I was trying on a jacket the other day. It used to be too big. I found it at the back of my closet and thought, "Oh hurrah! Something different to wear!" As soon as I got it on I realized there was a reason it had been relegated to the inner most depths of my closet. I could barely move.
Chris Farley's voice was resonating through my head, singing "Fat guy in a little coat...".
Great. I couldn't wear it for fear that it would tear if I barely shrugged my shoulders. But I couldn't get it off either! Finally my husband came to my rescue and tugged on the wrist until one arm came off, almost dislocating my shoulder in the process. To his credit, he didn't even smirk. My husband is the always fit, always eating healthy kind of guy. I'm more the, "yes I'll have the cheesecake and lick my plate when I'm done" kind of girl. That worked when I actually exercised regularly. Not lately, as in the past 2 years. OK, that's stretching it. Other than a summer 2 years ago it's been a decade since I got regular exercise! And it shows. Or rather it bulges. Yuck.
I envy the people who have disciplined themselves to go exercise daily and always make good food choices. I never had huge weight issues growing up but as I've gotten older, I've found myself less motivated to exercise and more interested in that bowl of ice cream after dinner. Every night. I mean, let's face it ladies. If you're married, most of us figure, we got the guy. He loves us for who we are, right? So why should we have to kill ourselves to stay slim now?! Why indeed. I know I should want him to look at me and see beauty but it's so easy to get complacent.
In 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul says, "No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (NIV) Ouch! How many times have I given someone advice (unsolicited) on how they shouldn't be eating this, that, or the other; Right before I down a diet soda and something sugary from the vending machine. OK, Paul, weren't you being a bit tough on yourself here? Beat your body to make it your slave? That isn't exactly how I want to get into shape. But Paul was writing a letter to young Christians trying to survive in a corrupt part of the world, surrounded by sin. Hmm. Sounds uncomfortably familiar.
In the New Living Translation, I Corinthians 9:26-27 says, "So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadow boxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." Yikes. Makes me want to keep my mouth shut!
I know Paul wasn't necessarily talking about staying in shape. But a few chapters earlier he said, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." Paul is not talking about overeating here but still. It gives me pause to wonder, if there had been McDonald's in Paul's time, what would he have thought of our "super sized" food culture? There are several bible verses that refer to gluttons as equal to drunkards and a friend to sinners.
So I'm in a quandary. I am totally lazy at heart. I love nothing better than to sit quietly with a cup of tea or coffee and read a good book for hours. I love naps and do not get my kicks from finishing the house cleaning. Yet I want to be disciplined. I don't want to be ruled by my flesh, but by my spirit instead. And I want to fit into that jacket again! ;) So how can I turn away my favorite foods? How can I make myself go exercise? Will my husband ever look at me like he did when I was several sizes smaller and could do a push up?
I think my answer is, that I can't. I am not powerful enough to discipline my own flesh. I need help. Jesus said if we have faith as small as a mustard seed we can move a mountain, that nothing will be impossible for us (Matt 17:20 paraphrased). Faith in what? Our own abilities? Our personal trainer? No. In God. The disciples had tried to heal a boy possessed by a demon and could not. When they asked Jesus why, he said they didn't have enough faith. They had tried to do it themselves, not having faith that God would do it if they asked Him.
Exercise, eating right, and losing a few pounds may seem like a petty thing to ask God for His help with. But I'm pretty sure He isn't proud that his creation loses her breath as I run up a flight of stairs to get something. There are so many suffering, in our nation in particular, because of their weight. I once heard someone say that if there is one area of your life that you are struggling to discipline, it affects all the other areas as well. Don't I know this. I look at it this way. Some days I struggle to have faith that God can help with the big things. They seem too big and overwhelm me. But getting out and getting some exercise or saying no to dessert, it isn't so big. And if I can find a grain of faith that God can help me with it if I ask, then I have a seed of hope.