Thursday, January 30, 2014

More of the Dirty Truth

Wow it has been a long time since I have written.  I can explain this hiatus by the fact that it seems to be getting harder and I have nothing productive to say...just whining.  No one likes to hear someone say the same thing over and over, especially if they are just feeling sorry for themselves.  For that reason, I have laid off the computer keys.  Today, however, I have some things to share regarding what I have seen in myself.  I continue to dissect my issues and get down to the root causes.  You hear the saying "it is what it is" and that is not the case.  If you take my compulsive exercising/eating issues at face value, then you miss the more serious impediment and significantly minimize the true affliction.  This didn't just "happen" to me as I used to believe.  I would get so mad at God and ask him why me and why would He not just take it away...meanwhile I was holding onto it will all of my might, not willing to trust God and give it up.

I have started a new Bible study called "Sweet Relationships."  There are a few things that set the wheels of thought in motion yesterday. Through reading and conversation with my husband, I saw more of myself and the truth of why this is so hard for me.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

The author asked a question after citing this verse.  She asked when you invest in something, what goes with it?  For years, I have made HUGE investments in my body.  Like a person with a gambling problem, I kept investing more and more into the pot despite the repercussions that were coming a long with it.  I was investing in the physical appearance of my body so there was my heart also.  My heart being on myself?? That is not depicting Christ. Not at all.  A few months ago I would have argued that my heart was not there but completely on my family first.  After all, that is why I got up and worked out so early.  I did not want it to take away from time with my family.  I wanted to do it while they were asleep.  Truth is, even though I worked out while they were asleep, it did take away from them.  I could not give them my best because my best was worn down into a lesser version of me.  When living out of God's will, one cannot receive His best, nor can one give his/her best.  What I am struggling to embrace is that my BEST has nothing to do with my weight or what I look like.  Maybe it does according to society where everything is driven by fleshly desires. I have to ask myself if I want to give my best to fall in with the misguided world by investing in fleshly things or to give my eternal best which also benefits my loved ones most with the knowledge that investing based on worldly standards will never reap the rewards that giving my eternal best will undoubtedly do every time.  I have actually seen first hand that investing so heavily in these fleshly aspirations has only caused problems and heartache. 

One thing that is making this "recovery" time so hard is seeing people posting their fitness feats and motivation and such.  It drives me crazy to see them identifying themselves this way.  On one hand, I want to say "Stop!! Just look at your motives.  Are they to bring glory to God?"  Like I said in a previous post, if your goal is to have a six pack, you cannot equate that to bringing glory to God.  For one, true modesty would never allow you to show the said six pack. (I say that as someone who has worn a bikini in public and has worked out in a sports bra. I can also admit that after having my baby, I sincerely wanted people to know I had a six pack. Although I never showed it to anyone, I am still very embarrassed by the yearning for people to know. It is embarrassing to admit even here. I am not a bit better than anyone doing those things. I am not claiming to be faultless nor am I saying that someone who wears a bikini does not have their heart right with God.  I am claiming to be growing and learning in Christ and posting pictures of your body is not modest.)  Likewise, if you did show your six pack, not one viewer would be prompted to worship God.  They would be looking at your six pack.  Sounds simple enough, huh?  BUT that is not the only reason these things bother me...there is the reason I am ashamed of...PRIDE.

Through discussing my pride issue with my husband, I saw why seeing people like this on social media or out in real life who are devoting their energy to physical goals built on edifying self REALLY bothers me.  I am prideful.  My pride has been masquerading as competitiveness and perfectionism because these things are not so outwardly dirty.  However, call it what you will, pride is pride and pride drives these things.  Why does someone hate losing?  They do not want to feel like someone else is better in that area.  They do not want the other person to think of themselves as better.  According to the definition, what does pride do?  It thinks of itself above others. 

I do not walk around puffed up.  It is when I encounter people who I think are trying to be fitter or thinner or to work out better than me that I become threatened and want to stick my chest out like the roosters in our back yard.  I do not want them to think they are better than me. That is one reason I struggle with not working out and with gaining weight.  I am not the thinnest nor the most in shape.  I even catch myself fearing that people are trying to one-up what I was as I am obviously not a threat now.  I have said often of a few family/friends, that if I was just surrounded by them, this would be so much easier.  Let me clarify by saying that it is not because I see myself as better than them. Truth be told, each of them are far prettier than I am.  The reason I am not threatened by them, though, and being around them does not well up competitiveness is that they are not out to compete.  They have things in perspective.  I do not feel for a second that they look at me or anyone with the goal of being better.

I am so worried about what people think in this way.  When I first started this, I even thought about posting on Facebook what I was doing and confessing the sin area.  I could never get comfortable enough to do it though.  Now I see that my motives would not have been pure.  To be honest, now I  see that I would have been using that post to say (in between the lines), "Don't think you are winning. I am stepping down from the competition in order to pursue more important things."

So what am I to do with all of this?  I do not want to be prideful, nor do I want to be forcefully humbled.  I can't avoid most people and literally just surround myself with godly women in which I wish to learn from.  I need to humble myself, surround myself with godly women, learn from them and then go out in the world and be a godly woman instead of going out in the world and trying to be one of the world.  If I am compelled all of the time to compete in unholy endeavors then I am not being set apart.  I guess when I get the feeling of needing to compete, I will try to just shut it down by reminding myself of the truth behind it and praying for God to take the feeling away. 

