“You’re doing it wrong.”
There I was pounding out miles at my local YMCA on a treadmill due to the below zero temperature when my treadmill started talking to me. I realize I was sixteen miles into a twenty-five-mile treadmill day but the shock of a voice coming from a treadmill nearly floored me.
I will admit that by this time, I may have been a little insane after four hours of staring at nothing but walls. In my insaneness, I knew one thing for certain. Treadmills can’t talk and there wasn’t anybody on the treadmills beside me nor the ellipticals in front of me.
Glancing around me carefully while still maintaining my pace, I decided why not ask a question of this talking treadmill. So out loud I asked, “doing what wrong?” I wasn’t really expecting an answer but figured why not, I have another nine miles to go so why not see if the treadmill will give me some details to work with as to what I was doing wrong.
To my utter amazement, the treadmill answered me. “You’re not Don Quixote so stop tilting at windmills.” Not a lot of detail but something to start mulling over as I continued to run.
My method for thinking deeply and coming up with answers is to form a word picture in my mind. So, I started picturing windmills. I love the old-fashioned windmills, not the modern turbine-powered windmills so my mind started picturing a meadow with a windmill slowly turning on it. Quite a good word picture for a frigidly, cold day that in Wyoming we just call a Saturday instead of fancy names like polar vortex.
I knew the “doing it wrong, tilting at windmills” challenge had nothing to do with running as that is my escape pod so that was easy to dismiss as I ran along. I never run with music or headphones as I like to be able to listen to my body and most of all my spirit. As I continued to run and work through this challenge, I began to get the picture of fortresses and inside the fortresses I began to picture my true self wanting to break out of the fortress. The more I thought on this, the more I realized that what I was doing wrong had more to do with the fortresses I erect around myself to control situations and bend them to my will.
As I continued to think upon these things, I realized that I was acting as if I could make the Creator of the universe do things my way. Quite a startling thought but I knew I wasn’t finished with this session yet.
At about eighteen miles I hopped off the treadmill to go down to the small track and run circles to finish thinking about what was going on. Twenty-one circles equal a mile so the tactic was to run twenty-one circles and then walk one, rinse and repeat.
As I set into my monotonous motion, missing greatly my big, blue Bighorn Mountain skies, I continued to search out the which windmills I was tilting at.
Trying to Prove I’m Worthy
Sometime after mile twenty-one it suddenly hit me, almost in as audible a voice as the treadmill. I nearly came to a complete stop.
The thought that struck me? I’m trying to prove I’m worthy.
In my writing, in my job, in my marriage, in my friendships, in the places I volunteer.
The revelation was actually quite healing as I knew I already had the answer. When I attempt to prove I am worthy, I am taking away the power of being worthy simply because of who I belong to and what I was created to be. It doesn’t matter if I am trying to prove myself worthy of respect, worthy of being a leader in my profession or worthy of being listened to. When I do this I take away the power of simply being me.
There is a currency we exchange in every encounter we have. I realized as I ran along that I was exchanging the currency of energy and time trying to prove to people I am worthy and that by doing so I was actually bankrupting the worth of who I am when I am simply just being who I was created to be.
I, like many of you, think that if I just write more or work harder, then people will notice me and I will achieve all the income and self-worth goals I set for myself.
Yet, as I continued to grind out circles around my little YMCA track, as my body broke down as I added miles, my spirit was lifted and set free because I discovered a gem inside the walls of my YMCA.
Worthy Because You Are You
I am worthy! Not because of the words I write, the prayers I pray or the hard work I put in. No, I am worthy for one simple reason.
I am worthy simply because I trust the One who walked this earth over two thousand years ago, who was crucified and yet rose again. Because I trust the One who destroys the fortresses, I build around my spirit, I am worthy and set free from the bondages I erect around myself.
It amazes me how often I have to circle back to that one foundational truth. I am free not because of what I do but because of who I am when I am simply being who I was created to be.
As hour five hit on my indoor run, I felt amazingly well. Sure, I was hungry and my muscles were screaming in pain but my spirit was free.
I’m not going to tell you that you need to go to the gym or run a bunch of miles or even that you need to listen to your treadmill next time you’re near it. However, I will say that being free is worth whatever you have to do to get there. You’re going to have to get outside of your own head and your own efforts to break free though and it doesn’t matter what you do to get there/
As I wound down my run, I realized that I was feeling good for one simple reason. The last words I heard from my treadmill on my last three-mile segment was “well done good and faithful servant. You’ve listened and broke the fortress walls down. Go home and be at peace.”
The treadmill isn’t the secret recipe but I will tell you what it is if you’re ready.
The secret is simply this: YOU ARE WORTHY! Not because of what you do or who you are but simply because you are you. If you will grasp the one simple foundational truth that you are worthy because of who you were created to be, you will also be set free.
The best part of this: you don’t have to go run on a treadmill for five hours because I’ve already done that for you.