First things first, I am not a runner.
In fact, for a large portion of my life running was the enemy. I remember coming up with endless excuses in high school gym class to avoid the sweaty sport and literally having panic attacks before basketball conditioning.
However, in May 2011, I ran my first (and only) half marathon. I trained faithfully with the help of my marathoner college roommate. I finished the race on a muggy Saturday morning over 6 years ago. I always thought I would run more races, but instead, I got sick.
I stopped eating. I overexercised. I lost weight and hair and pretty much the parts of the human body that declare health. My life spiraled out of control. Running wasn't an option when I went into counseling a year and a half after that race. I was too weak to pay attention in class let alone run a mile.
Last month, I signed up for my first half marathon since my life drastically changed. Literally everything is different in my life. From my relationship status to my jean size, all parts of me changed over the past six and a half years (thank God).
But here I am confessing that running/training for the October 2017 half, and in turn building muscle, has been harder than I ever dreamed. And honestly, not so much physically challenging as mentally. I'm proud of the way I'm training and faithfully increasing mileage, but with healthy amounts of exercise comes a growing jean size. A growing jean size has given me some intense anxiety. In the past 2 weeks, I've noticed myself slipping into the temptation to make my life about the number in my waist band. I've been tempted to forfeit the race because those "ED" thoughts return telling me that I'm only as valuable as I am thin.
I've been reading Romans on repeat the past few weeks and today, this verse stuck out to me:
"For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now you have been set free from sin [...]" Romans 6:20-22a
Sitting at my coffee shop, flipping through the tattered pages in my Bible, I went back to that space of slavery. Slavery to myself, quite frankly. I tried to think of the "fruit" of that season of my life. The fruit was a year and a half of my life that I don't remember very well. My brain was so tired and weak that I don't remember much. When I think back to my sickest days, I wasn't a very effective human. I didn't know myself and I didn't know how to love people.
I reflect on the intense recovery I went through. I remember those six months vividly. I remember clinging to the life I had left. I remember crying on my bedroom floor and shaking at the grocery store. But I remember getting stronger and with it and ability to love deeper and more freely.
In the years since my life was controlled by an eating disorder, life has not been peaches and roses, but I will say that the "fruit" in my life is oh so much sweeter than the number on the scale 6 years ago. I have healthy relationships and goals that don't include calorie counting. I know Jesus deeper and have the capacity to care about things that matter. I have freedom to run five miles because I want to run five miles not because I need to burn off a donut. And you know what, I can eat a donut and not run later that day. I have the freedom. It's pretty sweet.
So today, I remember that I'm running because life is about the freedom of the Gospel. I can use this body of mine to celebrate and challenge and run and jump and love deeply. That's why I'm running and that's why it's ok that my jean size increases.
Feel free to ask me how training is going- I need alllll the accountability I can get.
Now imma eat a donut.