Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

I Did a Thing

Running has been a hugely important part of my adult life.  I found my way back to God because of running.  I found self-confidence because of running.

I have ran 4 marathons, 4 half-marathons, 1 amazing Army Ten Miler, and a few shorter races.

And during my last marathon, I was about 5 miles in, and my thought at the time was that this was stupid.  I had already proven I could run a marathon, multiple times.  So I no longer had anything to prove.  I made the decision to take some time off of running, and a year later, I had just started running a couple of times, and then broke my ankle in 3 places.

My ankle makes me look like I’m turning into Wolverine.  And I’m kind of ok with that aspect of it.  The pain associated with it, not so much.

But there isn’t much I can do about that.

My knees are another matter entirely.  I have known for many years that we are on the “when not if” timeline of my knees needing to be replaced.

For the past several months, I have been walking.  A lot.  It’s all Cheese’s fault.  And I really thought that I had come to the place where I was ok with not running any more.  Just with walking, my knees ache.  And how much more damage do I really want to put my knees through.

Turns out, I failed at following my own rules.

Buy.  Good.  Shoes.

For my birthday, that hasn’t happened.  Yet.  My mom took me shoe and bra shopping.  The bra shopping is a completely different story that I just can’t get into yet.  But shoe shopping is always an awesome time.  You MUST go to a shoe store where they actually know what they’re talking about.  When you enter the store, and you can physically tell that the people working are also runners, it’s a good start.

I’m not the shoe salesman, so I’m not even going to get into the details of the differences in shoes.  All I’m going to tell you is find the shoes that fit you best.  That are most comfortable for you.  Brooks have always worked well for me.  I have ran all of my marathons, except the first, in Brooks.  I LOVE my Brooks.

My mom, on the other hand, hated her Brooks.  It’s all about what works best for you.

Did I mention I love my Brooks???

Anyway, I got new “walking” shoes for my birthday.  And it’s made a HUGE difference.  Embarrassingly so, my now retired Brooks were many years old.  I ran my last marathon 6 and a half years ago.  I was still walking in the shoes that I ran that marathon in.  Not a good idea.

So no wonder everything hurt.

After I started walking in my new shoes, I had a yearning.  A yearning to run.  Because truth be told, I desperately miss running.  Not really the feeling like I’m going to die while I’m running kind of thing.  I miss what running does for me.

I started by running a quarter of a mile.

And it felt awesome!

The next time, I decided to run the last mile home.  Cheese thought it was the best day ever, and couldn’t understand why I was running so slow.

Tip: If your dog is a sprinter, like Cheese, do NOT run at his or her pace.  Run at the pace YOU NEED TO RUN.

Had I ran at Cheese’s pace, I would have passed out after about 10 feet.

I might not have even made it that far.

But I ran a mile.  And beyond that, I ran a mile at an 11:30 pace!  Which isn’t fast.  But then, I have never been a fast runner.  And when I haven’t ran at all in a couple of years, I’m more than please with an 11:30 pace.

So, then I did another thing.  Last night, I ran almost 2.5 miles.  Not all at once.  I walked, than ran a mile-ish, then walked some more, then ran another mile-ish.  All adding up to almost 2.5 miles.  And I ran them at an average of a 10:30 pace!!  Granted, I felt like I was going to die for a little while.  But I did it!!

But beyond actually just being able to run that far, something else far greater happened.  I, my mind, my body, everything, remembered why I love running.  I had a smile on my face!!!  While I was running!!  That hasn’t happened in FAR TOO LONG!!!

I know that should I continue to do this, I need to do some serious strength training.

But I kind of already started looking at the calendar for how far away this one 1/2 marathon is next Spring.  And to just see if it might be a viable option.  Maybe.  Just, maybe.

But for now, this pretty much sums up where I am in life…

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Life is an Adventure

Youth group: last night.  12 teens, 6 adults, sitting around my friends living room.  Awkward looks across the room. How is this going to go? Am I really prepared to do this?  

Of course I am.  

I love youth group.  

Stressful as they may be to work with at times, and yesterday was definitely a stressful day, I love working with teenagers.  

And the series that we are starting with is so much fun.  Life is an adventure.  

So here are the basics of it:

There seems to be this formula for being a Christian that we all think we have to follow to make it to heaven one day.  But look for more unique, or beyond the normal ways of spending time with God.

When asked what they thought of when asked how to spend time with God, we got a whole list of church answers.  You know what I’m talking about. Read my Bible. Pray. Go to church.  

