Today I did a legitimate work-out for the first time in a while. (Have you heard of bleacher miles? Running around a track, you jog up and down the steps of the bleachers three times every lap. We only did 2 miles, or 8 laps.)
I am out of running shape; it was hard! After running, we went to the strength-training room, and I haven’t been there in about a year. Let me tell you, I will likely be sore for the next week!
All of this was part of “Fitness Club” – an invention by my school’s soccer coach as a way for the soccer players (mens and womens) to stay fit in between seasons. (In fact, I was the only non-soccer player!)
I came on this day because I really wanted to get moving but that morning’s swim practice was cancelled. The pool was closed and somehow our team didn’t get the memo. We spent more than an hour driving around in the dark—this was before I got on the school bus for 50 minutes. Talk about greenhouse gases.
Anyway, some of the girls commiserated with each other about skipping workouts over Christmas break. I intentionally took those two weeks to rest, and I haven’t regretted it. One girl in particular (my friend) called herself “fat” because she gained 3 pounds since Christmas Eve, and sometimes she doesn’t enjoy holidays because it gives the chance to eat from boredom or skip exercise—the lack of structure. That struck me because I had never heard anyone say that before – except myself. I used to be afraid of holidays and even long weekends because of that same reason. You know: no one to make me eat lunch at 12:30 or run at 3:30. But I haven’t felt like that this school year!
How ironic is this: to constantly doubt your value yet be wholly obsessed with yourself? It’s a vicious cycle that I have personally experienced.What changed? I like to look at it as a result of relationships with people (and God) becoming a priority over my own self-centeredness.
These torturous cycles, like the one described in the book TrueFaced: this is what I have slowly been breaking free from. By God’s grace, I am in a really good place. One year ago, I would be looking at my body at this point and vowing to stay away from sugar and run 6 days/week. But it’s just not all-important anymore. People do not notice when I lose or gain weight. My friends do not lose respect for me when I can’t make qualifying times or if I get sick sometimes. God does not love me any less when I fail to be passionate about Him. And that brings so much freedom.
I can do better things with my time than improving myself—for all my talk and ideas about helping others, I sure spend a lot of time focused on me!
Skip the vocabulary words “bad” and “failure” when talking about skipping workouts or gaining some weight. You aren’t sinning! You are not unacceptable!
I understand that many people can’t relate to a struggle with self-worth or problems with eating habits, but everyone has problems. These problems can dominate your life or you can seek help (through reading, praying, discussion), truth, and freedom. There is no sin that is too terrible to be forgiven. When Jesus gave himself up to die, he took our sin upon himself, enabling us to be redeemed, justified, forgiven. This is the Gospel:
Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the Law of Moses could never do. Acts 13:38-39 (NLT)
This verse, a record of Paul’s instruction to Israelites (“children of Abraham”) and Gentiles—basically everyone—plainly states a behest towards Christians: to share the message of forgiveness. Following the “Law”—earning and striving for our own righteousness and salvation—will never work because we are imperfect humans. But if we humbly confess this to God and believe that “through this man Jesus there is forgiveness,” we can be saved.
Thanks for reading. To all a good night.