On Running + Rephrasing

“…Yet,” she added to the end of my sentence, which was meant to be definitive: “I’m not a runner.”

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See what I mean? Vacation.

If you know me, you know I love Landen Lake walks. When the weather is nice, there is nothing more leisurely than the 2.24 mile walk around a lake in the middle of suburban Cincinnati. It’s an instant vacation one mile from my home.

Within the last week, the weather has been warmer, the sun has been in the sky longer, and it’s starting to feel like spring (and honestly, IT’S ABOUT TIME). These things mean one thing for Team Tilmes: it’s lake walk season. One day when we were on our way to the lake, Danny tossed up the idea of running part of it. This made me nervous because I’m not great at running. In fact, I’d go as far as saying “I’m not a runner.”

But we’ve been doing it. We’ve been running portions of the lake and on the first day, we beat our typical walking time with ease. And then we shaved 10 seconds off of that time, then 30, then a whole minute. Each time we run a little more than we did the last in order to beat our previous time. It’s a fun competition with ourselves.

So, I was explaining to a friend that I had been running the lake, but in a self-deprecating way (#sup), made sure to include that it barely counts (which is true, I think) because “I’m not a runner.” And with a positive, hopeful tone she said one word that changed the game for me: “…yet.”

Friends, how often do we speak a statement over ourselves and claim it as truth? We declare that we’re not organized, we’re always late, or we’re 10 pounds heavier than we should be (should be..?). If you’re anything like me (see self-deprecating language in paragraph 5), you could use a little help quitting the habit of speaking yourself into a hole of self-pity and self-doubt. Depending on what you’re believing, I have 3 different ways to rephrase your statements.

#1: NOT YET.

There are long lists of descriptive words that we decide we should or shouldn’t be. Sometimes we even buy into a lie that certain descriptors make us more synonymous with “worthy” or “loved.” There are other descriptive words that don’t have to hold weight on our worth if we don’t let them. Like, being a runner.

Does being a runner mean I’m a better version of myself? Maybe. Not because of the actual running part, but because it might mean I’m pushing into self-discipline and self-love. It might mean I’m overcoming fears or lies I’ve always believed about myself without a second thought (someone with my body type can’t run). Does being a painter give a girl more worth? Nope. But it could make her more mindful, and that could mean she’s a healthier, better version of herself.

What I’m saying is this: you can set goals and chase dreams. You do not need to be something in order to hold more value or worth, but if you want to meet a goal, work towards it. If you want to start a hobby, give it a go. Running a 10k or selling your art won’t help you love yourself more, I promise. That’s gonna take some serious soul work. But with healthy intentions, I do think training for a 10k or putting a pen to paper could be part of your soul work.

“I’m not a mom… yet.” I hope you believe that you don’t need to be a mom to be lovely. If you were made maternal, use those skills with the people around you right now. And, hey, take care of yourself too. If you were born to be a mom, you’ll be one. I’m not saying everything we hope for will come true just as we’d like. But, we can bless our bodies and keep hoping. You can be single or infertile and still be a mom through things like fostering, adoption, and ministry.  If you desire to be a mom, I think you’re going to make a great one.

“I’m not adventurous… yet.” Does a change in routine make you anxious and you wish it didn’t? You can push into the feelings of fear that come with not knowing the unknown by trying to do something unknown. Go on a spontaneous day trip to a big city nearby. Spend a little more than you budgeted at the grocery store. You can do the things that scare you without losing all that integrity or discipline that makes you so good. But if you want to loosen up a bit, you have to start somewhere.

And if I fail? If you try a hobby like running or painting and it doesn’t go well, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You can choose to believe that it doesn’t make you any less valuable than if you would have been really great at that thing. It’s all about rephrasing the statement. Which brings us to:


Among all of the descriptive words we think we should be, I think there’s a super short list of descriptions that actually matter. We might think certain qualities are important because of the attention our culture puts on them, but in the big grand scheme of life, they really don’t.