Don’t get me wrong, I do think those things are important.  Because they are. But they are far from the only ways to spend time with God.  

Several people opened up last night that they struggle with reading the Bible.  They just simply struggle with being able to comprehend what it actually means, or the message that it is trying to convey.  I get it. Been there myself. Some days, I still am there myself.  Because when it gets into Deuteronomy and it keeps listing the rules over and over and over and OVER again, my eyes start to cross, and I simply start to wander off into la la land.  

It happens.

Don’t tell me you’ve never experienced it.

But there are strategies to help focus more, and to understand what the Bible is actually talking about.  For one, I started reading a Life Application Study Bible. So beyond actually reading what the Bible says, super smart people also tell us what’s actually going on, why it is important, and how you can apply principles that were established thousands of years ago, to life today.  For example, in my Old Testament reading I am currently in Exodus, and it’s the part where Moses is explaining all of the rituals that God commanded them to have in order to worship Him.  

The first few times I read this, I thought it was absurd.  And I didn’t understand it. And I got frustrated. But there was one comment in my Bible that has helped me tremendously.  People living at that time didn’t know how to worship.

Did you catch that?

Worshiping God was a completely brand new concept.  

So looking at this, reading this, from the perspective that I have, where people have worshiped God for thousands of years, we kind of know what to do.  

But back in the day, no one had any idea of what to do, or how to worship.  What they weren’t supposed to do, or wear, or anything.  

So knowing that one teeny, tiny piece of information makes complete sense.  So now I’m reading with that lens in place, and it is far less ridiculous.  

If you go back to the beginning of what I was writing in this post, you should recall that our discussion last night centered around the non-formulaic ways to spend time with God.  And then I brought up Exodus, and the very strict formula they were given to worship God. So why did things change? 

Easy.

Jesus.

Jesus changed everything.  

Jesus made this relationship possible. His life, his death, his sacrifice, made my life possible.

So…adventures.

The last big adventure I went on was near the end of summer, and I went on a short trip with 2 of my girlfriends from college, to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  Which just seems ludicrous. Because there is no possible way that I started college 20 years ago. Except, we did. So when we started planning this trip, and the location that we chose, it was mentioned that ziplining was available.  

My mom has even stated that she wanted to try ziplining sometime.

So I mentioned that I had never went, and I needed to check it off my bucket list.

I’m an idiot.

Because guess what?

I hate heights.  Like, really hate them.  A lot. Just thinking about it gives me heart palpitations.  And I might cry. Or pee my pants a little.

Ok, maybe not.  

So first of all, let me tell you one thing.  When we actually made the plans to go ziplining, I started praying.  A lot. Because I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it.  So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Before, during, and after.  

If life, and my relationship with God, is an adventure, I think my experience ziplining describes it quite perfectly.  When I was standing on the platform, getting hooked up to the line, I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. I was scared to take that leap the very first time.  Because I had no idea what to expect. Am I really about to trust a harness and a little strip of cord to support me and carry me to the next platform? What is it going to feel like?  Am I going to vomit? I had no idea what to expect.  

For those of you who are tentative about beginning a relationship with God, you may feel much like I did standing on that platform.

But I lept.  And it was amazing.  

I landed on the next platform, that happened to be up a tree.  So we’re all standing on the platform, and it’s swaying a little.  And I really think that I might puke. I am completely freaking out yet again.  And then it was my turn to zip once again. I stood up to get attached to the line.  And I couldn’t lift my feet. I thought they were going to have to push me. But then I had the realization that being stuck up the tree was my problem.  That is what was making me nervous. I knew that as soon as I lifted my feet, and trusted the line and the harness and our guides, I would be perfectly fine.

And.  I. Was.  

Maybe you’re exactly where I was up in that tree.  You’ve began your relationship with God, but you’ve landed on the platform, which isn’t a bad place to be.  But you’re afraid to move forward. You’re afraid to take the leap, because you just aren’t sure of what is going to happen.  Things turned out fine the first time, but what if the next time, they don’t. What if it isn’t going to feel the same? What if it’s worse?  

Well, guess what?  I had 7 lines to zip.  And every single time I had to lift my feet and jump, it kept getting easier and easier.  

By the end, I wasn’t holding on with a death grip.  I was relaxing, and going with the flow. I even let myself flip upside down, because I trusted that I would be ok.

