Thursday, March 12, 2009
A Broken Scale and a Revelation Part 2
It's been a while since I've written about this...I've wanted to update this journey of mine for a while. This felt like the right time.
I wrote "A Broken Scale and a Revelation" in 2007. I still have not stepped on a scale, two years later! I'm tempted sometimes when I'm at the gym and no one I know is looking, but I remember what weighing used to do to me. And I'm not going back. Never!
So much freedom and victory has slowly grown into my life. If I, for a minute, were to think and walk in the flesh, and not in the Spirit, I could slip back into old ways of thinking...allowing my mind to be a battlefield, where I constantly fought, and always felt defeated. But I know what it means to re-train our minds, to "no longer conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds." (Hebrews 12:2) There is freedom in Christ! Aren't you glad?!
I have received some very edifying e-mails lately on this topic, and I wanted to share them with you. First, I know I'm not alone in this struggle with body image. You know who you are. You know the things you say about you, whether outloud or in your head. You know how it monopolizes your thinking, and makes you a little less than rational. You know how it makes you think constantly about you, and keeps you from thinking about God and others. That kind of kills the first and second commandment. Not a good thing.
Here are some startling statistics from our church's resident superwoman and fitness instructor, Rachel. (She has started a fitness class for us ladies at the church, and is encouraging women in right thinking, holiness, incorporating scripture memory and prayer, and just plain kicking my tail twice a week. I love that girl.)
* 54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat (YES, you read that right)
* 81% of TEN year old girls say their greatest fear is being fat
* Almost all mannequins that we see in stores today are too thin to bear CHILDREN
* EVERY single magazine that you pick up at the store and read the person on the cover has been airbrushed for that shot...EVERY single one.
* 67% of women age 15-64 have AVOIDED social settings at least once this MONTH because of how they feel about their body
* Over 10 million females suffer from some form of an eating disorder currently....that is more women than who currently have breast cancer
* EVERYDAY 80% of women express verbally to others a comment about changing their outward appearance/body. (that is only the verbal comments not the negative self thoughts).
That's a load of negative thinking, and it's a full-time job to think that stuff in your head, 24/7. Exhausting.
Let's just admit it. We are deceived, ladies. We are following the father of lies when we allow ourselves to think this way. Where is the victory? Where is the freedom? How small have we made the God of the universe in our life? How is God getting the glory?
Whether we are thin, too thin, or overweight, this all comes down to what is going on in our hearts. I had to admit two years ago, it was downright yucky. I was exercising regularly, and I wanted to think that my motives were for good health, but that was a lie and I knew it. My motives were 100% weight control. My contentment rested on a number on the scale and a clothes size. Honestly, when those things weren't satisfactory to me, I was ruined. I was grumpy. I was totally disghusted with myself.
I was deceived, and I was allowing the enemy a foothold in my life, and in my daughter's future.
I had to get honest about my motives. They were wrong.
My exercise was not wrong, but my motives were gross, and that's what matters to God.
So should I stop exercising because it tempts me to sin?
No! That's what we call throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (English expressions are so bizarre. I swear, the rest of the world must think we're crazy.)
No, my exercise needed to be for the right reasons.
Being a good steward of our body, called the temple of the Holy Spirit in scripture, can bring Him glory.
THAT needed to be my heart.
So if I couldn't go to the gym because my kids were sick for a week, or we had too much school work, I needed to not throw a little tantrum, saying "Fine! I'll just be fat!"
(Did I just admit that on the internet? So fun.)
Something that helped me, beside just plain, old accountability, and re-training my mind through prayer and scripture, which I'll talk about below, was setting fitness goals instead of weight goals.
Training for races has been perfect for me! I started with a 5K, then worked my way up to where I am today. When I'm training, I don't even think about weight. I know I'm giving my all and pushing myself. I've learned so much about endurance! God has spoken to me clearly during my runs. I talked a lot on this blog last year as I trained for my half marathon, and it was definitely a spiritual experience for me!
Need a race to train for! Ha! I've got one for you...
www.runforcompassion.com 5K/10K Yes!
Back to motives...
Here is a little motive checklist I got from my friend Ashley, who got this from the book "Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood". (I haven't read it yet, but I may ask for this for Mother's Day! It sounds amazing!)
1. Do I spend more time each day caring for my personal appearance than I do in Bible study, prayer & worship?
2. Do I spend excessive money on clothes, hair, and makeup, or is it an amount that is God-honoring?
3. Do I want to lose weight to "feel better about myself" or do I desire to be self-disciplined for the glory of God?
4. Am I on a quest for thinness to impress others, or do I seek to cultivate eating habits that honor God?
5. Do I exercise to try to create or maintain a good figure, or do I exercise to strengthen my body for God's service?
6. Is there anything about my appearance that I wish I could change, or am I grateful to God for the way He created me?
7. Am I jealous of the appearance of the other girls, or am I truly glad when I observe girls who are more physically attractive than I?
8. Do I covet the wardrobe of others, or do I genuinely rejoice when other girls are able to afford and purchase new clothing?
9. When I attend an activity, do I sinfully compare myself with others, or do I ask God to show me whom to love and how to do it?
10. Do I ever dress immodestly to with the intent of drawing attention to myself, or do I always dress in a manner that pleases God?
Pleasing God and honoring God with my body had to become more important to me than anything else. These sinful thoughts had to go.
I was created by Him and for Him alone. I have no rights to my own glory or selfish desires. Who did I think I was complaining to Him constantly about his handiwork?
Whose glory was I seeking?
I had to start taking off the wrong thinking, and replacing it with right thinking.
I had to meditate on scripture constantly. I mean CONSTANTLY! Here are just a few of them.
HOW SHOULD I MEASURE MY WORTH?
3 As God's messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.
6 For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.
WHAT SHOULD I BE THINKING ABOUT?
2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
WHAT IS BEAUTY, ACCORDING TO THE WORD?
1 Peter 3:3-5
3 Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful.
What is a gentle and quiet spirit?
The best definition I've heard also came from the book Ashley shared with me, by Carolyn Mahaney, and she says this: Carolyn says, "A gental & quiet spirit, simply put, is a steadfast peace because of a steadfast trust in God. A girl who possesses a gentle & quiet spirit humbly responds to whatever God chooses for her life, regardless of the cost."
I have meditated on that so much since she sent that to me. I definitely need this book!
This has been difficult to write...to sum up...to make sense of so much. But more than anything, I want us to know that our hearts and motives are what God sees and desires, our contentment in Him is mandatory, and our deception is thick and a travesty. If you belong to Him, you are His, His masterpiece, His vessel for His glory, and we ought to emanate the beauty of the Gospel with all we have! I want that to always be my heart cry. And yours.