The next time someone is complaining about something she lacks, what would it look like if you, in the most loving way possible, said “no biggie”?

“I’m not organized.” “No biggie.” Yes, being organized is a wonderful trait to have in a friend or coworker or spouse. But do you know what else is wonderful? Being present, being creative, being honest. I’m telling you that you’re off the hook if you don’t have the cleanest house or prettiest planner. It’s no biggie. I bet you have a lot of other really awesome qualities that make you special.

“I have wide hips.” “No biggie.” Yeah, you do! You were born to make babies. You have the body of a woman. You are beautiful in an effortless way and your body takes up space as it should. Yeah, maybe you have to buy jeans a couple sizes larger than your friends. No biggie! Your body is yours and it’s a work of art.

And if it is a big deal? If you’re holding onto a belief that feels crazy to respond to with “no biggie,” there’s a chance that what you’re believing isn’t true. For example, if your closest friend told you “Nobody in the world likes me,” your response wouldn’t be “No biggie!” because you like her very much which is enough proof to crush her case. If you might be believing a lie, here’s one more way to rephrase your statement:

#3: WHAT IF?

Among the long list of descriptive words, there’s that super short list of words that actually matter and are absolutely true because they just are. Even when they’re not easy to believe. Especially when they’re not easy to believe. Feeling unloveable, for instance? You’re loved. I promise. Feeling overlooked? You’re seen. I know it.

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A photo of me after I ran. So I guess that makes this a photo of a runner.

I’m not saying your feelings aren’t valid, but they’re not always telling the truth. So, sometimes you need to make a conscious effort to decide that you are (or aren’t) something, even if questioning ”what if?” feels a little more appropriate in the moment.

“What if I am a runner?” Because I ran, didn’t I? Doesn’t that make me a runner? I might not be a long-distance runner or a fast runner (yet), but maybe I am a runner.

“What if I’m not alone?” Do you have followers on Instagram? Contacts in your iPhone? Have you texted someone within the past 48 hours? If you have, I bet those people like you and are there for you. Yes, it can be easy to believe that there isn’t a single person who is looking out for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Scroll through your phone, knock on your neighbor’s door, sit down with your family and you’ll be reminded that you have people who love you.

“What if I am joyful?” Sure, there might be days or moments when you’re not living like it, but what if that didn’t disqualify you? You can have moments or seasons of sadness, but still be defined by joy. If joy is a fruit of the Spirit and you have the Spirit, then joy is part of who you are.

And if I still don’t believe it? If you’re really certain that you’re just not fill-in-the-blank, there’s still hope! We’ll go right back to the first option and decide you’re just not that thing… yet.

So, there you have it. I’m not an expert (no biggie!), but I am a caring friend, and I want you to do whatever you gotta do to reframe lies and fears with some good truth. Hopefully this was a helpful start.

I believe in the great things you’ll do. And even more, I believe in who you are,


You’ve scrolled a long way with that index finger of yours, way to go! So, don’t close the page just yet. Instead, grab your journal. Yep, you read that right.

I don’t think we find real freedom by holding onto a book quotes. I think real freedom takes thought, intention, bravery, and honesty with ourselves.

Here are some questions to help you process the lies you’re believing about yourself or your situation:

  1. What are a couple things you’ve been wanting to try, but have ignored out of fear you might fail? Make a list of those things.
  2. What would it look if you failed at one of the things you listed above? Write it down. Would it be a big deal? If not, what’s holding you back? Write it down. If it’s simply the fear of failing, I dare you to give it a try.
  3. Where do you lack? What traits do you tend to complain about the most? What do you believe disqualifies you? Here’s a challenge: write those things down and then follow them up with “No biggie.”
  4. What lies are speaking louder than truth in your mind? What are you believing about yourself that you know for sure your mom or BFF wouldn’t agree with? Write down the opposite of that thing. If it feels impossible, try prefacing with “what if” and then asking yourself the question.
  5. How could tomorrow look different if you really believed your “what if” above? Write it down, and then practice believing it.