Your relationship with God is and adventure.  It can and it will be scary sometimes.  But in the end, it is so totally and completely worth it.

Personally, I can’t wait to go ziplining again.

Yes, you can be nervous.  But take the leap. I promise, it’s worth it.  

Live the adventure.

Love the adventure.

I Have Created a Monster

I have created a monster.  I’m not saying I’m like Dr. Frankenstein, and have scavenged graveyards, piecing together some monster that is going to try to kill me…because, ew.  

No, what I have created is much, much worse than that.  

Are you ready to see this great beast?  

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Yup, the monster I have created is my dog, Cheese.  

Terrifying, itsn’t he?

4 weeks ago, I made a choice to begin this journey of banishing my scale, and focus more on my relationship with God, and spending time with Him.  Letting his view of me affect my own self-worth much more than a stupid number on a scale.

And yes, part of that process was to start spending more time exercising.  And, because my knees and ankle hate me, it seems walking is going to be the exercise of choice.  At least for now.

Also, because Cheese can be an energetic lunatic at times, I decided that it was time for both of us to get into shape.  Physically and spiritually.  Because, Cheese needs Jesus too.  

Cheese is 3.  And I have taken him for walks before.  There was even a point last year when I made a slightly misguided attempt at getting him to run with me.  My knees said “no” even though I really thought it was a fantastic idea. But I will admit that my own failings at regularly exercising kept Cheese from doing the same thing.  So that’s on me.

But I screwed up somewhere.  

Before this year, the longest walk Cheese and I had taken was 3 miles.  Well, our first outing, just over a month ago, we walked 4 miles. He was worn out, but he tackled those 4 miles like a champ.

Ok, this is awesome.  He enjoys going for a walk with me.  I had no idea what I had started.

But knowing that he enjoyed going for walks…between the exercise and the uninterrupted alone time with mommy, he was all for it.

So we kept going…and going…and going…

It has gotten to the point that if I don’t immediately come get him to go for a walk as soon as I get home from school, I’m in trouble.  He starts barking at me to hurry up, and he stares at the house with this judgy little look on his face.

And heaven forbid if my schedule or the weather intercedes and we CAN’T go for a walk.  The world is ending!!!

Well…last week, because I go to a Life Group with a group from my church on Wednesday, there just isn’t enough time to really go for a walk.  Then it rained on Thursday, so again, no walk.

Friday, I get home from school…and the weather is decent.  So I change, and we head out. This is us about what turned out to be half way through our walk.  

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I look excited, right?  

Grand total for Friday, just over 6 miles.

Grand total for the weekend, 15 miles.

15 miles!!!  

Cheese is an excellent personal trainer.  And honestly, he really is making it easy for me to want to get out and walk.  There have been days where I just wasn’t feeling it. But knowing he was looking forward to walking made me get out and do it.

And how do I know that Cheese enjoys it so much?  Well…just look at this face…

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Pure joy.  Right there.  

Absolute.  

Pure.  

Joy.

So there you have it.

Personal Trainer.  Workout Buddy. Beast.  

I have created a monster.  

How Much Is Too Much?

Day 16.  Of 42.

One question has been crossing my mind lately, and it is:

Has my addiction just changed?

Let me explain.  If you remember from the original post about this journey of getting closer to God, while getting rid of my scale…the goal here is to not let a number on a scale determine my self-worth.  I need to take care of my body, but I really need to take care of my soul.  But yet, I wonder if I have just traded one number for another that I am allowing to identify myself.  Also, have I gone off the deep end, and am I exercising too much?

I don’t have the answers to those questions.  At least not yet.

I am in a recurring weekly competition, through Fitbit, with some friends.  Who has the most steps throughout the work week? Well, the last few weeks, I have been blowing away the competition.  And all I have been doing is taking a walk with Cheese the dog a few evenings a week. And I have made a greater effort to actually reach my daily step goal every day (on days that I don’t go for a walk).  

But then, after the first week, I noticed that there were a few moments where I legitimately thought I was going to pass out.  But that one, I figured out. Turns out, I had increased my activity level…but I hadn’t increased my caloric intake. So…no wonder I thought I was going to pass out.  So that’s a easy fix. For someone that loves food…just eat more food! Woohoo!!

But the nagging question still resides in the back of my brain…how much is too much?  

