First, let’s start off with a victory. I have a serious fear of unknown places because of my arch nemesis, chairs with arms. There’s always a chance those stinkin’ chairs are just too small for my rear end, resulting in an embarrassing situation (that usually only I am privy to, but it hurts nonetheless). This week I went to a doctor’s office that I had never been to for my foot and I was faced with the potential of an embarrassing situation. I came in, signed in, and looked around and saw it: a waiting room full of little butt chairs. I sighed to myself and looked for an “out” for sitting down–a display or something I could pretend that I was engrossed in to avoid taking a seat. But something in my head told me to try and sit down. The waiting room was empty, so no one would see if I failed, and I would only have to endure the inner self abuse if I couldn’t sit down, so I took a chance. Take a deep breath. Sit in the chair. Wait a second. I’m sitting? I’M SITTING IN A LITTLE BUTT CHAIR! COMFORTABLY! The smile on my face was ridiculous, I’m a little glad there was no one there to witness it–and a little sad when they called me back into the exam room, but I did it. I sat in a little butt chair. I didn’t have to feel subhuman this time! Hooray! And to top it off, I was relieved to find out the problem with my foot I was having examined was not weight-related, as I’ve feared for the several years that I’ve put off having any type of exam to avoid the embarrassment of hearing, yet again, “lose weight, it will feel better.” The doctor was very kind in commending my weight loss and exercise in spite of the occasional pain I’ve been having and assured me that my size was not a contributing factor. That made me feel really good.
But, all good things must come to an end. In my study this week, I’ve been concentrating on what is dubbed “the curse of the skinny jeans”–the idea that physical weight loss success will solve all the problems of the world. As you know from my previous posts, I do not believe that to be the case. I know that there needs to be an inner transformation for outward progress to be sustainable. However, that belief aside, I fall prey to the curse of the skinny jeans. After some ugly soul searching, these are some of the lies that I believe/have believed at one time would be the result of living at my ideal weight:
LIES LIES LIES!!! Okay, so there are little smidgens of half-truths in there, like the fact that “normal” women’s clothing is certainly much more flattering than plus size clothing…but really now, let’s have a reality check. A number on the scale is not going to make any of these situations change for the better. Everything in my life is not tied to an external view of myself. A “normal” weight would not make my life easier. My problems in life will not magically vaporize because of the number in the back of my jeans.
So what then brings about truth?
Finding joy and completeness in God.
John 15:9-12 says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
The promise of obedience and remaining in God’s love is that our joy may be complete. I’ve done a little brainstorming as to what joy and complete mean to me, and have been able to come up with a couple statements that are truth, no matter what size I am, no matter what place I am in life:
There’s no lasting, fulfilling joy that comes from those lies manifesting themselves in my life. Yes, some of them can bring some temporary happiness, but there’s no magic in reaching a specific number on the scale. Life will still go on in the process to reach those tangible goals, and it’s my choice how to live in the meantime. I choose joy.
I know, right? Last words you would be expecting to come from my mouth. I was working on my personal Bible study time for this week and came across the question, “If you were to thank God for your struggles with food, what “rich treasures” would you say you have discovered on the battlefield?”
Treasures? In battling food? You’ve got to be kidding me, right? Doesn’t God know that basically everything surrounding the idea of food absolutely makes my head spin?
And then I gave it more than three seconds of thought and came up with a few things…
So, there we have it…I sure have a lot to be thankful for today. Instead of questioning why I have to deal with the struggles that I face, I can see the value that lies in the broken places. And rely on the promise that those parts won’t be broken forever.
I’m a fairly logical person. I like tangible, measurable progress in any endeavor. That’s been a bit of a thorn for me the last couple of weeks, because, as with any weight loss endeavor, loss starts to slow down. It’s not because “I’m bad” or “giving up” or “cheating,” it just is what it is…body mechanics are doing their shifting too. So instead of sneezing and losing five pounds, I’m fighting for each ounce the scale is going down. And don’t feed me the platitude that “muscle weighs more than fat.” Yes, that is in fact true in and of itself, but when you really do your homework on that statement in terms of weight loss, it’s a cop out. One of my battles is excuses–the justifications that I make to myself that make things “okay.” Don’t feed me bull. I don’t have room in my head for it.