One more side note: After 67 days of not working out, I did a small workout yesterday.  I don't know when I can do one again.  My husband and I have talked about resuming workouts to ad nauseum and have not come to a place of agreement.  We have discussed how work outs cannot go back to what they were and my relationship with exercising cannot be the same.  I feel like I am ready as long as my husband has some control over it.  I think keeping a log for him to review is a good idea.  I am just waiting on him to become more comfortable with the idea and to be in a place where he feels he can trust me; and when I can trust myself to stay on guard; and that it will not hinder the physical healing that we hope is happening.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

REdefining Moment

I was in some deep thought yesterday and had trouble going to sleep last night.  I have often brought up the subject to my husband wondering what are the markers I am looking for so I will know when I am ready to exercise again.  Health-wise, it is easy to set a goal or a target weight or time frame, but spiritually, it is not so cut and dry.  It is a waiting game for God to show me.  Yesterday, I believe He showed me something.  I think that maybe He is redefining exercise for me.  I can't start back until I see it differently.  Bear with me as I explain this thought process...

A series of separate, unrelated moments, when lumped together, set my mind into motion.  I got to thinking about our temples.  God gave us our bodies as temples for worship.  Our whole purpose in life, after all, is to bring glory to God.  At what point did society as a whole forget that?  Do you think the Israelites woke up in the morning doing push ups or stomach crunches? No.  They got their exercise working, I am sure.  I don't remember reading in the Bible where they went beyond that to get leaner or look a certain way.  Obviously this is not because they were perfect.  They built false gods to worship, for instance.  Society today doesn't need to construct a god out of stone because we have figured out how to worship things such as materialism, people, and our own bodies.   Let me be specific for the sake of an example.  A six pack. Not the beverage kind, but I am talking abs.  Yes, some freaks of nature are born with such, but for the vast majority of folks, it cannot be achieved beyond a strict diet and exercise.  For me and the thickness of my skin and the distribution of fat on my body, I have to have a very (unhealthy) low body fat to achieve one and it is still only the kind that mostly only makes itself visible when I am moving.  For me to devote time and work out with the intense purpose of achieving a six pack, more definition, or what have you, is for me to seek glory for myself.  I thought about it and seriously, there is no way (that I could possibly think of) that a six pack brings glory to God. None. Whatsoever.  Why do people want things like this?  Why have I always wanted to achieve such as this? For admiration. For praise.  Defined abs or legs or muscular hiney do not turn people toward Christ.  Instead, it says "Look at me."  I know someone might be getting mad at me right now.  Please don't.  I don't like it either, but I really don't think I came up with it on my own.  Am I saying that I think people with muscular, lean bodies are sinning?!? NO!! That is not what I am saying at all.  I am saying that I believe (as of yesterday when these things crept inside of me) that exercising BEYOND what is required to be healthy or what is enjoyable (which means that relationships are not sacrificed, health is not compromised, joy is not stolen), is reaching for something unholy.  It is to attain a goal. One that does not bring God glory, but glory to self.  I don't think there is anything wrong with doing the type of workouts I used to do ON OCCASION, when I feel like it and it is enjoyable, BUT no one wants to do it everyday.  Stop before you claim that you do.  A while ago, I would have said the exact same thing.  However, there is a great divide between wanting to do something (think: wanting to go to the park, wanting to play outside with your kids) and feeling the compulsion to do something (think: I want to because I am afraid if I don't ____ or I want to because I want my body to look like ____).  I exercised compulsively.  While I definitely enjoy exercising, getting my heart rate up, sweating, and my first exercise love of lifting weights, I did not enjoy the intense workouts I made myself do every day.  I was tired.  I was ill.  I was rushed.  I know some people need to exercise for health and they do not enjoy it so I am not saying everyone should sit on the couch if they don't like exercising.  Maybe traditional exercise is just not for them and they need something more recreational.  That is another subject.

I think when I do exercise again, it will consist of lifting weights some every week because I need that for my health, especially since I have spent so much time underweight.  I don't want my bones to break into pieces.  I will probably try some new videos that will be fun.  I will run and jump and play outside with my little man.  I will ride a bicycle with him in tow and my husband beside me.  I will not have a do or die routine or number of days to work out; and I will not choose exercise over fellowship.  I will never let it interfere with being a wife and a mom.  I will strive for health and a life, not for six packs and low body fat.  I am sure this won't all automatically come naturally; but with work and getting my heart right, it will be easier.  I still don't know when I can begin as I am still waiting on God to help me heal and show me things (and on my spiritual leader to give me permission).

I may have not said things perfectly.  Some may be rolling their eyes.  If so, just chalk it up to a blogger's rambles.  I do truly believe that this was a revelation for me from my Father.  I am excited because I feel that I can carry it beyond this particular area of my life and relate it to materialism, modesty, etc.  In everything, I want to ask why I am doing it or desiring it.  Is it for my glory or for God's gory alone?