I can’t. I can’t do this.
I am not a runner. There’s no way I can finish 13.1 miles. I can’t even do five!
I can’t write this. I’m not a good editor. I can’t make the point clear because I just can’t.
I can’t. I can’t do this.
Those, dear ones, have been the thoughts that have rattled through my brain and somehow found their way to my lips during these last few days and weeks. Numerous times during the training runs for the Country Music half marathon, I’ve found myself frustrated in the middle of a relatively short run, walking when I should be running, the voice in my head playing that endless taunt of “You can’t do this. You were stupid to even think you could.”
On Saturday, the voice wasn’t in my head; it was in my running partner’s. And after six really great miles in which we ran 8 minutes and walked 2 consistently without stopping to walk up difficult hills or to recover after a particularly hard interval, she gave the words voice. “I can’t,” she said, the words coming out on a vicious exhale and the sound trailing upward at the end.
And she couldn’t. Because, believe it or not, running is mostly a mental game. And when you’ve mentally given up, the chances of not giving up physically are slim to none.
Yesterday afternoon, tired after a long weekend and a whirlwind work trip, I sat down to edit some devotions. I thought I’d have a week done in the two hours I was devoting to it. Instead, I hammered on one devotion for two hours.
My brain felt muddled. I couldn’t grasp the point the writer was trying to make so that I could shine it up and bring it to the forefront. I wasn’t sure it was the point the devotion needed to make, anyway.
“I can’t do this,” I said, frustrated, my head in my hands. “I can’t fix this. I’m not good enough.”
I forced myself to power through and finish, but the end result wasn’t pleasing or the best thing I’ve ever written/edited. I’ll have to look back at it some other time when a clearer head prevails and see what the reality of the situation is.
“I can’t” is a powerful statement, and sometimes, when we give it voice, we actually give it strength. And then, the thought becomes reality.
The problem with “I can’t” is that sometimes, it’s a lie. I can’t finish this run. I can’t edit this devotion. I’m not good enough. I’m the one no one wants. I’m broken. Why did you ever think you could do this? Oh, you want to be obedient to God, yeah, you’ll mess that up, too. You can’t. You won’t.
Lies, my friends. Lies.
For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledgea of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.
—2 Corinthians 10:3-5