For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Claire, I’m a full time teacher while also currently completing a masters part time at Stirling University. On a Sunday morning you’ll normally find me in a yellow t-shirt on younger kids or hiding behind the piano on the worship band. I like to be busy taking on many additional roles and responsibilities, striving to be the best at everything I do and constantly looking for my next project, you know what they say – ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person’.
I like to give the impression that I can do all of the above and be happy, I can juggle uni with work, keep my house clean and presentable, still make time for the gym five days a week (got to love a 5:45 am alarm), attempt to have a social life and still take on more, right? Wrong! So wrong! Yes I was managing to do all of the above but it was slowly breaking me, I was unhappy, grumpy with those closest to me and close to completely giving up. I didn’t know what to do, where to go and I was questioning whether there was a way out. I was becoming desperate but I maintained a façade that ‘everything was fine’ because I didn’t want anyone thinking I was failure, that I couldn’t manage.
Around this time I had decided to sign up for a 10K run after I felt convicted to raise money for Glasgow Children’s Hospital. I have never been a runner, I hated playing sports as a child and after being laughed at for the way I ran on a treadmill at the age of 16 I vowed never to run again which I didn’t until June this year. My previous attempt at running 10 years ago had resulted in knee pain and my Mum laughed when I told her about my 10K ambitions – this is how out of my comfort zone this was! However, I signed up for the Scottish 10K with only four months to train and took my first steps outside.
The first few attempts were pretty horrendous but I slowly built my stamina and to my (and my parent’s) astonishment within just five weeks I had run my first practise 10K with no knee pain in sight. I found I was not only able to run but I was enjoying it!
There was no doubt that at this time I was over-worked, anxious, had taken on too much and was unable to stop and relax, even more I was spending less and less time with God as uni and work was taking up the majority of my time. However, the time I was spending running was forcing me to stop, I couldn’t look up teaching ideas on Pinterest as I ran and as the running became easier I was relaxing, enjoying myself and beginning to connect with God in a way I hadn’t for a long time. As I ran I began thanking God for His beautiful creation, the weather, the way He has created everything to be unique, designed by His hand.
I started running further each few weeks spending more and more time outside and as I ran I began praying to God, talking to Him about my hopes, dreams, worries and fears and I found that as I ran God started breaking the chains which were holding me back: I am not enough. I can’t let anyone down. I have to be strong and capable to be loved and accepted. Love and relationships are conditional. I have to prove my worth. Instead I started believing that I don’t have to prove myself, people will love me for who I am, God made me the way I am and I started to let it sink in that He will never love me any more or any less than He does now no matter how much I’ve messed up in the past or will in the future.
This hasn’t been a quick journey (this is only a small snapshot), this has taken months of baby steps forward and some giant steps backwards but I’m getting there. I successfully ran the 10K a few weeks ago and am enjoying training for my first half marathon in May, it’s not always easy, I’ve not always got the motivation to go out but once I get over the door and get started it’s amazing how much better I feel.
Alongside the gift of running God has provided a beautiful friend who has allowed me to talk through my fears and anxieties, listening to my ups, downs and sagas of life each week, He has also provided an amazing circle of friends who have prayed, encouraged and laughed with me in the highs and the lows. Above all He has been incredibly patient as I move towards an understanding that God loves me just the way I am and that it is ok to not be ok.
As 2 Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Love Claire x
Thoughts, experiences, and encouragement from the ladies of Falkirk Vineyard.