Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Penetrating Through the Shadows

Some people think that saying or writing the negative things we think just lends credence to irrational fears, giving them, the fears, the power to cripple oneself, sort of a reverse affirmation if you will.

And I used to agree with them.

But over the past year, so many fears and doubts have lurked in the back of my mind, all ambiguous and shadowy, intangible and so difficult to ascertain just what it is that is robbing my joy that I don't really know what I'm afraid of, just that there is a general sense of trepidation as mental bogeymen hedge about furtively in the depths of my soul.

They're just shadows, too, these bogeymen.

Some are completely warped, the sort that, in the room of a child who is afraid of the dark let's say, appear to be gremlins or hobgoblins and have the ability to not only paralyze a child with fear but also bring with them the gift of wakeful insomnia.  Given some time, explorations [often made by a loving parent], and a flip of the light-switch, these shadows are the ones that are eventually revealed as being the result of the neighbor's misshapen tree outside the bedroom window, blowing in a storm.  Nothing a rational person would fear.

Others may have a basis in reality, but are grossly exaggerated, as most actual shadows are.  For instance, my personal shadow, while based on my body, will at times - depending on the angle of the sun, time of day, etc. - illustrates me as having legs a mile long, with a teensy, tiny little head, and skinny arms that extend forever.  Clearly not a true picture of my actual form!

Anyways, sometimes identifying the shadows, speaking them and what you're feeling, is the first step to illumination and seeing them for what they really are.

[whew - this is turning into a lengthy preamble - who's still with me?]

All of this to say that yesterday, I went running for the first time since Thursday [on account of I had some knee pain last week and was trying to rest it a bit].  My knees felt great (Praise GOD!), I was feeling good, hit my mile right at 10:02 [which is not my fastest but is a good comfortable pace for me] and kept going.

Until about 1.5 miles.

Suddenly my legs were tight, my lungs constricting, my body burning with fatigue.  Out came the bogeymen, their shadowy appendages poking at my heart but never fully revealing themselves.  [in less flowery vernacular, and more concisely put - my stress level had a detrimental impact on my performance - but that is too simple and not rambly enough for this blog, eh?  Also?  You don't say? Stress can kill performance, well, how about that!]

So I walked.

But I didn't walk in defeat.  I was in tears, and some of the fears were really getting me.

You're not going to make it at Boulder.  All this hype, all this work for a YEAR and you are going to let your fears get you and paralyze you.

I cried out, like a child afraid of the dark, for my Father.  My Heavenly Father.  I begged Him to come into the dark, shadow-filled recesses of my mind and flood His light into the space - so that the cause of the shadows could be exposed, and I could see the hobgoblins for the trees they may have been.

I realized that as some of the fears shifted from the shadows into an actual form, that is a thought, that these thoughts were all in the 2nd person - YOU statements, not I statements.

And this is where I hesitate - as I always get self-conscious talking about spiritual warfare and "voices" having worked with people who audibly heard voices in their heads.  The need to disclaim "This is different," sits within me.

In the negative inner dialogs of my mind, I have plenty of I statements, more than I'd care to admit, so this is not just an observation of mental semantics, a rationalization made of split hairs.  No, as I realized this, I felt as if someone or something was feeding me these thoughts.

From the beginning of this journey, I have desired my running accomplishments to be a testament to God's redemptive work in my body, a way to open the door to talk about the greater works He has done in my whole life.  I didn't want the glory, but for God to have it, as He deserves it.  And yet, here was this voice, making it all about me, and what I could or couldn't do.

Meanwhile, my Father did as asked of Him and put His Word upon my heart: cliché as it may sound, scenes from David and Goliath flashed in my mind.

In regards to the voice of negativity, I was reminded of Saul telling David that he shouldn't even think of trying to take the giant down.  Also?  That I CAN run 6.2 miles, because I did it about a month ago.  And I will again, because I hadn't even made it for a full 3 miles before I ran my 5k.

Finally, regarding who gets credit - David's confidence in the Lord and words to Goliath just before he accomplished the most widely known TKO of history rang in my ears:

"... but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you... and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!  And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
There are half a dozen other bogeymen crouching in my mind's eye that I must shed some light on - so if I'm on the quiet side, just know that I'm working through some things.
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