Two to three years ago I started noticing a persistent pain in my right hip – literally like a dull thorn in my side. I’d try to push-on and push-through, ignoring what my body was begging me to pay attention to. The discomfort only worsened over time until I was face-smackingly aware of my situation. Injured. Sidelined. Weakened.
Sure, it might sound like no big deal, and in the grand scheme of things, it is. [Fortunately, an upcoming, minimally invasive surgery should fully remedy the issue.]
But after years of training, athletics, competitions, and days that were measured based solely on the level of physical activity I produced and the condition I kept my body in; nothing feels weirder than slowing down.
Daily runs have become sporadic walks and off-days have become off-weeks. It’s a rather humbling experience when half-marathons turn into huffing up a flight of stairs, and your go-to pair of jeans don’t even remotely fit anymore.
I’d always been able to manage an anxious, restless, raging internal fire, that relied upon countless miles ran and games played to experience a cathartic release and calmer demeanor. Even from the time I was 6 years old, if I didn’t have 6 hours worth of gymnastics practice in a day, I could be found running laps around the house and crawling the furniture. Yikes. Sorry, fam.
What I never would’ve anticipated is how slowing down has, in turn, forced me to see the areas of self-acceptance and gentleness that needed to grow. Trying to give myself grace while feeling more out of shape than I’ve ever been in my entire lifeeee, is no easy task.
[Disclaimer: Please know, I say all of this with the acknowledgement that weight and level of fitness is relative. There is no comparison. That’s also why you won’t ever find any before/after images or weight/loss numbers.]
As if being injured and unable to workout didn’t wreck havoc on my ‘routine’ enough, I also moved back home (yes, with my parents) just under 2 years ago, and pretty much said bye-bye to my rather limited, “healthy” eating habits.
Granted, I was underweight, working out constantly, and the pickiest eater. [Go ahead & ask me how that recipe was working out for me…]
Day by day, slowly but surely; my eating habits starting normalizing and I started learning to eat whatever amazing meal my mom cooked because a) they were free, b) they were delicious, and most importantly, c) I realized she is a gracious and loving host, who wholeheartedly desires to provide for her family.
I started to see how when I would grocery shop for myself, cook separate meals, or make my own things; it’s as if I was taking her joy to serve away from her, while insinuating that what she had to give wasn’t good enough for me. It definitely didn’t make me (or her) feel any happier, and if anything; it just left me feeling deprived.
In fact, at the end of the day, what she was cooking in happiness [butter and cheese and all], was healthier than me refusing to eat it out of fear.
Disordered eating and an intense fitness regimen can be weird like that. You start out doing it all for the right reasons and somewhere along the way, you lose sight of the bigger picture.
I think faith and being in a relationship with our Heavenly Father works the same way. After all, He [not I] is the Great Provider.
When we try to run from our circumstances, make our own side errands, control everything that’s on our plate, & try to fill up on our own sustenance, we cost ourselves more in the process, and detract from what’s already been prepared for us. This leaves us feeling overly complicated, anxious, and guilty for stunting our own progress; while robbing our caretaker of His desire and joy to give so freely in the process.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” [1 Peter 5:7]
It also makes me think of how, in the book of Luke, Jesus asked His disciples:
“When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, …”For what is written about me has its fulfillment … It is enough.” [Luke 22:35-38, ESV, abbreviated]
I see those last three words and I think of how many aspects of my life they apply to. That what’s plated before me is enough. That my gifts, my talents, my abilities are enough. That when I feel lacking in materialistic things, I already have enough.
When I feel ‘hungry’, when I feel ‘full’ – I’ve ‘consumed’ enough. When I feel mentally, spiritually, physically, or emotionally exhausted by inactivity and inability, there’s no need for more berating myself, because grace is enough.
He rests, settles, soothes, softens, and fills the crevices of our craving hearts, joints, & soft tissues in need of repair. He rounds out our edges, and mends at all the broken places in a way so delicate, and tender; yet incomprehensibly bold and strong.
Fast forward to 22 months later – still injured and awaiting my surgery date, it’s almost laughable how I’m at a healthier weight than I’ve been in years. Sure, I’ve had to buy new jeans and my tops don’t lay as loose as they used to. On some days do I hate that? Yes. Do I feel perfect where I’m at? Course not. There is always work to be done & the only constant is change.
But I’ve been left with more than a softer, fuller figure. I’ve received a bigger, more compassionate heart, a far stronger soul that’s tasted true fulfillment, and a mindset that wants nothing more than to give grace—yes, even for my own body.
Allow yourself to find the strength in your softer side. Know that wherever you are in your journey, it is enough. In all shapes & sizes, you are enough.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen”. [1 Peter 5:10-11]
“If you’re discouraged, this is for you. Last weekend, I went shopping for new jeans. I found myself incredibly discouraged in the dressing room as I tried to squeeze into a new pair. I cocked my head to one side, completely bewildered like THE SIZE ON THIS TAG IS LYING!
After countless hours in agony, I finally ended up buying a new pair. However, I still haven’t worn them. I keep going back to the old pair. The new ones aren’t as comfy or familiar. They don’t know my shape and I haven’t mustered up the courage to step into them.
You know, I think life is a lot like jeans. When the jeans don’t fit in the dressing room, it’s like the gap between the life were living and the life we’re invited to live is staring at us. And we get discouraged because we’re stuck. After we finally buy them, it’s like Jesus handed us new jeans (new life) we keep going back to the old jeans because the new ones just don’t quite fit. But when we stay with our old, comfortable self, we miss out on what God has for us. The payment has been made & we’re free to step into the new life but we often revert back to what’s comfortable.
But let me just tell you something: if you feel stuck, it’s probably because the jeans you’re wearing are full of holes. The old way of life will keep trying to tell you that it is the better way. But that’s a big lie. Stepping into a life with Jesus is uncomfortable. The new jeans don’t always fit just right. But I believe God wants us to wear them anyway. Because overtime, He will work and shape you to fit the glorious life He has designed for you.
You see, you were created to be transformed by the power of His work but you can’t do that in ratty old jeans.
So don’t get stuck in the dressing room or in dirty old jeans. Step out into the land of discomfort with me. Because there we will be shaped into a people more comfortable in His kingdom than anywhere else.”