I needed something tangible yesterday because I was feeling a little discouraged after my morning weigh-in with only one pound lost to show for the last several weeks. At physical therapy for my back, I do an exercise with a belt secured around my waist and walk away from the machine to pull weight. My therapeutic setting for multiple repetitions is 10 pounds, and after the first few–that takes some work to continue pulling an additional 10 pounds around as you walk. I was very curious, so I asked if they could set the machine at 45 pounds so I could see what it was like to haul around the weight that I was carrying on my person when I started all of this. They didn’t want me to try because of the stress it would put on my back to pull, but helped me brace myself to take a few steps. I couldn’t even move one step forward. That was a reality check.
In some ways I was surprised, but in other ways, as I thought about it–this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. When I started back in January, I honestly couldn’t walk that well. It took herculean effort to lift myself from a sitting position. Steps were awful and took some intentional effort to step up/down. A lot has changed in a relatively short amount of time. I walk better. I can walk distance now. Other than our awful couches at home (which no one can get up from gracefully because of their cheap construction), I have no problem getting up from sitting. Steps are pretty much a non-issue, I can walk up/down them like a “normal” person now.
I know it seems like I focus a lot on the physical, and generally I do, because that’s where the facts and figures lie. I’ve made quite a bit of progress in other areas as well. I’ve identified a lot of areas in need of improvement and have started to make attempts in changing those areas. Changing my way of thinking is a big one, and a tough one, but I notice myself weighing thoughts more carefully and comparing them with God’s truth and calling my lies exactly what they are, rubbish. I find myself relying a lot more on God’s strength than my own. And like I talked about in one of my last posts about motivation vs. discipline, slowly but surely the habits being established are becoming discipline–doing things I need to do even when I don’t want to do them.
There’s still a long road ahead, but I tarry on confident today that I’m making slow and steady progress down the path. Dragging my feet in the sand some days, but moving forward nonetheless.
I’ve stepped back this week from exercise a little bit, even had to rest from physical therapy because I have had some back pain and have been advised to take it easy. For the most part, I’ve been okay with this, but of course there have been a few times where I’ve beat myself up too. I’ve been a bit anxious too over some stuff, so I kind of hit a wall this morning overwhelming myself with some of the commitments I have made recently. But, a few days and it will all be behind me. One thing at a time.
This week I have been concentrating on replacing old lies that I tell myself with new truths, and connecting it to scripture. I have 4 of these new truths that I am seeking to engrain in my head. I’ve also been reading a spiritually based book on negative self-talk. Some hard stuff to swallow.
I’m taking this afternoon to rest and reflect, and for some reason I have gotten it my head to make a “fitness bucket list”–all the things that I want to achieve for my body. So, here goes:
There’s no timeline on any of these, except the first one, my goal on that is the Color Your Sole 5K on September 12. It’s just kind of fun to think about the things that I want to achieve with a healthy body. I don’t think any of these things are out of the realm of possibility. Just what’s on my mind today…
So, yesterday’s blog post was pretty negative. That wasn’t my intention. I have a great desire for transparency on this journey of wellness. Some days aren’t always going to be sunshine and roses. I share not out of selfish gain or ambition, but rather to have a living testimony of the work that God is doing in my life. This is an opportunity for me to share my blessings and my struggles along the way of striving to be the woman of God that God sees in me. This blog, my (abundant) facebook posts, and the like, serve as a vehicle of motivation for me. And if it happens to inspire (or convict) someone else along the way, well, the Holy Spirit is doing His job too.
Motivation is important when discipline isn’t exactly disciplined. I’m learning discipline. Motivation keeps my mind and my heart on track of the lofty godly goals that have been set forth as I learn and apply the disciplines needed to stay the course. I am determined. I haven’t always been a determined person. This is new territory for me. And this time, I’m getting what I want–because it’s not just what I want, it’s what God wants for my life.
