The Winding and Troubled Road of Transformation
Journal Entry 10-31-2016
It’s been a very hard several weeks for me. I have struggled with finding a peace of mind and a joyful spirit. In my current set of circumstances, my weight gain has been one of the worst consequences of lacking self-control. Physically, my body is maxed out. It hurts to sit, there’s too much weight on my tailbone. It’s hard to get comfortable, there’s just too much fat in my mid-section. Oh my feet, they hurt so bad. I am snoring, coughing a lot, and none of my clothes fit. Those are my physical woes…well some of them. The IBS is out of control and I look like a pumpkin! I am so ashamed and I feel embarrassed. It’s hard to look in the mirror. Spiritually, I am hanging on by a thread, thankfully, the Lord holds me tightly no matter the circumstance.
The story of Keeping My Promise, Justin
A year and a half would pass after my journal entry before I would finally decide to make a change. One Sunday evening, our twenty-year-old son Justin asked me if we could talk. For the last several months, he and I had been going back and forth about his desire to get a motorcycle. I was adamantly against it and he was passionately for it. It was clear that I was losing the battle because he had spent the previous weekend completing a motorcycle safety course enabling him to obtain a motorcycle license.
My son wisely repeated my own concerns for his safety operating a motorcycle and then very gently turned the tables and shared his own concern for my health and well-being. To my surprise, he told me that he would be willing to forgo buying a motorcycle if I would agree to get healthy! With my head swimming, I wholeheartedly agreed to his terms. Admittedly, I was a little embarrassed, but mostly humbled, because he cared so much for me to give up something that he was crazy excited about. After our conversation, I affirmed Justin and I thanked him for being so brave. I recognized that he was no longer a boy, but a man. Later when I was alone, I thanked God for his faithfulness and for not leaving me alone in my self-induced mess.
The very next day, I felt overwhelmed and a little fearful. I asked the Lord to strengthen me for my pilgrimage to stewarding my body well and then jumped in head first. I immediately cut out sugar, soda, and bread from my diet. Each night at dinner, Justin asked me how I was doing and enquired if I was still following my plan. My answer was a resounding, “Yes!”. His response was a Texas-sized smile and “Good job, Mama!”.
Only six days later on Saturday, July 15, our dear Justin was tragically killed in a car accident. Every day is a new opportunity to keep my promise to Justin as I cling to my hope in Christ Jesus.
Relief from Shame
Admittedly, I have struggled with my weight since I was a young girl. I well remember a night much like my journal entry above; I was in the pit of discouragement feeling ashamed and embarrassed. It was a vicious cycle of defeat and I saw no way out. I cried out to Lord in my distress and he renewed my hope with a tenderness that I have never forgotten. He led me to Psalm 34:5, “Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” With tear-stained cheeks, He lifted my chin to gaze upon His majesty showing me His love was not conditional to my behavior. When I look to Him, my shame vanishes. Isn’t that the hope of the Gospel? No matter the sin we have become entangled with, the power of Christ offers us freedom. For if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, He simultaneously provides the power and strength to change. Our sin and thorns in our flesh enable us to realize our desperate need for our Savior. I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9,
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Power to Change
If I were to attain my goal weight, fit into my favorite pair of jeans, and it was all accomplished through mere behavioral modification and willpower yielding no lasting change in my heart, it would all be rubbish! My goal in life is to love God more. If the affections of my heart only shift from one sinful pleasure to another, it is all vanity.
When the Holy Spirit convicts us, our eyes are opened to the folly of our sin, and the only acceptable response is repentance and trust. Through this super-natural reconciliation of forgiveness, our heart’s are transformed more into the image of His Son, for it is his kindness that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4) Therefore, like Paul, we can “boast in our weaknesses so that the power of Christ might rest upon us.”
10 Months Later
At the time of this writing, I am ten months into my pilgrimage. It has been a winding and troubled road, but at every turn, He is faithful. Through his strength, I have made progress and I am able to physically accomplish so much more than before. If Justin were still alive, I know he would be beaming. God in his sovereignty arranged our conversation at just the right time when I would need it most. My heart is filled with gratitude for His love and care for me. He gives me grace upon grace along with the strength for what each day will hold.
Forever in His grip,