Saturday, January 11, 2014

Remind me: I don't want to miss out on Transformation

The start of the new year has left me sitting in a world of regret. As I ponder the year behind us, I can't help but wonder how exactly I entered the land of failure. Just where did I got wrong? When exactly did I quit believing I could succeed or, more honestly, just quit caring if I even tried?

Analyzing your habits every January is the trend. For me, it didn't matter that I completed 2 half marathons in 2013. The fact remains that I far from embraced a healthy lifestyle. 20 added pounds are a sad reminder of just how much I let myself go.  Bottom line: I quit being intentional. I didn't want to make the choices that would lead to a healthy lifestyle. What I wanted to do in the moment, I did and now I'm paying the price. There's always a cost to our decisions.

I have a friend that leads a boot camp offered through our church this time every year. While there was a tug-of-war going on with my desires, ultimately I signed up for the group. Likely, I joined because I have been a part since its conception. The desire for exercise isn't there. Sure, I desire to be thin. I just don't want to do the work required to achieve the prize. Still, I'm going to the boot camp offered through my church. Does it really matter that the driving force behind my decision was that I don't want to be left out. I hate feeling like I'm missing out on something my friends are doing.

This morning was the first boot camp of the year. Notwithstanding the griping and moaning, I unburied my exercise mat, filled up the water bottle and got myself there. I listened half-heartedly and participate with less enthusiasm because I've been here before. Getting healthy is hard and requires intentionality. I'm too tired, unmotivated and weighed down with empty calorie treats as well as the burdens of the world. But I'm a part of the group anyway. I don't want to miss out.

Negative thoughts that came from searching for clothes that would actually fit this morning are replaced with glimpses of hope mid-exercise as I touch my calf muscle. Surprisingly, there is actually still shape from all the running I took a break from two months ago. Maybe not all is lost? A flicker of hope is lit as my mind recalls the healthy choices I have made even if I didn't give 100%.

"Just give me 8 weeks of healthy eating together." My friend/instructor wants to entice us and I find myself lured like a fish toward bait. He is smart; giving us just a taste today. The exercises he leads us through are achievable and don't feel out-of-reach. Maybe being healthy isn't impossible. While I know the worse is yet to come, I'm believing it is all for my good. I feel more energy at the conclusion of the workout than I've felt in months. 8 weeks, huh?

Not wanting to miss out may not be such a bad motivation. I don't know how many people were there today but it was good to know I was surrounded by others who believe change is good. Different ages, sizes, and fitness levels filled the room. Excuses lose their effectiveness in the middle community. Not everyone's story is like mine but we all have excuses taunting us to stay comfortable. Community reminds me that God desires transformation. In the moment, I may not be so convinced I want others to inspire me to change. Deep in my heart, however, I know those are the best relationships to surround myself with.

My mind flashes to Bible verses I learned as a child. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up."  I'm grateful for the crowd of witnesses to keep my eyes on the prize. Hebrews 12 also goes on about the necessity and value of discipline even if I kick and scream like a little child against it.

God created community for a reason. Our church advertises life change. Even when I don't want to change, God calls me to more. Transformation is God's desire for us. It should be our desire for each other.

"For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."  (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

It's not just in the area of physical fitness that I'm encouraged to change. It's spiritual, emotional and relational health as well. I am still not certain I want to commit to the discipline a healthy lifestyle requires. However, I am convinced that God placed me in this community because He knows I might need encouragement to gather that desire. I want this community... even when it is hard... especially when I want to quit.
Thank you, Southfield, for accepting me where I am and yet spurring me on to become more like Christ. It's what this life is all about. With God keeping my heart moldable and your encouragement to continue saying "yes" to Him, I am better. I want to be better. Please keep pushing me even when I push back. I need you. I'm better because of you and grateful for you. Remind me to count the cost when faced with a fork in the road and I promise to do the same for you. It may not be easy but it is worth it in the end. Don't let me make excuses. I don't want to miss out.

"A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 'If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” (Luke 14: 25-35)


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