The first time Cheese and I went for a 5 miles walk, he lost the energy to pull me after about 3 miles.  Our last 5 mile walk was absolutely his fault. I had had one of those days at school that was just busy.  And I ended up walking. A lot. In fact, I had 12,000 steps in by the time I walked in my back door after school.  In case you were wondering, 12,000 steps is approximately 6 miles. And that’s just walking up and down the halls at school.  But then, I knew I needed to take Cheese for a walk. Part of my goal is taking him for regular walks is he needs the exercise.  He’s full of energy, and this has proven to be an excellent way to burn off the excess energy he has. So, I get home from school, already half done for the day.  But we hadn’t taken a walk the night before, and he needed to just go. So we walk. My goal was 3 miles. We get to the turning point if we are going to go 3 miles, or extend for another mile…and he’s still full of energy.  So I agree to go the extra mile. Literally.

The problem was…nearing the time that his energy level normally starts to wane, he is still raring to go.  So…we ended up walking 5 miles. And he could have kept going, like the Energizer Bunny.

I was pooped.  

So, again, I’m asking…how much is too much?  After months of inactivity, is this simply just a return of activity to my life, and the change appears drastic?  Is this the marathon runner in me, in it for the distance, because what’s the point of a 5k?  

So let me get to the point of why this question keeps nagging at me.  There was one summer I was at home from college.  I had had mono during the semester before. But I was also going dealing with some pretty serious anorexia and bulimia that summer.  It was the first summer that I ever weighed less than 200 pounds.

That summer was awful.  

In addition to the eating disorders, I would walk and work out.  Relentlessly.

I would walk for miles a day.  And then I would come home, and work out.  And I wouldn’t eat. Or if I did, I would throw it up.  

I was crazy.

Ok, technically, I still probably am.  

Because, who wants to be normal?  Normal is boring.

But the past fear has made me pause.  Because no matter how far in the rear view mirror that summer is, I remember it.  But maybe, just maybe, that summer is sitting there as a reminder of how not to do things.  

So here’s where I’m landing:

I’m not going off the deep end.  Because the activity level feels good for me.  And it feels really good for Cheese. The goal being for him to exercise enough so he stops acting like a lunatic.

But it has also brought about opportunities that I might not have had otherwise.  On Sunday, I met one of my neighbors, and had a lovely conversation. I have lived in my house for 7 years.  And she has lived there the entire time I have been living there. And this is the first conversation we have ever had.  I knew who she was. She knew who I was. But it took 7 years for us to actually talk to one another. That wouldn’t have happened if Cheese and I hadn’t been out walking.  

Also, it led me to not feel guilty when I went out with a group of teachers Friday after school.  I hadn’t planned it. But I also didn’t condemn myself for taking in way too many calories. I let myself just enjoy the time.  It fed my soul.

I still have not weighed myself.  And I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m not curious.  Because I am.

But I can also tell a change in my body.  My legs are more muscular (even after only a few weeks).  I’m sleeping better. But oh…I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.

I have been spending time talking to God.  I spend time while I’m walking talking to God.  Because how magnificent of a landscape does God paint?  And I sing while I’m walking. Worship, while I’m walking is so amazing.  And, of course, reading my Bible.

Ok, I have a confession to make.

I have never read the entire Bible.  

I had never read the entire book of Acts before last week.  And I’m now in Romans. Whew, Romans is going to take me awhile.  

Because every single word that Paul writes is said with so much conviction that it blows me away!  

So here’s the true measurement.  

I feel closer to God.  

So whether I’m walking 20 extra miles a week, or indulging in chocolate chip cookies…the thing that really matters is I’m succeeding in feeling God working in my life more and more every day.  

Progress Report #1

4 days into my life, post banishing my scale, and I’m not gonna lie…this is hard.  (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go read Be Gone, Evil Thing!)

Have you ever been addicted to anything?  I’m not even talking about smoking, or alcohol or things worse than that.  You can be addicted to just about anything. So, then, breaking that addiction can be a challenge.  

That’s basically what this feels like.  Like I’m feening to weigh myself.

I haven’t.  But I kind of want to.  

I have handed this struggle over to God, but I’m not so sure I can handle not being in control.

Why, as humans, as Christians, do we insist on turning something over to God…Jesus take the wheel…and then picking it right back up.  Ok, sometimes we yank it back from God’s hands. And hold it close. Like we’re a toddler unwilling to share a toy.

