I'm not sure where to start this. I have a lot of thoughts that are connected, but in that down-the-rabbit-hole kind of way. Wanna come along? Then hold on tight and don't drink any suspicious potions along the way.
I run. That's something I never thought I'd say. But here I am, two and a half weeks from my second half marathon. You may think I am some uber healthy person who has it together with her health and fitness. You might think that if you know me or if you don't. I sure do try hard. I share healthy recipes and tips on Facebook. I try to encourage others on their health and fitness journeys. I like to think about it and discuss it.
But today was a bad day for all that. I skipped both breakfast and dinner. I have drank about two sips of water all day (iced tea doesn't count?!?!). I ate almost a whole bag of off-brand sour candy on my way home from a direct sales party tonight. I realized just how poorly I've eaten and drank as I started my 4-mile training run (at 10pm), so I ate half a bag of beef jerky as I walked the first mile of my “run”. The side stitch was intense and sharp. I haven't felt 100%, mostly run down from too much on my plate while feeling unproductive and unsuccessful as well as too much “people-ing” over the last couple weeks. I couldn't get a full breath while lying in bed last night, let alone while I was walking tonight. I walked, I ran, I walked, I ran, I walked, jogged, ran slow, ran faster, finished. 4 miles should be a piece of cake, but it was not tonight.
But you know what? One bad workout doesn't make my training a failure. More importantly, it doesn't make ME a failure.
Starting when I trained for my first short-distance triathlon in 2015, I have leaned on Psalm 121 when I felt weak.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”
It's written and taped up on my desk, underlined in my Bible, even engraved on my Road ID bracelet.
It's inspired me when I felt I couldn't run anymore, when I was afraid of drowning (literally), and when I wanted to quit.
It's been a comfort to me through heavy grief and desperate worry.
But do you see what it hasn't been? It hasn't been my daily prayer. I haven't looked to the Lord to be my help doing laundry or working or nurturing every day relationships. I so easily fall into the trap of looking to myself to get it all done and manage the day-to-day. While I would never say it, and while I find myself convicted when I discover I've done it, what I do is avoid “bothering God” with my day-to-day. I thank him for my health and family and home, but never truly surrender those things to him. I don't wake and consecrate the day and its events to him. I “rise and grind”, as the expression goes, though it often feels more like “drag and trudge”.
I've been doing a lot of trying hard and not so much surrendering or consecrating.
I have both felt guilt and been made to feel guilty for my health and exercise habits. I have prayed and worked through my motivations for health and fitness and have found that for me, all the standard reasons for health and fitness: to add years to my life, to be there for my kids longer, to be able to run around and keep up with my kids, to live longer with my spouse, etc., feel hollow to me. I also don't do it for me. Heaven knows if I was doing something for me it would be eating donuts! No, health and fitness are redeemed for me. They are acts of stewardship of the body God has given me. They are as much expressions of worship as singing at church. Well, on good days. On the consecrating days and the not-trying-so-desperately days.
I have been seeing a quote by Ann Voskamp that says something like, ‘The world has enough women that know how to do their hair. The world needs women that can do hard and holy things.’ And that quote is oh-so-true. But some days, doing my hair is the holy thing. Some days, just throwing off the weight that says I am not good, I am not enough, I am too much, I am nothing is the holy thing. And my act of obedience in the faith that I am fearfully and wonderfully made is fixing my hair. Once I have acted in acceptance of that gift, of the not-so-hard-but-holy, I can move onto the world-changing, hard-and-holy obediences. Am I saying that you can't obey God in one way while faking it on your stewardship of your body? Or that the only way to steward our bodies well is to look nice? Nope. I've never seen a picture of Mother Teresa with her hair and makeup done. And I don't recall the passage of scripture where Jesus was busy man-scaping. But I am saying that *I* am more likely to do better trusting and obeying in other things if I start with this one. And, boy, has this one been a long time coming. Maybe you feel that, too. I hope I'm not alone.
All this to wind back and say that you can start anywhere. If you want to honor God with your body by exercising and eating healthy, you can do it by starting now. Just as God doesn't ask you to get your life together before you accept his gift of salvation, he also doesn't expect your first act of obedience in this area to be running a marathon or winning a cross fit competition. He expects you to be faithful in doing what you can. Same goes if you feel convicted to honor God with the condition of your home, your diligence at work, your kindness or generosity with others, with the way you treat your spouse, or how present you are with your children. Like the parable of the talents, be faithful with little and you'll be trusted with more. Start where you are with what you have and build from there. One day of failure doesn't a failure make. I, and you, may not be perfect, but we can aim for holy and the only way is through God’s grace.
I had a poster in my bedroom as a teen that said, “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” --Henry VanDyke
Will you steward your every day well? Will you join me in offering my day to God and looking to him for help in the regular stuff? And looking to him for help to grow more holy each day? Let me know some everyday things that have been redeemed for you. Or some area where you long for redemption. Thanks for reading.