This post is inspired by an upcoming book club where we will be discussing the book, "Boston Bound" by Elizabeth Clor. In the book, the author tries to overcome the mental hangups which are preventing her from achieving her lifelong dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. She meets with a sports psychologist, who recommends to her that she stop thinking of herself as "a runner" and instead think of herself as "a good person who does good things." In other words, her identity does not need to be based on an activity that she likes to do. Her identity is so much more than this, and she is then set to the task of figuring that out.
This really got me thinking about my own identity. There have been many times over this past year where I definitely have found myself primarily identifying myself as "a runner." I have met great friends through running, have participated in many fun and challenging races, I like to read about running and listen to podcasts and audio books about running. Running has become a big part of my life. I really enjoy it--the social aspect of being a part of a running group, the physical and mental challenges I have to overcome along the way, and the health that it brings to my body and mind. However, I am more than just "a runner."
Last year, when I was injured (severe plantar fasciitis), I was unable to run for a few months. During that time, I had to make a choice. I could be miserable and depressed, OR I could spend that time fostering the other aspects of my life that I had neglected during my running obsession. I remember reading an article that dealt with how to mentally get through an injury that keeps you from running, and the main point that I remember was that I am MORE than just a runner. I am Sarah--a mom, a wife, a friend, a doctor. I am hardworking, passionate, energetic, positive, optimistic. I DO love to run, but I also love to be with my kids, to write, to read, to exercise in general, to play outside, to craft, to be with friends and family. That really helped me through that time and kept me from getting depressed at not being able to run for a few months.
Now, I have started thinking through these things again. What do I want to be known for? I don't want to be known as a runner. I DO want to be known as someone who loves life and encourages others; someone who is passionate about her goals but flexible if needed; a loyal and thoughtful friend; a child of GOD. And when I run, I can show these aspects of my identity! But if I could never run again, I could continue being me. And that makes me feel safe and at peace.
There is a song by Nichole Nordeman called "Legacy" that really resonates with me; in fact, I chose it during the slide show at my residency graduation. The lyrics are as follows:
I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
And you could take my picture and hang it in a gallergy
Of all the who's-who's and so-and-so's
That used to be the best at such and such,
It wouldn't matter much
I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights,
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world.
I want to leave a legacy,
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to you enough
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.
I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such
Will soon enough destroy
Not well-traveled, not well-read
Not well-to-do, or well-bred
Just want to hear instead,
Well done, good and faithful one
In the same way that I don't wrap up my entire identity in being a doctor, I want to continue to remember that my identity is in Him, in Christ, not just as a runner. But in the meantime, I am surely thankful that I can RUN!
The Big Run 5K
June 7, 2017 Global Running Day
Chapel Hill, NC