This happens all the time.  I know I do it way too often.  One moment, I’m completely trusting God to handle something, because lord knows I’m not strong enough to handle it on my own.  But then I keep worrying about it. And I pick it back up. Because worrying about it is obviously going to make me feel so much better about the situation.  And my worrying about it is obviously going to solve the problem.

I’m sorry, can I roll my eyes any louder?

When you hand something over to God, wouldn’t it be fantastic if He gave us this big, flashing neon sign with the answer?  

Of course it would.

Have you ever actually gotten such a sign from God?

No.  

God does, in fact, speak to us.  But sometimes we have to pay very close attention to the world around us, because God isn’t going to use a big, flashing neon sign.  Nope, he’s going to use what is happening in the world around us to answer our prayers.

Now is this going to look exactly like what we want it to?

Probably not.

So it can be frustrating when God is speaking to us, but we’re not using the right tools to hear him.  We aren’t using the correct ruler to measure the progress on how God is handling the situation.

So how does this all fit in with banishing my scale?

Stick with me, I can explain.

When I banished my scale, I did so purposefully.  Because I was using my scale, and the number on it, to determine my self-worth.  The number on the scale was telling me something that deep down, I just know isn’t true.  That number was telling me that I wasn’t good enough, not strong enough, not worthy enough.

When whatever ruler you are using to measure your self-worth is telling you such negative things, BANISH IT!!

As I originally stated, I would still keep track of my nutrition, more as a tool to keep myself in check, and avoid gluttony.  Not going to lie, I have a tendency to binge eat, on occasion. So keeping track of calories helps keep me in check.

And I have been doing that.  In fact, my nutrition has been on point this week.  

It also helps that the weather has finally decided to stay above freezing, and I have been able to get out and exercise (ie, let my dog Cheese take me for a walk) every day.  Between being sick, and the weather, an overwhelming laziness came over me. And that isn’t me. At all. So I am taking full advantage of the weather.

So between eating right.  And exercising. And despite a cold.  I feel great!

Of course, because I feel so great, I’m curious about what that number on the scale is going to say.  

IF…and I do say IF…I would decide to break down, and allow my scale to return from exile, 1 of 2 things would happen.  The first option would be that it would confirm my feeling good, and the number would have gone down. But then, I’ve been exercising, and even though there are other factors in play (loss of fat, gain of muscle, etc).  So the second possibility is that the number has gone up. Which even despite the fact that I may have lost fat and gained muscle, would crush my soul. I would be devastated. The feeling fantastic would immediately turn into depression, all because of a stupid number on a scale.

So let me ask you this question, why, oh why, oh why are we not satisfied with how we feel?  

Right now, the ruler based solely on how I feel is amazing.  And I guarantee, the moment I step on a scale, that feeling is going to change.  

That, that right there is what has stopped me from breaking the exile.  

I.  Feel.  Good.

Nothing else matters.

So even though I’m curious, I am staying strong.

Actually, no.  No I’m not. I am not strong.  God is strong. God is giving me the strength to do this.

4 days down.  At least 38 to go.  

What Am I Not Doing?

What am I not doing?

Talk about a terrifying question, with some potentially terrifying answers.

Last night, I talked to a dear, sweet friend.  A friend, who, we both agreed, do not talk often enough.  She’s been my person, and my support, even though sometimes we go months without talking.  

The exciting thing is is that she’s getting married.  I am absolutely over the moon happy for her. Genuinely, ecstatically happy.  Because she is happy. You know the kind of happy that just explodes out of someone’s face?

Well, it just so happens that her fiance has never been married before.  And, as women of a certain age, that doesn’t happen very often. But his comment was that he has been waiting for her to come along.

She sent me a passage that her fiance read to the point he memorized it.  And he let that keep running through his head. It’s a beautiful passage titled “A Message From God About the Perfect Human Relationship.”  But this beautiful, well written passage, prompted me to ask, once again…what am I not doing?

As a Christian, as a Jesus follower, what am I not doing?  

I am certain that I am far from perfect.  There is not one thing in this universe that I am more sure of.  But I also know that I am better than I once was. (Isn’t there a country song in there somewhere?)

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

So I know that God has this super awesome and amazing plan for my life!  And I’m going to let God take control of things. And it’s going to be, like, the best thing ever.

Meanwhile, in the back of your mind…

So I’m just going to say that, and play along for a little while…and hope that saying that makes all of  MY hopes, MY dreams, MY plans come true. Because, clearly, I know what is best for my life.

Hey guess what?

That’s not how it works.  Not even close.

I know that’s what has been going through my head.  

