Sometimes when I run, I feel as though I could run for hours. It’s like I might run and run and never stop. Now, I’m not a die-hard runner. I couldn’t finish a marathon, probably not even a half-marathon. But it’s not because my legs wouldn’t take me the 26.2 miles to the finish line that I won’t be attempting a marathon (because in reality, my legs turn to jello after about 3 miles). No, it’s not my legs. No, I couldn’t run a marathon because I look at my feet too much.
I’m not sure if this is a problem for other runners, but when I run, I find myself staring at my feet. I look down at my feet for what should be only a moment and yet I am suddenly more tired, my body is leaning forward and aching quicker, and I’m watching my feet become heavier and heavier.
It would be nice to just stop staring down, but it’s harder than you’d think to force my eyes upward. And then if I don’t look at my feet, I’m thinking about not looking, so I have to look and then I catch my neck straining and… it’s just bad. On those days, I can barely get through one mile. My efforts and intentions to go farther are lost.
I’d like to tell you this doesn’t happen all the time, but to be honest, it’s more often than I’d like to say.
Some days seem to catch me off guard. The morning sweeps me up with a bad mood, full of comparison to others and a desire to never leave my bed. I don’t want to face the world those mornings. Onto work again anyway, feeling inadequate or undeserving.
Sometimes it’s these unmotivated, sour days that I catch myself looking down at my feet.
It’s like the days where I watched my feet hit the pavement of three part time jobs, becoming heavier each day. I stared down at myself as a college-educated barista, listening to comments like the sarcastic “That’s a good use of your degree,” and “Don’t you want a real job?” Another mile passes; I’m tired. Watching your feet is difficult. Feeling the weight of other people’s standards beats my ego down in a hurry.
I’d like to say this doesn’t happen all the time, but let’s be honest, it’s more than I’d like to say.
It’s as if I could just look up and move my eyes a few feet north, I could move more easily, I would be able to enjoy the run, I could be prouder of myself. Instead, I shamefully stare at my feet, letting people happily pass me by on the way to the next mile.
Is it just me? Am I the only one who allows the words of onlookers, and even my own standards, to bring me down? Feelings of needing to be more financially stable, thinner, more successful, married, or a better this or a better that, these are the feelings that make us want to look at our feet. These are the feelings that make the miles harder to run. Our bodies ache of disappointment. Our hearts are heavy. Why couldn’t I pull my head up and be okay telling others the place I was in, where I was living or how many jobs I needed?
Though some days I let myself get the best of me, I know I am not walking through these seasons alone. I know there’s still the opportunity to look up confidently.
Lately, when I grow tired, when my life looks vastly different than I had hoped, when I see others far more put together, I try to respond in a better way. I created a list, rather than a plan for my future, something that will help me lift my eyes upward, away from the shame and disappointment, away from judging comments and let down dreams.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22)
“Trust in Him at all times, O People; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:5)
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)
These days, I run lighter, more freely than before. I can lift my head and be proud of where I am, wherever that may be.