After a short ten hour drive to the Alabama coast, I was so excited to drop the luggage and head straight for the sand. Settling into the room, I first put away all of our grocery items in the fridge and then headed to the master bathroom. There I opened a cabinet to find a scale. We were missing a few of the basic essentials of a household such as dish soap, a spatula for cooking, and a decent broom to sweep up sand. But praise God. . .we had a scale!
I couldn’t quite understand the logic. So I assumed people were needing to gage whether or not to go out for a swim each day. “Hey, if I hit the right number, I can be seen in public!”
What is that right number? Oh well. I haven’t been what others deemed my ideal weight since the second grade. In my mind, I’ve earned the right to play in the sand like every other nincompoop out there.
So, after successfully putting on the one piece suit, which is a workout all in itself, we were finally there. The Lamgo’s had arrived! It was a slow motion scene as the seven of us entered the outside pool area. The weekend after record rainfall. . .the sunbathers had already learned what he had not. The pool was as cold as ice. My eyebrows curled as I noticed cell phones in everyone’s hands ready to capture the Texas Polar bear club.
“AAAHHHH!!!! EEEEKKKKK!!!!! What The!!!!!” All screams as each walked down the steps. “Oh, come on you guys. . .you just have to. . .” I went under. All the way under. But unlike the others. . .not a scream, not even a sound. I gasped when my head hit the air. But couldn’t take in any. The shock from the cold just left me…Uh..Uh…Uh!!!! The smiles and laughter from the deck of the pool began to register. Yep, I was gonna end up on YouTube.
We made friends with those people that week, as we all tend to visit the resort the same time every year. And this year, my kids got to see the real world. Real men and women. My size was closer to the average at the beach. Yes, a few token teenagers who strutted their stuff eventually felt hungry and left. But we had moms and dads with bellies and bulges that made my kids realize that the little illusion that is emphasized today on a perfect body was actually a crock.
Why is it that the thin and physically fit are the ideal and opposed to cleanliness is next to Godliness. . .the new saying is “thinness is next to Godliness. Why do we constantly follow the new fads, diets, exercise video’s and throw away our hard earned income and time for God to be accepted by the. . .acceptable?
Perhaps the issue is not physical at all, but spiritual. Perhaps those obsessed with what they put in their mouths and work out above all else are simply no different from me. The anorexic, the obese, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the exercise addict. . .
What do we have in common?
The empty in our hearts that requires filling. Am I right here? No? Getting angry at me? Bingo! The desire to take good care of the body, “the temple of the Holy Spirit” is a God given one and a justifiable reason to work out and eat right. But what happens when it becomes a constant thought, takes over your life and consumes your every thought.
Is thin everything?
What if the Lord prevented that dream?
This is where I now sit. After years of dieting, I was taken to the lowest point in my need to be accepted by others by not only having the ideal body I had in mind, but also simply participating in obsessive dieting and exercise. I had already dropped 70 lbs over a five year period, but needed to lose more. I began to diet in an unhealthy way. Refusing to eat and take care of my diabetes just to obtain thinness. In the end. . .I fell apart. My fear of what mere man thinks of me took over my desire for God. It took over my ability to live simple joy. I would take away time from God and my family to work on getting that weight off!
Why did I need this so much? The question that poured over and over again in my head. . .
“Why can’t God be enough?”
Why did I need to be thin? I was exercising, eating healthy, watching my sugar and calories. Where was my reward God? I replaced eating with reading the Bible. My desire was to know God more and be the child he created me to be. Where was my reward God? I held up my end of the bargain. . .so Where was my reward God?
God was suppose to take away the weight now that I was turning to you instead of food! So, where was my reward of weight loss? Where was My this and my that? The idolatry of self had reared it’s ugly head and I found myself swept away as quickly as a single ocean wave. My focus on and love of God had turned into a love of self. I somehow felt as though God owed ME something.
I simply wanted self more than I wanted God. I wanted to be noticed, praised, beautiful.
And there we had it. The short window where knowing God was enough had closed tightly and I was stuck in between wanting food and wanting God. Somewhere in the middle there, I wanted my reward from man. Perhaps God was pleased. Perhaps he had the victory when I enjoyed being with him over all else. It was short-lived when I began to hear praise from others.
“You’re looking awesome!” “Boy you’re really losing weight!” “We are so proud of you!”
Innocent and loving words. Sweet to hear and perhaps the need to hear them was because I wasn’t use to hearing them before. Growing up big- you don’t hear those phrases. For the first time in my life, I felt I was worth something. I felt approval from others.
I had lost the fact that the only approval I need is from God. And what’s sweet sounding to the heart. . .is that God has already approved me. He died for me and forgave me for all my years of filling my stomach instead of filling my soul. And that is enough.
My weight loss is on God’s time table. It could be that He is working on my love and desire for him. It has been a wonderful way to show my children that the health of the heart, your soul, is more important that your fitness level or bathing suit size.
Our approval in life comes from God, and to base any opinion of others on your importance in this world is false and often fatal.
Listen to me. Quiet your thoughts and heart. ANYTHING can take the place of God in your heart. It can be a good thing like exercise, your love of your children, spouse, job, food, etc.
I need God! My heart, the empty, the joyful, the obsessive…needs to be hinged on God’s love for me. Until I wrap my head around that, I will never be satisfied.
“I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
Jeremiah 24: 7