I am not a runner. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one hundred times. I am not a runner.

In middle school, we had these horrible cotton PE shorts. Red cotton that clung to all the wrong places. Required. I can still see and feel them with the matching thin white t-shirt, school name plastered across the front, red ring around the collar. Insert eye-roll. We would line up in alphabetical order across the gymnasium floor to perform stretching exercises. I was always third from the left, front row. Touching my toes was an impossibility at the time, embarrassing enough for an 11 year old. But, what really haunted me, was the run that followed. We ran in a herd through the neighborhood situated right behind the school. It was maybe a two mile loop. Those side cramps would get me every time. Back of the pack every.single.time. I’d meet you on the tennis court any day of the week, but running was not my game.

For thirty years, I’ve practiced the phrase, “I’m not a runner.” Confidently sharing so as to quench any hopes or expectations of those around me. As I ran my last three training miles before my first marathon a few Sundays ago, I started up a slow, steady incline. A familiar voice in my head repeated, “you are not a runner.” To which, the voice of truth trumpeted, “You are right. You are not a runner. You are a child of God who has trained herself to run.”

I was speechless.

How many other labels have I inserted there over the years disqualifying myself and therefore smothering any chance of enjoying, improving or even mastering a skill or interest? Off the top of my head, here are a few: I am not creative. I am not an athlete. I am not a hostess. I’m sad just seeing the words come up on my screen as these lies are admitted. Equally sad, I still believe them.

I’ve convinced myself, and maybe you have too, that I have to have mastered something in order to enjoy it, in order to give myself that label. The truth is, however, few things are ever mastered – there’s just too much to learn, things change, more discoveries are made. Where’s the joy in mastering anyway, where can you go from there?

As I plodded up that hill and let the truth of my identity rush through me, I questioned…. “What if I buried the labels and the limits and lies attached to them and fully claimed my ultimate label of being chosen in and bought by Christ? In that freedom, the freedom ONLY offered in Christ Jesus, I could courageously pursue the things that I have shied away from until now.

Today, I’m proclaiming…. I’m Leslie, beloved child of the King. With his favor upon me, I trained myself to go the distance of 26.2 miles this year. Not fast, not slow. But, my pace for my race. I completed what I once thought impossible for my good and his glory. Praise be to the Lord!”

What are the labels, limits or lies you’ve convinced yourself to believe? What lies have come from those labels? Write them down or type them so you can see it in black and white.

Now, read the truth. John 1:12 says, ” But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Believing in Christ Jesus, the Light of the world, changes our identity. In Him, we become children of God. When you hear the voices telling you WHAT YOU ARE NOT, speak the truth even more loudly of WHO YOU ARE. Then, go and do the things that scare you. Go forward and do great things. And, then come back and tell me about them…..

(By the way, if you are not accustomed to reading scripture, the book of John is a great place to start! 21 chapters; enough for one chapter a day to get you in the habit of reading Truth!!)

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