I be super mom? Someone who enjoys getting elbows deep in glue and glitter with their kids on a daily basis? And not only do I struggle to see the worth of this thing that I do, I also feel selfish. Running is solitary. It’s time and energy consuming. So, my talent is something that has no real value except taking time and energy away from my family? Great.
Today on my run I was thinking about the parable of the talents. I’ll just add the end here:
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
What does this mean to me? That we don’t pick what we’re good at. We’re naturally strong in some areas and weak in others. We can work at and develop our weak areas but will never be as good as someone born with that particular strength. I could take 100 art classes and while I’m sure my drawing would improve, it would most likely still look like one of my kids did it. No matter how hard I try, my art will never look like <insert favorite artist here>’s. Artistic ability is sadly not one of my strengths. It doesn’t mean we don’t try these things. Of course we do. But we are called to find and develop our strengths and to share them. Not feeling good enough is not an acceptable excuse to ignore the strengths that God gave us.
I’ve thought a lot about what makes running worthwhile for me and I’ll go ahead and list a few. Running has helped me at different points when dealing with depression. I’m a better/nicer/happier person after running which in turn makes me a better wife and mother. I’m proud to be setting a healthy example for my kids. Having them all express some interest in running whether it be joining the cross country team or wanting to run a race for the first time, reminds me how important it is to set a positive example. They’re watching, and I’m so happy that they’ve seen me train, come to my races and want to try for themselves. I’ve made great friends through running. I’ve had the opportunity to help others work toward their running goals through coaching which was incredibly rewarding.
That’s just a snap shot. What running has taught me about myself is harder to put into words. It’s given me confidence. It’s helped to quiet the voice that tells me I’m not good enough and the courage to try new things.
I’m not the fastest runner. But I’m trying to make the most of the talent that I do have so that at the end of the day, I can say, I did the most with what I was given. And I think that’s the point.