I DO want God to use me for whatever he has planned for my life.   Honestly, purely, genuinely. In the depths of my heart, I want God to use me. I want God’s plan for my life.

But at the same time, what I haven’t done, is let go of MY plan.  

So here goes.  I’m letting go of my plan.  Because maybe it isn’t in God’s plan for my life to get married, or have kids, or travel (more than I already have), or be the perfect teacher, or perfect gardener, or be in perfect physical shape.  And it’s honestly, truly terrifying to let go of those plans. I have spent years and years and years making those plans. Hoping for those plans. Dreaming for those plans.  

But I also know that releasing my hold on those plans, right now, opening my heart freely and without reservation to God’s plan for my life, there is hope.  There is excitement. There is joy. Because all of those plans that I spent years dreaming up, those plans are NOTHING compared to what the reality of God’s plan is for my life.

Be Gone, Evil Thing!!

Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a practicing Catholic.  I was raised in a small town, with a large Catholic population. And I have been to a couple of Catholic weddings in my life.  That is the extent of my relationship to the Catholic Church.

Banish: to compel to depart; send, drive, or put away.

Have you ever stopped, and realized that God has been working in your life, and answering your prayers, and you didn’t even realize it?

That happened to me.  This morning.

There are a lot of different pieces involved in this realization happening.  So I am going to attempt to be concise with the summary.  Yes, I said attempt.

I have always struggled with my weight.  I grew up the fat kid. And I was miserable.  And then I ended up the obese woman (weighing in at nearly 300 pounds).  And was even more miserable. And over the years, I ran the gamut of every single eating disorder possible.  

Every.  Single. One.

And (yikes) 13 years ago, I decided to do something about it.  I joined Weight Watchers, and lost a bunch of weight. And then I started running.  And then I turned into a marathon runner. All good things.

But over the years, no matter what, I have been obsessed with my weight.  I will say that when I was training for marathons, the number mattered a little less, because you know what, I could run 26.2 miles.  

But the number still mattered.

And a little over a year ago, I was uncomfortable.  I had been through a tough year, and I had gained weight.  Granted, I hadn’t crested 200 pounds, but I was getting close.  So I once again joined Weight Watchers, and I lost some weight.

I’m not getting paid to say this.  I think Weight Watchers is amazing.  Going to the meetings, which do, in fact, feel like an AA meeting, only for food, are wonderful.  The community is so supportive. It’s fantastic. Even though I’m not currently a member, I still think it’s amazing.  

Anyway…moving on.

A few months ago, I got sick.  In the grand scheme of things, what ended up being the cause of my illness isn’t horrific.  There are many, many, MANY things worse than what I went through. What I’m still recovering from.  The point is, I was sick. And I felt like a zombie ALL THE TIME.  And what happens when you’re sick, and you feel like a zombie? You often lose weight.

I lost weight.  

I wasn’t sad about it.  Because, I’m obsessed with the number on the scale.  

A month ago, I finally got a diagnosis.  And I got medicine. And a couple of weeks ago, I woke up one morning, and I DIDN’T feel like a zombie.  

One, unfortunate, side effect of the medicine is it can affect your stomach, mildly.  But honestly, I don’t care.

EXCEPT…it made the number on the scale go up.

For several days, I struggled.  Because there is a balance. I feel like a normal human being, but the number on the scale is going up.  And, being my own worst critic, I felt my self-worth being lowered, and lowered, and lowered. Because of the number on the scale.

So, I banished my scale.

Me.  The girl who has weighed herself every morning for years.  

I banished my scale.

Because, at the same time, other things were going on in my life.  

I made the conscious decision to make a greater effort to actually spend dedicated time reading my Bible.  And at the same time, I have been praying for God’s guidance on what I should do with my life. And let’s be real honest, I prayed for God to help me get my eating under control.  

You know, one of those prayers where I focus more on what I want than what God really wants me to do.

Guilty.  As. Charged.

One of the other things that I have consciously been praying for on Sunday morning’s before I go to church, is that God helps me hear the message He wants me to hear that day.  And since I started praying for that on Sunday morning’s my listening skills have improved during the sermon at church.

I’m going to say that 99.99% of the time, that the message I take away from the sermon isn’t what the pastor intends for the purpose of that sermon to be.

But it is ALWAYS the message that I need to hear.

That happened yesterday.

