Flawsome Friday

I haven’t written a post for a while. My running injury has zapped a lot of my energy emotionally and there hasn’t been much left to give. I am sitting here now having a short break at the end of the day, so thought to write down some thoughts to share, instead of simply pondering them inside my head in private.

I’ve been reminded again this week how many people outwardly seem to have it all together, yet deep down inside you can tell something isn’t right. On the outside, everything is fine, but behind closed doors, they are in serious trouble. Often these people appear confident and secure and pretend to be whoever they think others will admire. Yet they are insecure and like most of us, have deep-rooted fears of rejection.

The fear of rejection exists when we base our self-worth on other people’s opinions of us and often those that hurt us, have poor self-image themselves. I don’t want to get into a heavy topic for a Friday afternoon as we head into the weekend, so instead let me remind you that you are ‘flawsome’ (an individual who embraces their flaws and knows they are awesome.)

We are all doing the best we can, so don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others who seem to have it all together. I promise you, nobody is perfect and we are all under construction! You may still have areas to overcome, but you need to have an image of a champion on the inside and know you are a victor not a victim.

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#metoo

It’s easy to wear a smile and give a fleeting, “Fine, thanks!” when asked how we are doing. Outwardly, most of us seem to have it all together, but inside we are broken. Often it is our pasts that have left us wounded inwardly and we feel isolated and ashamed.

“Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.” Rick Warren.

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The #metoo movement is being covered extensively by the media and every brave person who comes forward is taking off their mask and exposing their darkest secrets to the world. The shame is finally being squashed as the stories are brought to the light and empathetic cries of #metoo are being verbalized as we hear and acknowledge these struggles.

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Sometimes we pretend for the sake of others but we also pretend for ourselves, so we do not have to deal with difficult issues. I have realized that facing the truth takes hard work and you have to want to get well. You need to learn to love yourself again, from the inside, and remove the shame, otherwise you will eventually search for these good feelings from other sources, even if they only provide temporary relief.

This epidemic in our culture needs to be stopped and one way we can do our part is to listen, without judgement, to those who have the courage to step out and speak up. Shame is a trap that tricks us into believing that if people knew the truth, they would see us differently. Healing is painful but when you are hurting anyway, you have nothing to lose. Like I have learnt with my ultramarathon running, endurance produces joy (eventually!) Sometimes you have to push through the pain and allow it to accomplish its purpose.

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You can’t do anything about the past but nothing is wasted if you use your story to help others who find themselves in similar situations. Set your focus on a new direction and do something about your future.

Run Your Own Race

I recently ran a half marathon race at record speed (well, for me anyway!) and as a result I have been limping all week with a hamstring strain. During those 21kms I did not even stop for water. I simply put my head down, pumped my arms and ensured that the group I was running with did not pull away from me. I would like to say that this flash of irresponsible brilliance was fuelled by a desire to test my full potential but instead, it was driven by my own insecurity and the need to prove my worth to myself and others.

These immature thinking patterns rear their ugly head every now and then, and this happened at the start of the race, after a passing comment caused my self-esteem to plummet. Instead of rising above it and not giving away my power, I decided to race as fast as I could, to prove that I was just as good as the person next to me.

I know I am not alone in this thinking and many of us get trapped in this self-destructive cycle. Our identity gets wrapped up in our accomplishments and we add unnecessary stress to our lives by seeking approval and value from the wrong sources. We are a community starved of love and fill this void with things that can never satisfy. We simply don’t realize how valuable we are and instead let self-hatred and self-doubt consume us.

Our sense of value cannot be based on how well we perform, how popular or successful we are or how somebody else treats us. We cannot earn our value but instead it is based solely on the fact that we are God’s children and nobody can take that away from us. Constantly remind yourself that you are God’s masterpiece and don’t let circumstances or other people deceive you and influence your estimation of your value.

Receiving God’s unconditional love is the beginning of emotional healing and as I sit here with my hamstring on a pack of ice, I am comforted by the face that no matter what we are going through in life, God will never give up on us, so we mustn’t give up on ourselves. You may feel insecure or overwhelmed but God will use you in spite of your weaknesses and He sees you as a champion. Keep going (at your own pace!) knowing that we all have faults and make mistakes but the good news is, God loves us anyway.

Comrades Ate My Cheeks

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I didn’t plan on writing a blog today. This is a spontaneous entry to clear my scrambled thoughts, which means you are in for a bumpy read with no clear direction or destination! Exit anytime.

Last weekend I ran the Comrades marathon. It was an honour to be a part of it. The training this year has been tough (both physically and emotionally) and a few days before the race, I was still not convinced that lining up on that start line was the right thing to do. However, I was blessed with a strong run, an improved time and incredible memories. I even achieved my goal to ‘finish with a smile’ and was told I looked relaxed and happy throughout the day.

After all the exercising leading up to this point, it felt strange to relax for a week, re-feed the body and brain and reflect on the hills we recently climbed. Repetitive long distance training takes a toll on me physically and naturally as Comrades drew nearer, my face started to look rather hollow. However, I am pleased to report that my peanut butter and couch potato script has had a positive influence on my cheeks, which started to fill out again almost immediately. I am highlighting my cheeks here, and being a bit silly, because my cheeks (or lack thereof) became a hot topic of conversation last month, which I suppose is human nature, but it was hard to swallow and eventually gave me indigestion!

