(picture from rcaeagles.org)
When I started this Lenten fast, I knew it would tap into my weight issues. How could it not? Weight has been the main thorn in my side my entire life. Not just weight itself, but all of the issues surrounding it. I’ve been on just about every diet there is, had great success losing weight a few times and was even successful at keeping it off for a couple of years. But I’ve never had “success” in this area over the long haul. I didn’t want to be fat when I turned 50, but 50 came and went, and now I’m 52, rounding the bend toward 53 (in August) and I so want to deal with this issue once and for all…which means making different choices every day of my life until I take my final breath. I do know there is no quick fix, though how I wish there was.
2013 started with 90 pounds to lose. Over the course of the year, with many ups and downs, I lost 35 and then gained 15 of it back in a six-week holiday binge-a-thon from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. 2014 started with 70 pounds to lose, and with me crying out to God for mercy and for help. I started seeing a therapist who specializes in disordered eating and was beginning to make some headway, but the major breakthrough came at the beginning of February during one of the group therapy times in my counseling program. That’s a story for another day; suffice it to say, I have been given the gift of a new lens to look through as I continue my journey with food and weight.
This Lenten fast is showing me that I can change my eating, and radically so, if I have a sharp focus. I worked with a life coach (Randy Chase, who is fantastic!) for awhile and he told me that I need to focus every day on the larger goal…what do I REALLY want? So when I’m faced with a chocolate cake that seems irresistible, I need to take a breath and remind myself that what I REALLY want is to be healthy, active, thriving, full of life and energy, and to take good care of this one temple God has given me to house my soul. This doesn’t mean I can’t have a bite of cake, or even a small piece, but I always need to keep the larger goal in mind. I’ve not done very well with that, but…always we begin again!
In light of this, it is both odd and interesting that the larger goal during Lent has NOTHING to do with my weight. It is all about drawing closer to the Lord and joining in solidarity with the majority of the people on this planet who live in poverty. Right?
Well…that’s what it’s *supposed* to be.
True confession — Every morning I look in the mirror and notice that I’m shrinking, and I’m happy about it. I tried on some jeans that haven’t fit in awhile and they zipped and buttoned (but are still too tight to wear). As I stepped into the shower this morning, I said out loud to no one (Ha! As if God isn’t listening!) “I’m dying to know how much weight I’ve lost.”
See, the first day of Lent I was out for a walk talking to God about the plan and asking Him to have His way in me (my favorite short prayer for myself and others). I casually mentioned that I imagined a by-product of this journey would be some weight loss and immediately I felt that quickening in my spirit that can only be the voice of God — “Nina, you’re not going to weigh yourself during Lent.”
Of course! That made total sense. He knows (and so do I) how easy it is for me to slip into a “diet mentality.” So I took the scale out of the bathroom and slid it under our bedroom dresser, not to be touched again until after Easter, or beyond. And I had a bit of self-satisfaction that should have tipped me off to how the issue was not going to stay hidden along with the scale.
“Dying to know…”? Really? Hmm. I’m not dying. Not literally. But I hope there are parts of me that are dying…God’s in the business of death and resurrection. And there is plenty of dross in me that needs to be burned off (aka “die”).
“Dying to know….” That phrase has been swirling around in my brain all day, and here’s where I’ve landed:
Two meanings — The first is that I need to die to knowing. We don’t seem to talk much anymore about “dying” to things. Maybe it smacks of “Christianese.” But in my younger days, especially when I was with YWAM (Youth with a Mission), we talked a lot about things we needed to “die to.” Maybe a better word is “surrender.” However I phrase it, I know this is true — I don’t need to know how much weight I’m losing on this journey. I don’t need to know a whole lot of things. Being one of those “figurer outers” I mentioned in the last post, I am always wanting to “know” and understand and figure things out. God continually brings me back to a place of surrender. Yeah, I’m great with reading books and doing research to get more information, and often that can be helpful. But there are so many complexities and paradoxes in life, especially in the journey of faith. And the Lord showed me today that He’s had me on a journey for quite awhile of “dying to knowing.” I just didn’t realize it.
Second meaning — I need to die in order to know. I need to die to myself to know God more. I need to die to myself to know others more. I need to surrender my longings and agenda and ideas of what I think “should” be and accept what is so I can know peace in the midst of any circumstance. (This does not mean I KILL my longings and desires, but hold them before the Lord with hope of what *could be* even as I surrender to what *is*).
A counselor I saw for a few sessions last year said this nugget which turned out to be all I needed at the time, and it has stayed with me since — “Nina, you need to make the Serenity Prayer your best friend.” When she said it, I knew it was straight from the mouth of God.
Most of us can rattle off this popular prayer. But the original has so much more to it:
- God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
I need to die in order to know peace. I need to die in order to know how to love unselfishly. I need to die in order to know God more intimately.
That’s part of what this Lent is all about.