The sermon series that we are currently in is focusing on 1 Timothy.  Yesterday specifically talked about the end of Chapter 3, and Chapter 4.  One verse stood out to me. It also helped that the pastor made a joke about this particular verse.

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

Train yourself to be godly.

Physical training is of some value.

Godliness has value for all things.

Ok, so the joke the pastor made yesterday was about how since it’s RIGHT THERE IN THE BIBLE, that physical training isn’t everything…go ahead and eat the donut.

Except, I personally think donuts are disgusting.  And if (when) I fall to the sin of gluttony, it’s not going to be a donut.  Mexican food. Brownies. Yes. Donuts, no.

Oh, I forgot to mention…even though I banished my scale, I did weigh myself yesterday morning.  I nearly cried when I saw the number. But I weighed myself.

I haven’t even gained all of the weight back that I lost being sick.  And I almost cried. Because I gained weight.

Because I tied my self worth to a number on the scale.

So during the sermon yesterday, seeing the words Paul wrote in 1 Timothy about the qualities of what a leader should have, I made a decision.

The fact that we are currently less than a week into Lent is purely coincidental.  But having several Catholics in my circle of people, it has been a topic of discussion lately.  In addition, my BFF, also a non-Catholic, has decided over the past few years, to participate in giving something up for Lent, more as a test of her willpower.

So that got me thinking.  Which, obviously, can be dangerous at times.

I have never participated in Lent, or giving something up during Lent.  

And my own personal religion focuses more on your relationship with God rather than rituals just for the sake of rituals.

But I understand the concept of Lent, and believe that when done appropriately, it’s a cool thing.

So, the concept here is that you give something up to replicate the suffering that Jesus went through for 40 days in the desert.  

But what if we looked at it this way…

Giving something up for God.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m semi-permanently banishing my scale.  I’m going to focus more on my relationship with God than I do my relationship with my scale.  Because God is the one that provides me with the self-worth and self-confidence. A number on the scale, that’s not telling you (or me) all of the wonderful things that God has gifted me with.

I spent some time yesterday trying to lay out the “rules” during this scale banishment.  Do I just focus on eating healthy food and exercising? Do I still count calories? Do I just forget about weighing myself, and let the chips fall where they may?

Well, knowing myself like I do, I knew a few guidelines still needed to apply.  Because if I go out there unrestricted, I’m going to forget about any of the physical training.  It’s going to be chips and salsa all day. Only to be interrupted by brownies and cookies.

That isn’t going to accomplish the goal.

Over the past 24 hours, I have refined some of the guidelines that I am going into this with.  I am still going to allow myself to track calories. But only as a way to keep myself in check so I don’t go all full gluttony.  But I’m also not going to beat myself up for indulging in some Mexican food.  But I’m not going to weigh myself. I’m sure over the next few weeks, some of those guidelines may (will) change. But I’m flexible like that.  And right now, I’m thinking if I can hold off until Easter (I mean, it is that time of year), I will allow myself to weigh in again. But my hope is that by then, I won’t care enough to do it.

A very sad thought went through my brain yesterday on my way to church.  I was horrified at the thought of what would happen if someone invited me to go to lunch after church?  And of course, that was going to blow my getting back on track. And then I was going to get down on myself because I blew my calorie budget for the day.  Do you have any idea how far I would have to walk to work off all of that food? And I’m NEVER going to lose weight if that happens!!

Did you just read that?  How depressing is that? I was putting myself down, over going out to eat.  After church. With friends.

So I made a command decision to knock that off.  

Yes, I want to put healthy things in my body.  But I NEED to do healthy things for my soul.

You know how sometimes God just puts words in front of you sometimes, and you read through it.  And then you read it again. And it just hits you so deep in your soul that you know the only way those particular words could have been put in front of you at that exact moment was God.  It’s a God thing.  That happened this morning. Do you know Lysa TerKeurst? Have you read the things she writes? I haven’t met her. But her honesty, and willingness to share about her own messy life, and remaining one of God’s girls just hits my soul on a regular basis.  This morning, I read a prayer she wrote.

“Dear Lord, help me to see myself the way You see me.  Remove the lies that defeat me more often than I want to acknowledge.  You have set me free. Help me live like I truly believe that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Lysa, thank you for writing the thing that I needed to read today.  

Because God created me.  God created me exactly how I am.  And God loves me. For exactly who I am.  

Not one person, not one single person, doesn’t need to hear that.  Understand it.

God.  Loves.  Me.

And that’s the most important thing.