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*This is a post I wrote on Sparkpeople.com earlier in the spring.  Just thought I would add it to this blog since it’s the first real blog I ever wrote.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I have this friend….She’s the kind of person that if you didn’t love her so much you’d probably hate her simply on principle because she is so smart and successful at everything she’s ever tried. AND the sweetest person you’d ever meet on top of it. She recently visited me and while we walked around a beautiful park she was lamenting the difficult time she was having in her Harvard medical residency. It was the first time that she was not the best of the best. She had had visions of being the best resident her attendings had ever had. But she was really struggling. She said she had always assumed she could do anything but this was the first time she had ever doubted herself and was wondering if this was really the right program for her.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

She had ALWAYS assumed she could to ANYTHING? I reflected back on my life and realized that I had always had the exact opposite reaction to most challenges in life. I don’t think I could count the number of times that my inner voice said to me “I could never do that.” And I began to wonder: where does that come from? I have fantastic, supportive parents, friends, and family who have always loved and believed in me. Why is it so hard for me to believe in myself? These may be silly examples, but I remember when my oldest cousin got his driver’s license. He was driving us somewhere and I thought “I’ll never be able to do that. I won’t pass the test. It’s too scary.” Or when I was pregnant with my first daughter and thinking I would never survive labor. “I will be the only woman in the history of the world who is not able to give birth.” Obviously, both of those scenarios sorted themselves out just fine.

More recently, just this weekend, I went for a run with my husband. It seems like an ordinary thing to do, right? But for me…it was conquering multiple fears. I had convinced myself that running outside was MUCH harder than running on my treadmill and I wouldn’t be able to do it. The physical exertion would be tremendously more than I was used to and I would most certainly collapse in a panting heap of weakness. I had also convinced myself that I could never run with my husband. It would simply be an exercise in humiliation for me to run with him. My husband, who has done an Ironman and run a 24 hour 187 mile relay race, would simply leave me in a trail of dust. What with being collapsed in a heap the way I imagined, that wouldn’t take long.

Of course, none of the above mentioned scenarios played themselves out in reality. I had lot of fun running with Andy and felt GREAT running outside! And just as I was feeling fantastic at conquering my silly fears….he suggested we run a 10K together later this spring. I may not have stopped dead in my tracks physically this time, but I certainly did mentally! 10K!?!?!?

And just like that there was my nasty inner voice placing a cloud of self-doubt over the suggestion of doing something new and challenging. “I’ve never run that far in my life!! I could never do that.” I may have said those exact words out loud to which Andy replied “That’s only because you’ve never tried.”

And yet again….stopping dead in my tracks.

He continued “You just ran 5K like it was nothing. You could be running 10K in two weeks. You could do it today if you really had to.”

Which leads me back to my original question. “Where does this self doubt come from?” It plagues me in so many areas of life. And while it manifests itself in some fears that may seem trivial to others (really? running outside? what’s the big deal?) the heart of the problem is much bigger. Because if I am allowing fear of failure to rule my life then I am not living to my potential and growing fully into the woman I was created to be. So where does this self doubt come from? The answer came quite clearly. “Well, it doesn’t come from God. So that leaves one alternative.”

To be honest, I grew up pretty conservative Lutheran. We just don’t talk about Satan. But the truth is…we do have an enemy in this world. I recently read a book that I loved called “Captivating” by John and Staci Eldridge. They put it this way: “He is the one who has dogged your heels with shame and self-doubt and accusation…He is the one who has done these things in order to prevent your restoration. For that is what he fears. He fears who you are; what you are; what you might become. He fears your beauty and your life-giving heart.”

If I am letting fear and self-doubt keep me from doing something like running a 10K, then what else am I letting it keep me from doing? I believe God speaks to us in many ways. He uses the bible, other people in our lives, and call me crazy, I think He recently spoke to me through my daughter’s Winnie the Pooh video. Christopher Robin says to Winnie “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” As childish as it may seem….that little line spoke to my heart.

So, as a symbolic gesture of refusing to believe the doubts, I am going to train for a 10K. (Yikes! Did I really just say that?) I am going to draw on my life verse to face challenges that come my way: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Tim 1:7. I was not created to live a life of shying away from challenges. And while I know I will still be accosted with thoughts of self-doubt, I will immediately counter them with a little scripture and a little Winnie the Pooh, and maybe a run.