If you are constantly worried about what other people think, you will be distracted from your destiny. I had other medical factors that came into play last month, which had nothing to do with Comrades training, but also negatively impacted my appearance. Those details are nobody’s business, yet we are creatures who love to speculate and I understand why people did. Luckily, my hollow cheeks were a temporary side effect, and we also have short attention spans, meaning #debbieneedsafacebra soon moved further and further down newsfeed. Despite my outward appearance, I was stronger than ever been before and could run 87kms sensibly and comfortably. Case closed.

One’s physical appearance is a personal subject and being called names triggered memories of rejection, which is never fun. Everyone has hurts from their past. Although my heart is healed, there is still a human part of me that feels incredibly sad when I think back on certain events in my life. Sometimes I can brush them off but other times it makes me angry, defensive, even hungry (this is where pity parties are tempting, and they usually come with an abundance of tasty treats too!)

I am taking a risk, being vulnerable as always, no tongue in cheek here, and hope in doing so it encourages you to do some reflecting too. Is there something in your past that causes emotional emptiness, even today? Does this trigger you to numb your longing for healing with a temporary physical pleasure? Often issues are big and complicated (I know mine are) and you overcome one layer, only to realize there are many layers still to go. Like peeling an onion, it leaves you in tears every time. There is no easy solution, but I find it helps to think of something good that has happened despite the pain from the event. (I used everyone’s doubts and rude remarks as fuel on my run and I never ran out of energy!)

With chipmunk cheeks or chiselled cheekbones, I can smile either way, despite what the crowd has to say. I have learnt to pay more attention to what God says about me, than what the grapevine does and I challenge you to do the same.

Winners Don’t Quit

I am nine days away from stepping on stage again and fear is rearing its ugly head, causing me to worry about things that haven’t even happened yet. There have been moments when I have wanted to give up, but like many of my friends competing over the next few months, we have made up our minds that no matter what opposition comes our way, we will finish the course. Quitting is not an option! I don’t only want to finish what I started, but I want to enjoy the journey as well and this is not possible if I am afraid all the time. Many of my friends struggle too, it is a hard sport, but they dig in their high heels and keep at it. We are all striving to be the best versions of ourselves and aim to keep improving every time. I am so grateful to these ladies for their support and example and most importantly, friendships.

Confidence plays a key role here too and I struggle with this, but I am going to ‘do it afraid’ despite the feelings once again! My body language gives me away every time and this weekend at our posing class, I was told to stand tall and stick my chest out! (I tend to slump my shoulders and hang my head when I am shy, in an attempt to shrink smaller and go unnoticed.) But this is unacceptable and I want to be proud of my hard work and walk out there with my head held high. When we look confident on the outside, we feel confident on the inside. After years of putting myself down, and developing a wrong mind-set, I am learning that words are powerful too and by changing how I speak about myself, I can change my life. I find myself saying things like “I am not confident” or “I am discouraged” and this must stop. One of the best ways to improve your self-image is with words because they will drop down into your spirit and produce exactly what you are saying. That is why it is important to get in a habit of declaring good things over our lives every day.

If you are tempted to give up on something right now, don’t! Winners don’t always take first place, but they must finish what they started. This helps build confidence too and we all have the ability to push through no matter what opposition comes our way. All you need is more determination than anyone else you know! There is greatness and potential inside of you, but it is up to you to believe it and act on it. You can finish the course. Keep going! You’ve got what it takes.

Learn To Like Yourself

While ‘liking’ a picture on a friend’s Facebook page earlier, I suddenly thought, wouldn’t it be great if we liked ourselves in the same way that we liked those posts? Do it on purpose, with daily enthusiasm, making an effort to search for things we can give a ‘thumbs up’ to, sifting through the spam to discover hidden treasures in between.

So many of us are not at peace with who we are. We focus on our weaknesses and are extremely critical of ourselves. I have been guilty of this too. We all have areas we need to improve on, but God knew that you weren’t going to be perfect, even before you were born and He still loves you! Why can’t we love ourselves to?

Having a poor self-image is a major problem today. We’ll never experience God’s best if we walk around feeling inferior. We let a war rage within us and instead of speaking positive declarations over our lives we let negative words drop down into our spirit. Sometimes these come from outside influences but more often than not, it is our own internal dialogue that feeds our insecurities. This leads to problems in our relationships, because as the saying goes, ‘you can’t give away what you don’t have’. If you don’t love yourself, you will never be able to properly love others. This doesn’t only affect you but will influence every relationship you have.

I struggle with never feeling I am doing enough. I am not a good enough wife, I am not working hard enough…but I am learning there is no point in meditating on that rubbish. It is important to see ourselves as God sees us. He approves of us and is more interested in what we can become, than what we are! This idea excites me, and motivates me to keep pressing on, keep growing and know where I am weak, God is strong! I now do my best to ask Him for help when I am struggling, rather than get down on myself. This is hard for a perfectionist to do, but I am ‘under construction’ and realize that by having weaknesses, this in turn allows me to trust God and lean on Him.

God may not be pleased with every decision you make, but He is pleased with you. He accepts you. He approves of you. Shouldn’t you do the same? Shouldn’t I do the same? Let us start right now! Click ‘like’. You deserve a thumbs up today!