I tried to post this yesterday. Well, I posted this yesterday. And shortly after I posted it, a few people tried to read it, and it just wasn’t there. So if you follow my blog via email, and you’re receiving this almost verbatim again, sorry about that. The only reason I even have it is that it went to my Mom’s email and she forwarded it back to me. Thanks Mom!
Today I’d like to talk about being healthy.
A couple weeks ago, one of my grade 8 girls confessed to me that she thinks she’s fat, because she weighs 129 pounds. I explained to this sweet, sweet girl that she’s beautiful (and she is), and that those numbers mean different things for different people. That if that’s what she weighs at 14, she’ll likely weigh more as an adult, and that that’s ok, because she’s healthy, but she’s tall, so her bones need to weigh more to hold her up. She understood, and then I added “I’d probably end up in the hospital trying to get to 129 pounds. You need to be happy with who YOU are.”
She looked at me and she paused, and she said “really? why? what do you weigh?” Tempted to brush her off and tell her it was rude to ask, something in me reconsidered. This girl was having a genuine moment of poor self esteem based solely upon the number she saw on a scale. Not on her size, her health, her fitness level, her ability to do the activities that she wants to do…. a number that not many people even know about. I told her she’d be shocked, because it’s just a number, and it means very little when it comes to your overall health. And then I told her. And guess what…. she was shocked.
Am I happy with my number? Not necessarily. But I’m also aware that my issues are deeper seeded than simply a number. I don’t feel fat because of a number. Most days, I don’t even feel fat. I do feel unhealthy though, because I have a poor relationship with food and it needs to change. I know that with proper nutrition and slightly more exercise, it would be quite simple for me to get back to the 160 pounds where I was very content. But I’ve said it before — I didn’t do it properly the first time, and so guess what, some of the weight came back. I lost weight out of a desperate fight for control at a time in my life when I felt like I could control nothing else. Unwilling to give all of it to God, I fought for control of the one thing I could control, and I controlled it well. I dropped 90 pounds in 10 months. And I would have kept going, because dropping 90 pounds, 10 pants sizes, and countless inches all over my body did not fix my self esteem. I thought it would…. I thought it would get me a boyfriend and fix my problems and make me happy and it didn’t.
It took me a while to figure out the root of the problem — the root of my unhappiness was not that I was single. Because I’m still single, and I’m totally OK with that. The root of my unhappiness was not that I was fat, though I sincerely thought it was. It wasn’t that my parents got divorced, though I considered it. The root of my unhappiness was that every single one of us has a longing for something bigger than ourselves, and how we deal with that is how we define ourselves. When you meet people that are just completely sold on God, they trust in everything that He will be there and provide. They are secure in what they hope for — and not just fanciful wishful thinking hope, the kind of hope that Paul has, the kind that knows the truth and looks forward to the day that God’s promises of eternal life come true, knowing securely that this life is but a blip. They are trusting, and they are filling that longing for something deeper and more intimate than what we can get on Earth with study of scripture and a prayerful, listening, close, deep relationship with the Holy Spirit where they listen, let It lead, trust, and they don’t fret. The root of my unhappiness is that for many, many years I’d been filling my longing for Jesus with food, and guess what — it didn’t work. I just got fat. And it took years to figure that out. I was unhappy, and I tried to fix it, and I couldn’t, so I counted every single calorie, making sure to never eat more than 12-1400 in a day while also either walking or running for an hour or more daily (I know, I know, terrible. I promise not to ever do it again). I obsessed. And not once did I trust God with my plan for a “healthy” me.
I looked good on the outside, but I was incomplete and dying inside.
As life situations gradually shifted, changed, and mostly improved, I stopped grasping so hard for control and I relaxed on my crazy diet rules, and I gained weight back. But until this fall, I was completely happy with whatever the weight was, because I was eating fairly well, I was exercising, and this was my body’s natural rhythm. I found that something went hand in hand with that — I had begun to trust God with my circumstances, because there came a point where I realized that I legitimately have no control, and that nothing I can do will change that, so why bother?
I have slipped back out of that. Gradually. Almost like a frog in boiling water. I look at myself and realize that I’ve gained back 55 pounds and that I’m not even entirely sure how it happened. I mean I know how it happened… I’m not dumb, and I had the mechanics of weight loss mastered: consume less than you burn and you lose. Consume WAY less than you burn, and you lose lots. Not the healthiest, but it was effective for its purposes at the time.
I read a book lent to me by a friend of mine called Made To Crave. In it, Lysa TerKeurst, the author, talks about this very thing — how we are made to crave God, but how Satan and his minions will fill us with cravings for so many other things to distract us.