There have been few times in my life where I have known without a doubt, without a hint of hesitation, the exact part of God’s plan for my life at that particular time. The first was my calling to the full time ministry that I am a part of. It’s the only vision that I’ve ever encountered and it came at a time when I had sworn off God altogether. It took me several years of my heart changing and doubt before I experienced another nudging of the Holy Spirit to accept my calling that would change the course of my life forever. Another dramatic experience of discovering God’s will in my life was when I began dating my husband. It took me a long (long, long, long) time to reconcile in my heart being a single person in the ministry that I am a part of and go forward in faith knowing that I could do it. I’ll spare you the (absolutely hilarious!) conversation of how my husband and I started dating, but the moment he turned my face to him and kissed me for the first time, it was instant peace in my soul that he was the man I was going to marry, the one created just for me.
And that brings us to my current unwavering knowledge of God’s plan for me. I am not living the plan that God has for my life. I am not living life abundantly in His blessing because I am in sin. It’s not laziness, it’s not busyness, it’s not neglect–it’s sin. That’s hard to swallow. But thank God that’s not the end of the story. The Holy Spirit has placed a strong conviction on my heart of the several blatant sins in my life that are holding me back from freedom, from a full relationship with God. I can’t ignore it anymore. I can’t run from it anymore. It’s time to team up with the One who is right and change for the better.
They say (whoever “they” is) that change is like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, more is exposed, and the work is never done. I acknowledge that the work in me will never be done, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be doing it. Each effort, each goal, changes me more into the image of God, to be the person He created me to be. I don’t know what the future holds, and it’s probably good that I don’t, but I do know this–it’s going to be awesome.
And it’s not just about the end result, it’s about the process too. Finding joy in the changes. Feeling success in the little things. Asking God for forgiveness of my neglect of His creation. Showing God my obedience to His will. Learning how to be obedient, and not living my will. Even the bad days, and there will be some, all have lessons to be learned.
Isn’t life amazing?
I’ve got to be honest. The last few days I’ve really been struggling. I can’t help but think how much easier it is to simply not care, as I have for so much of my life, which has gotten me to right where I’m at. All this work I’m putting in to better myself is just that…it’s work! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit weary on the journey.
A few days ago, a story hit the national media that at first I didn’t pay attention to, thinking it was just tabloid smut, but as the information unfolded, the story grew, and many people are sitting with their chins on the ground asking a lot of questions. Other than a sunken feeling in my heart, I have had a really hard time reconciling this news story in my mind and heart. I honestly have no idea how to feel. This story unlocked one of the recesses of my mind that holds some pretty ugly stuff that I’ve had to process and deal with in recent years. I started to go to a scary place in my mind, a place that I thought after all the work I had done to heal from would not be so bad…but it’s still there, waiting to suck me back in. I won’t get sucked into it though. I won’t go back to that broken place where I could barely get out of bed because I was so consumed with everything surrounding the issue. I know better ways to deal with the feelings.
Problem was, I didn’t use those better ways. I ate more. I didn’t go off the deep end or anything into a full-fledged binge, but I ate more than I needed to. Shockingly, it didn’t make the bad feelings go away. It made me feel worse. Instead of just taking it as information that I needed to deal with feelings and not food, my mind went into “all or nothing” mode. Well, if I overate, then I might as well not go to physical therapy, because, you know, if I’m just going to balloon back up and keep gaining weight, then there is no point in healing my back. (I still went to PT) Then it was the same thoughts surrounding going to the gym. (I still went to the gym). Then it was beating myself up because I went more slowly than usual at the gym. I wanted to walk away from everything completely.
And I wonder why I grow weary? I can’t shut off my head! That’s why! I can’t just “be.” I can’t just take something small and leave it as it is, I have to blow it completely out of proportion and let myself be consumed by it. I am truly my own worst enemy.
I’m frustrated. I lose sight of God’s perfect will for me and get stuck on my own agenda. I look at the weight loss graphs and instead of seeing a perfect downhill slope, it looks like a staircase–losing, maintaining for a few weeks, losing some more. I start to research all of the things that I’m possibly doing wrong scientifically so that I can correct them. I let little setbacks become giant stumbling blocks in my path.
