Last Saturday was race weekend. All of my training for the past 12 weeks culminated into one race, 6.2 miles, 1 hour and 17 minutes, 11:39 minutes per mile. 12 weeks worth of training squeezed into a chunk of time on a freezing cold Saturday morning.

It wasn’t my best time, it wasn’t even close to the time I was hoping for, but in the end it was a minute faster than my time from the same race two years ago and I did it without walking a single step the whole way. I was a bit disappointed in the time yes, but I was elated in my accomplishment overall.

That is, I was, until I saw the race photos. (Courtesy of Capstone Photography)

Honestly, they’re not that bad. But the first time I looked at them all I saw was bad. I saw pictures of someone who had squeezed herself into running tights and layered on her men’s xl t-shirt over top a baggy sweatshirt in an effort to blend in with a crown of svelte runners in their flashy sneaks, tight fitting running attire, and trim bodies. I saw someone who could never dream of being what they were. I am not fast, I am not thin, I am not svelte. I certainly don’t look like I belong out there next to everyone else, with my mouth hanging open as if I am screaming, which internally I am.

When I first looked at these photos that is all that I saw. Every small thing I could criticize about myself stared back at me from these proofs and mocked everything I want to be. In that instant my sense of accomplishment faded and was replaced by insecurity and discouragement. I stopped being able to see all that this race had meant to me, all the work I had put into it, and the same doubts, fears, and disappointments flooded back into my heart.

But then God did something amazing, he let me know that these photos are not all they appear to be. He reminded me that none of the stuff that filtered through my head and my heart mattered at all. He spoke to me and told me that what I saw was not what he saw. That he was proud of me. That he valued the woman in the photos more than she could imagine.

In an instant God took my view of those photos and flipped it on its head. Now I am not saying I love how I look in them, honestly I don’t. But I am saying that I don’t hate them. I don’t look at them and cringe because they don’t represent all of the things I thought they did. Instead, I look at them and I see a woman working her tail off. A woman who was able to take time off of her previous race results all while training with a chronic illness. A woman who got up at 5:30 in the morning and had the motivation to run a race in 25 degree weather while the wind blew in our faces and snow peppered us the whole way. A woman who made countless sacrifices to get where she is now, and who endured countless disappointments to reach this place.

A woman who is worth way more than anything captured in a single photo. A woman whose Heavenly Father looks down and nods in approval when He sees her hard work and dedication. A woman who is more than the sum of her body weight, t-shirt size, or mile pace.

So what is a picture really worth? Is it worth letting disappointment cloud accomplishment? Letting doubt replace dedication and hard work? Letting negativity replace God’s reassurance? I think not. I think I am going to put these pictures back into perspective. They’re just pictures after all.