Losing and Gaining
"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." Proverbs 25:28 (NIV)
Ever feel like your life is spinning out of control? I can relate. About a year ago I noticed an amazing phenomenon — all my clothes were shrinking!
Of course, stepping on a scale at a friend's house a couple months later brought a much-needed dose of reality and confirmed my silent fear — I'd gained too many unwanted and unhealthy pounds.
So when a coworker told me she was joining a weight-loss class near our office last January, I begrudgingly joined her. Every Thursday we spent our lunch hour weighing in (ugh!), celebrating the successes of our classmates, and learning about healthy, balanced eating.
Over the past eight months, I've fought long and hard to change my relationship with food. Now I try to eat only when I'm hungry — not when I'm bored, lonely, rewarding myself, needing comfort, avoiding housework … (you get the picture!). And I've started working out again. Three or four times a week I dare to don spandex and sweat up a storm with my step aerobics videotapes.
A couple weeks ago I celebrated a major WooHoo! moment — I finally reached my goal weight! While I'm pumped about fitting back into that pair of jeans that's been mocking me from the corner of my closet, being able to climb a flight of stairs without getting completely winded, and being a better caretaker of what the Bible calls God's temple, I've been surprised by the benefit that's meant the most to me: control.
In the process of losing those pesky pounds, I've been gaining control of my health. The strength I've attained hasn't just been physical. In addition to finding and actually defining my deltoids, I've found inner strength in the form of discipline, willpower, and persistence. I never thought such lofty words could apply to me! This positive control and strength has felt amazingly satisfying.
It's no surprise that in our culture and our fallen humanness, we don't have control over much in our life — such as poverty, taxes, and bad hair days. I've also come to realize that singleness can be a huge source of feeling out of control. No amount of wishing, praying, mingling, or dating can make God's best match for us suddenly appear (though that usually doesn't stop me from trying!). That lack of control can make singleness even more frustrating at times. Not only are we longing for a lifetime love, we're powerless to do anything about it. And that just plain stinks.
I think feeling this major area of powerlessness has made my newfound discipline and strength that much more gratifying. It reminds me of the Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Okay, I'll admit I'm still working on that first part, but losing weight has taught me the power of changing the things I can. It's helped me realize singleness isn't the only thing in my life (though there are days it feels that way), and it's given me fresh eyes with which to see, appreciate, and scrutinize the other areas that comprise my world.
I'm going to try to focus my energies on the things I can change — like my out-of-control finances — instead of letting those energies languish, or worse yet, spending them fretting or whining about the things I can't control, like my singleness.
The good news is there's now 32 pounds less of me to change. And when I face roadblocks and frustrations, instead of turning to Ben and Jerry for support, I'm better at turning to the only One who can and should control my life — God.