So here is where I get to the point. I loved the book. It resonated with me. It spoke to me. It made me think. It made me realize that I was at it again, that I was filling my need for God with food, and that I can’t keep doing it or I will be fat and unhappy and spiritually far from God.
Through the process of reading the book, I downloaded YouVersion for my iPhone, and have begun to follow some GREAT reading plans. I have never been so consistent in reading the Bible for so long, and I love it. I love what I can see it doing in me, and I love how I can sense that even after a few months at it, I am more in tune with the nudgings of the Spirit.
But I’m not there yet. I have a long road ahead to healthy, and it’ll be even longer because I am at a point where I am content with what I look like on most days. Sure, I have bad days, but I think everyone does. My overall self esteem though is decent. I’m not a size 6, I may never be, and I certainly don’t want to be obsessive enough to maintain it even if I ever get there, but I also know that no matter what size I am, I am beautiful, loved, cherished, valued, and considered useful by my Heavenly Father, and I was created that way.
That being said, my body is a living sacrifice to God. That means that there are going to be times where I want donuts and nanaimo bars and chocolate and all manner of delicious disgusting things, and I have to say no because I want them for the wrong reasons. With this very point in mind, I tried to give up a bunch of these things for Lent. And I screwed up. I have given into temptation anyway because I want to, and I haven’t been doing well at upholding the promises I made and commitments I laid out. So I will restart, because this will not be just another thing that I say “well I already screwed it up” to and go back to where I was.
So I am making it public, …ish, so that I have people who know.
For Lent, in order to rely on God when I want the following things and in order to in the process, draw closer to Him, I am committing again to give up the following things:
- Snacks when I am not hungry, as well as unhealthy snacks when I am
- Fast Food
And here’s the thing — I’ve already figured out that I can’t do this. But through me, God can. So please pray for me.
Some food for thought:
9 Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. 10 Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:9-10
19 Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. 13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 1 Cor. 10:12-14
19 I speak this way, using the illustration of slaves and masters, because it is easy to understand. Before, you let yourselves be slaves of impurity and lawlessness. Now you must choose to be slaves of righteousness so that you will become holy. Romans 6:19
12 You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 1 Cor. 6:12
In semi-related news, I’ve joined a gym, and am going to start working out again. And I finally signed up for a race in May, because I’ve been saying I love running for almost a year now, but I haven’t done it since July and I planned to race LAST spring. So the motivation is signed up for. I paid for the race registration fee, I’m going. My goal is not to win, because I feel like that’ll be quite disappointing at this point. But my goal is to finish that 5k, and to rely on God to do so.
And a quote to end the rambly post….
Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.
What I want most is a solid relationship with my Father, uninhibited by an unhealthy relationship with food. I want that more than donuts and chocolate. More than donuts and chocolate and all other delectable goodies, I want to address my issues with gluttony and sloth, and with God’s help, I’ll be the me He made me to be.
And as a footnote, now adding this on Sunday to what I wrote on Saturday. I learned something cool in church today, that I had never put together before, no matter how many times I’d read the story of Joseph. We’ve been studying Joseph’s story, and today we were in Genesis 41-45, the part of the story where the brothers have to go to Joseph when he’s ruling in Egypt to ask for grain because they’re going to starve, and they leave Benjamin at home. Of course, Joseph recognizes them, and recognizes that Benjamin is missing, but given that the last time the brothers saw Joseph was when he was 17 and he’s now like 40, and they sold him into slavery so they’re totally not expecting him to be the right hand man to Pharaoah….. they don’t recognize him.
Our Pastor talked about the different character traits of God this morning, and he said that from the perspective of Joseph’s brothers, God would be a God of Vengeance… they look at the things happening to them as punishment from God for what they did to Joseph. But our Pastor suggested… what if God isn’t into Vengeance really, so much as He’s into loving discipline. Yeah, the brothers felt terribly guilty for what they did to Joseph, it was a terrible thing… but what ended up coming of it was all tied together. Judah, the ringleader behind the idea to sell Joseph into slavery in the first place, ends up going from a place where he’s so self-serving that he’ll sell his brother into slavery for money, not caring what happens to him, because he just can’t deal with the things Joseph is prophesying will come to pass. Where we see Judah by the end of chapter 45 is that he’s willing to trade his life for Benjamin’s because he can’t stand the thought of having to deliver the anguish-ridden news to Jacob that he couldn’t get Benjamin back. God is the God of loving discipline. He doesn’t have to be angry with us when we sin because He poured out His vengeance and wrath on Jesus, who took that for us. That doesn’t mean there won’t be judgment for our sins, but we don’t have to live in fear.
The End. Hopefully it actually posts this time.