God didn’t allow me to come this far (and in the grand scheme of things, I’m not that far yet) to allow me to fail. It’s a reminder to come back to my first love. To rely solely on Him. He will guide me. He will comfort me. He will calm my anxious heart. He will show me the proper reaction to a situation–if I seek Him first. I have to come back to God, first and always. It’s a simple but sobering answer to all of my problems. There’s no quick fix, there’s no mathematical solution, there’s no timetable. There’s just God working in my life to get me to not rely on me for what I need. This is where faith steps in. I have to have faith in the things unseen, unknown, not proven to me. The only way I’m going to see the result of fully relying on God is leaning on the promise that I don’t have to have all the answers, that I’m not alone in this. It’s an interesting place to be.
So, for today, I’m trying to be a little bit gentler and understanding with myself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s okay to be frustrated, and I am, but I know it won’t last forever. And I’m not quitting.
“It is possible to rise up, do battle with our issues, and, using the Lord’s strength in us, defeat them–spiritually, physically, and mentally–to the glory of God.” -Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional, page 47
I’ve had some strange looks in conversation with folks, especially lately, when they make a comment about my weight loss or weight loss in general, and I make sure that the first thing out of my mouth after an awkward “thank you” (I so don’t take comments/compliments well) is that I reference this is a whole person effort. It’s not just weight loss. Yes, that’s the easiest external tangible result of all of this process to discern and I’m learning to take some humble joy in that, but as I’ve said and will continue to say, it’s a spiritual, mental, and physical journey. They all need work. So what does all that mean?
Spiritual: I am not a disciplined person by nature, and as such, my spiritual life–my relationship with God–suffers. If nothing else on this journey, this is the area that I am seeking the most improvement. I let the “things” of life get in the way of my relationship with God–busyness, laziness, the amazing allure of a new TV show, food–the list could go on forever. But here’s the key of the issue: all of these “things” become idols. Each one of them become their own little god that draw my attention, my love, my worship, my adoration away from the one true God. I’ve come to a point where all these little idols are really on my nerves! Yes, I believe the fundamental truth that God should come before all things, but that does not reflect in my actions. Spiritual disciplines need just that–more discipline. I need to read my Bible more. I need to be in the fellowship of other believers more. I need to pray more. I need..I need..I need. I need to get the heck out of the way of myself is what I need to do! I don’t believe this is a work done alone, however. God has convicted me of this reality that I need to be in closer walk with Him. He will help me. His Holy Spirit will guide me to what I need to be doing, when I need to be doing it. I need to listen and obey. Teamwork.
Mental: I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, because, well, my skeletons aren’t any of your beeswax. Just know they’re getting their exorcism. Maybe I’ll touch on them someday, maybe I won’t. As I have shared though, part of this change will be how I treat myself and how I speak to myself. The negative self-abuse in my head has to stop. It’s not respectful of me, it’s not respectful of God and God’s creation, and it’s just plain mean. This I consider to be the area of second greatest need for improvement.
Physical: Important, yes. The most important? No. I believe physical change is the byproduct of the two above changes. Now, will weight just magically disappear? Of course not. Intentional efforts around healthy eating and exercise are necessary…I don’t get to defy the laws of nature just because I’m working on other stuff. It all works together. The reality of life is that I am not a healthy weight. I am putting my body at risk for disease. That is not honoring to me or God’s creation, and that’s unacceptable. I’m not going to be flocking to the beach in a bikini, um, ever–but I do commit to my goal of weighing 180lbs. (still high in some people’s view, but I have a lot of peace surrounding that number)
The key to all of this is that it’s a process. It’s a process. It’s a process. It will take time. I cannot wave a magic wand and wake up tomorrow totally changed. I cannot put it on a timetable. I don’t have an expiration date for self-improvement. I have my immediate goals, that will follow with more goals, and the cycle will repeat itself over and over. We never stop changing and growing–but that changing and growing for me will go in accordance with God’s will and guiding. I guess if you think about it, I’ll always be under construction–because we never really “arrive.” Yes, there will reach a point of physical completion, but that also requires maintenance. In all things, I will continue to learn, implement, and grow from all the days of my life. That’s okay. Surprisingly, I am okay with that. In the end, what matters is my faith and obedience in/to the One that created me for His purpose.