Many of my readers know that I have been working out this summer. I have been overweight and out of shape for about 8 years. Being fat has its perks. I love to eat - especially sweet, fatty foods. I love to lay on the couch and read. I like to sit in my easy chair and blog. But awhile back I felt convicted that my level of fitness could greatly limit how God could use me. If I am exhausted by three in the afternoon, it's quite challenging to complete any ministry tasks. And don't even get me started on the physical labor involved in church planting. Being out of shape is certainly not helping any with that.
So far, I have been very faithful to workout between 4 and 6 days a week, except for the week in Mexico. When I started I could not touch my toes, and struggled to get through a workout video. 4 weeks later, I can touch the floor with both hands, and struggle to find a workout video with significant intensity to be challenging. I recently added more weight on my lifting days, and also some yoga. I am excited about the increased stamina, and higher energy.
It is much slower going on changing my body shape. I am seeing just a few results. My calves and shins are more defined, my shoulders have a little bit of definition. If I tilt my neck over just right you can maybe see where my collar bone is. I can see one rib, and part of a second. My love handles are also shrinking. All of this is great, except that I have not lost any weight, and my clothes are just as tight as they were 4 weeks ago. It is hard for me to be patient when results are this slow.
Today was a big day. Now that I have been working out for four weeks, I finally had the nerve to put on my size 16 bikini (stop laughing, yes they come that large) and make some "before" pictures. It was tough. What many of you may not know is that I struggled with an eating disorder most of my teen and early adult years. I thought I was huge when I was a size 3. God gradually healed me through the years, but some things are still tough. (I'll share more about that journey at a later date) I hate trying on clothes in stores, and I hate really looking at myself in a swimsuit in a mirror. So putting on a bikini, looking at myself in the mirror for a serious evaluation, and making photographs from different angles was extraordinarily challenging. I was so proud that I did it. I made the before pictures without crying or panicking or eating issues flaring up. I felt a little nauseous, but I did it. I am saving them to compare with after pictures. I want to be able to see the changes at the end.
All of these thoughts pointed me to God today. My relationship with God is like this working out adventure. Spending time with God takes commitment, it has to be a priority in my life. (Just like working out). Sometimes I spend a long time seeking God and searching the Word without seeing huge results, instead God changes me just a little at a time. (Just like working out) It is only in looking back to who I used to be that I can see who I have become. (Just like the before/after pictures) When I spend time seeking God, I feel better about life, I am more confident, and have a greater strength. (Seeing a pattern yet?) Working out is hard. It is painful when I am sore afterwards. I have to breathe hard. I sweat. Following Christ is not always easy. But it is often at the end of the hardest journey that I see the best results.
I am looking forward to seeing how God uses exercise to change my life. I want to be physically fit and ready for whatever he needs me to do for the kingdom. I want to have the energy to complete the tasks that He has for me. But more importantly I want to be spiritually fit. I want to see how God can change my character as I hungrily seek after Him every day of my life. That's the journey that I am most excited about.