Exactly one year ago, on Mother’s Day, I remember standing in front of the mirror trying to determine whether I should resign myself to being out of shape. I wondered, have I reached an age and stage of life where losing weight and getting fit are impossible?
The extra 25 pounds that had crept onto my body could easily be justified. After all, I’ve birthed three children. I even seemed to gain weight with the two we adopted. I’m very busy with them. This is my season of raising kids, not lifting weights. I’m too busy running carpools to run for exercise. And, I deserve every one of those little treats I snack on!
The justifications rolled off my tongue and got a quick “Amen!” from many friends, but in the quiet of my heart, I wasn’t settled. The reality was I didn’t feel good physically or emotionally. I cringed at the thought of having to undress in front of my husband. Not because he would judge me, but rather I’d be judging myself. Nothing can kill a romantic mood quicker than a woman’s negative thoughts about herself.
Half of the clothes I owned no longer fit. I would catch myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror in tears many mornings lamenting over which pants could best hide my bulge. I cried out to God and admitted it was crazy to get emotional about my pants for heaven’s sake. I wanted to rise above this vain issue and be comfortable with who I was no matter what size. The tide of justifications would roll back in, only this time with a spiritual twist — The world has sold us women a bill of goods that to be good we have to be skinny ? I am too concerned with my spiritual growth to be distracted by petty issues such as weight and exercise?God loves me just the way I am.
While the spiritual justifications also sounded good, in my heart, I still wasn’t settled. I knew my weight issue didn’t have anything to do with me being worldly. If I was honest with myself my issue was plain and simple ? a lack of self-control. I could sugar coat it and justify it all day long but the truth was I didn’t have a weight problem, I had a spiritual problem. I depended on food for comfort more than I depended on God. And I was simply too lazy to make time to exercise. Ouch. That truth hurt.
So, the day after Mother’s Day last year, I got up first thing in the morning and went running. Well, the word running should be used very loosely for what actually occurred. I got out and moved my body quicker than I had in a long time. And you know what? I hated it. It made me hot and sticky. It made my legs hurt and my lungs burn. Nothing about it was fun until after I finished. But the feeling of accomplishment that morning was fantastic! When I got home, I got on-line and signed up for Weight Watchers. I didn’t have time to go to meetings so I let the meetings come to me on my computer. Slowly, I started to see little evidences of progress. The key word here is SLOWLY. Every day I asked God to give me the strength to stick with it this time. I’d tried so many other times and failed after only a few weeks. The more I made it about spiritual growth and discipline, the less I focused on the weight. Each lost pound was not a quest to get skinny but rather evidence of being obedient to God.
One day, I went out for my version of a run and God clearly spoke to my heart. I would often spend my exercise time talking with and praying to God, but today there was a clear command from God rumbling in my heart, “Run until you can’t take another step. Don’t do it in your strength but in Mine. Every time you want to stop, pray for that friend who you just challenged not to give up and take your own advice ? don’t stop until I tell you to.” There have been many other times when God has given me clear directives to do things but never one that would be this physically demanding. I had a record up to that point of running three miles which I thought was quite stellar. For me, three miles seemed like a marathon. So, maybe God wanted me to run just slightly past the three-mile marker and rejoice in relying on His strength to do so. But as I reached that point in my run, my heart betrayed my aching body and said, “Keep going.” Each step thereafter, I had to pray and rely on God. The more I focused on running toward God, the less I thought about my desire to stop. The verse Psalm 73:26 came to life, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
As I ran that day, I connected with God on a different level. I experienced what it meant to absolutely require God’s faith to see something through. How many times have I claimed to be a woman of faith but rarely live a life actually requiring faith? That day, God didn’t have me stop until I ran 8.6 miles. Since I’d been quoting a verse from Psalms, as soon as I got home, I grabbed my Bible and opened up to see what Psalm 86 said. “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk (or run) in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; and I will glorify your name forever” (Psalm 86: 11-12).
An undivided heart. That’s what this whole journey was to be about. It wasn’t to be about the weight or the exercise but about discovering that with God all things ? ALL things ? are possible to those who have an undivided heart.
So, this mother’s day you won’t find me lamenting in front of the mirror. You’ll find me out for a morning jog. You’ll find me eating a sensible breakfast. You’ll find I am 25 pounds lighter. While that’s a wonderful benefit, you’ll find what really makes me feel settled is that undivided heart thing ? knowing with God I’m able to say unreservedly, “I can!”
By Lysa TerKeurst. Used by permission. Read more from Lysa at Proverbs 31 Ministries