4/06/2010

This Heart Of Mine

Yesterday I promised to share with you how horrible March was.

For the first two weeks I struggled with my back acting up, an injury you can read about here (start at the bottom and work your way up).  Then I had a major migraine endure for five days, a lovely PMS precursor to cramps that had me on the couch in tears for the next three.  I can't take anything but Tylenol (ibuprofen and other alternatives are too harsh on my surgically altered stomach pouch), but Tylenol doesn't touch cramps for me so I just suffered.  Then, when I finally could walk upright, I contracted my husband's cold which turned into a respiratory infection that sidelined me from ANYTHING for over two weeks, and now, 3 1/2 weeks later, I STILL don't breathe 100% normally.

Needless to say, I couldn't go to the gym at all.  I didn't want to eat anything, and I struggled to force myself to get in my protein (I drink two shakes a day, totaling 75 grams of protein, and try to eat 25-50 grams more protein on top of that- it's crucial to post weight loss surgery success).  Then, the only thing I did want to eat was Pringles.  So... I did.  For two and a half weeks, pretty much all I ate was 4 cans of Pringles.  Then I just didn't eat for nearly a week.  Not eating is worse than eating poorly, but I hate that I put such junk in my body.

Then, there was suffering due to people's hurtful words.  You may recall the ugliness of a couple of people cloaked in anonymity on the internet saying they wished I would get cancer, calling me a "dumb ho" and "retarded", among other equally uplifting remarks.  Around the same time, someone I love and poured my time, prayer, and heart into betrayed me and wounded me deeply.  She openly detests me, though I did nothing wrong, and I have to live with that because there's not a thing I can do about it, for I cannot change her heart.  Then, for a week or so my husband and I, both struggling in our individual walks with Jesus (read: not submitting to him nor turning to him), fought almost constantly.  We don't generally fight much, so the constant arguing and bickering weighed on me heavily.

Suffice it to say, March was hard.  I made it harder on myself than it needed to be, though.  For the first two weeks my prayer journal consistently started with, "Dear Jesus, I don't want to be here [meeting with you]... please, Holy Spirit, work in my heart and help me want to be here."  Then for the latter half of March, silence.  I didn't read my Bible. I didn't pray.  It was because of illness, but I couldn't go to church or be in community.  I buried myself in watching DVD's of Seasons 1 & 2 of Friends and tried not to think about nor feel anything.

Somehow, in the midst of all of that, Jesus was pursuing me.  For example, early in the month, when my back was first hurting, I had a moment where it occurred to me that my back might be headed toward the awfulness of when I first hurt it.  The idea that I might not be able to exercise (in February I had started training to run- RUN!- my first 5k in September to celebrate my one-year surgiversary) hit me full on.  I'm not one much to panic, but I literally almost passed out from the adrenaline and fear hitting me head-on.  Add to that the fact that I barely lost any weight in March, and I realized that somewhere, somehow, I had begun to idolize health.

Health is a good thing.  But it's not a God thing.  I was worshiping my new identity as Tami-the-girl-who-has-lost-110+-pounds.  Additionally, I can do cardio like few people can.  I can push myself to where my heart is pumping at 160-180 beats a minute from working out so hard and I can stay there for an hour, torching hundreds of calories on the bike / elliptical / treadmill.  It's not wrong to be able to do that- Jesus made my body and it's awesome that I can work out that way.  But the Holy Spirit showed me that in my heart I'm convinced people still think of me as Fat & Lazy Tami, so I want to be known as Increasingly Thinner Amazing Cardio Tami.  I think Cardio Tami is a good identity and Fat & Lazy Tami is a bad identity.  My heart desires the "good" reputation more than it desires to be identified only by Jesus.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
[Jeremiah 17:9, ESV]
Oh, how true the Bible is! My heart decided that being fit, especially having a reputation as one becoming fit, was of utmost importance.  My thoughts on not spending time reading my Bible included a fear, in the deepest, darkest, recesses of my heart that if I didn't start pursuing my relationship with Jesus then he would stop blessing me and I'd stay fat and miserable.

Image courtesy of Photographic D on Flickr
March was indeed a miserable month, yet as I look back, none of the misery was related to my weight.  Some of it was wound in genuinely rough circumstances, including physical and emotional pain, but the true misery came from resisting Jesus.  The worst part is that I know with every fiber in me that God is good, loving, and that his only desire for me is good.  He does not punish, nor does he deny me access to himself when I repent and turn from my sin.  I always thought that truly believing God is a good, loving father would change my heart to want him, that my not wanting him was because I still believed him to be a capricious and petty God seeking to hurt me.  Jesus brought major victory in February, and I stopped believing those lies, and yet only a month later I was still resisting God.

Why?

My heart is deceitful and desperately sick.  It loves sin.  It loves to hide in mindless entertainment as a way to cope and avoid pain.  Proverbs 4:23 says to work very hard to keep my heart in check, because everything in my life flows from it.  When I don't do this work of turning to Jesus, my heart runs amok and sin reigns and I'm miserable.  But, when I surrender, confess my desperate need of Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in doing this work- consistently turning back to Jesus when I sin, not stubbornly avoiding him- my circumstances don't change, I'm still frustrated, but somehow I have hope and life isn't so bleak.

As of today, I'm still struggling to want to read my Bible.  I had to read certain parts of Ezra today over and over because my mind kept wandering to what exercises I would do at the gym and things I want to put on a to-do list, like a good deep-cleaning of the bathroom.  I desire crave the opportunity to go to my Hulu queue and spend hours "checking out".  I had to force myself to write checks to pay bills today, and dreaded returning simple phone calls regarding business matters.  On the elliptical, mid-workout, I had to close my eyes and pray to Jesus that he'd help me to remember that exercise is worship, not me building my reputation as a fit woman.  On and on, every few moments I saw myself faced with the opportunity to turn to Jesus or to ignore him and feed the desire of my heart to be my own God.  Sometimes I failed, but by the grace of God I continually had opportunities to repent.

This is the Christian life.  Sometimes huge victories come, and we get to float on the pure sweetness of grace.  Other times are incredibly painful and we're so desperate for Jesus that sin is the least palatable option. Most of the time, though, life is a daily grind of monotony and in the mundane is a web of choices, always with the opportunity to consciously live before the face of God, aware that he's there and sees/knows everything, including the silent thoughts of our heart, and choosing to worship him.  The other option is to try and convince ourselves of a lie, that somehow we're not constantly living before the face of God and thus don't have to worship him.

I'm not ensured that I'll never have another month like March, but I pray that as sucktastic circumstances come my way I'll worship Jesus and repent quickly when I don't.  I may have times where I don't read my Bible nor pray because I just don't want to, but I pray that as I mature the length of those times decreases and my desire to repent and rely on the Holy Spirit will become the pattern of my life.

I don't know about you, but I'm more grateful for April than I've ever been.  I pray that just as March was a month of sin and rebellion, April will set the tone for heart change in me that more consistently leans toward rejoicing in grace and living by humble repentance.  Jesus' gracious and patient pursuit of me even in the midst of the suckfest that was March reminds me that he's a god worthy of my worship and nothing- not even people hating me because I love him, nor my own sinful heart that rebels against him- can separate me from him.  My redemption is a certain as the empty tomb and nothing will ever shake that faith from me because it is a gift from the Holy Spirit that human hands cannot touch.  I get to rejoice, so I will.  Praise Jesus!

No comments:

Post a Comment