grace is.

Can we just talk about grace for a bit?

We have to back up a little. I'm sure I've said it before, but I used to think the Gospel was that Jesus died for me, so because of that I needed to be good enough to perfectly live my life for him. Sure, the Holy Spirit was in me but I had to drum up the self-control from within to prove to Jesus that he wasn't wasting his time when he chose me. Then I learned that the Gospel is that Jesus DOES IT ALL.

All of it.

He saw my rebellion, he died for me, he chose me and gave me his righteousness when I did nothing but be a rebellious sinner. Then he keeps giving me the grace by his Holy Spirit to see my sin--the true condition of my heart when I think things are just fine or not that bad--be convicted of it, repent, and find rest and joy in *HIM* and not the thing I thought would satisfy me.

So then grace.

Grace says there is no shame. Grace says there is no "fix" but simply surrender. I have to earn nothing, prove nothing, make God look good in no way. Grace through Jesus says, "I did all of that. You are free. Rest in me."

This is all beautiful and true, but it's also the metapicture. Let's zoom into my life right now.

Can we just all agree this isn't always true?
I look like the right but eat NOTHING like what's shown.
(sources to pictures hyperlinked; click on photo)

My weight has been an issue my entire life. I have gone through phases, in varying levels of repeat. There is the one where I think I'm doing fine, in which I am probably not being realistic about my eating and exercise. Usually in this phase I gain weight. Then there is one in which I really, really try. I log every bite I put in my mouth, I wear some sort of movement tracker (I currently use this, the Fitbit Flex) and usually there is very little progress. For example, in the middle of last year I busted my tail for I believe over three months, never missing a day of logging food, averaging about 1,400 calories a day, and getting consistent exercise. Over about 110 days I lost about 6 pounds, and I weighed about 280 pounds at the time so...yeah, pretty discouraging. So after that typically there comes a phase where I feel like, "What's the point?" and I pretty much just eat whatever I want and don't even attempt exercise. If the difference between extreme effort and complete apathy is 2% of my body weight then what is the point?

Late last year I felt like I was tired of the cycle. I have tried to make lifestyle choices, I have read and researched and know more than is even helpful at times about nutrition, and I have obsessed over my exercise. But a few months ago I decided it was time for some help. I contacted a nutritional therapist that I have developed a deep respect for and I started a wellness program with her on January 6th.

There's a lot to say, but I want to zoom in on the grace.

My nutritional therapist, Andrea, has been super helpful. She sent over a plan and a map of foods that are ideal, ok, to be rare, and not allowed. She also exhorted me to exercise 30 minutes three times a week. In my initial appointment I voiced concern about fitting in the exercise.

The first week I was reasonable--I ate well and increased my movement from averaging 4k steps a day to about 7k a day. Fast forward to last week--I was averaging 12k steps a day, spending 4-6 hours on Sundays to prep all of my whole, clean, organic foods, plus a good hour or two each day with the actual cooking and assembling of the prepped food. Plus we're trying to really clamp down on our finances; as a result we've decided to not move into a house, stay in our condo at least another year, and kill some debt. In turn, I'm doing some organizing, rearranging, and better cleaning to make our condo not feel unbearable for the next 18 months. All this came added into a life that already had me feeling like a too-tightly-strung guitar string.

Food like this is delicious. It's great for you. It also takes a TON of work.
(I didn't cook this; it's a decent representation of what my meals look like as of late, though)

As you might guess I was...well, stressed is just not an adequate adjective. I was impatient and snappy with my kids. And after using up the best of me on them (tragic that my best was rather awful) my poor husband had a hot mess of a wife. Sure, his floors were clean and his food healthy and delicious, but those alone do not make a home one sorely missed when he had to be gone for work. Not to mention that sometimes when you make a lot of changes to improve your health your body rebels, so I felt just AWFUL and everyone had a nasty cold. Not a great week.

So then when I sat in a meeting with Andrea Monday, after just dumping my mess of a mind and heart on my husband during date night, and expected her to tell me to suck it up and deal with it.

But then she didn't. She showed me grace. She pointed me to Jesus' grace.

She told me that she's working with me to help establish life change. She, in short, was not impressed with me killing myself physically and trying to eat perfectly. The gold star standard I was trying to establish as my new life pattern could never last. Even if I *did* choose to keep up the exercise and food and cleaning my family would suffer and my attitude about it all was not glorifying to Jesus.

Plus, I realized that I was in the crazy phase, not the life changing phase. The crazy phase leads to giving up, to succumbing to the whisper that I am a fat person and will always just be grotesquely overweight, obese. It's who I am.

Grace, said through Jesus, firmly states, "You are mine."

And grace in action looks like me completely forgetting to do my nightly sweep of the tile last night. Grace is intentionally being more active and not checking my steps. Grace is confessing to Jesus that 80k steps a week is an idol, as is pursuing eating and exercise habits to worship my ideal of a smaller body instead of the person of Jesus. Grace is eating a no-star-earning lunch yesterday because it's not about being perfect and my habit of just not eating is worse than eating some jasmine rice.

I was prepping dinner one day and realized my cabbage looked like this.
Even my food is reminding me that it's all about worshiping Jesus.
Rocks cry out much?
Grace is looking at the face of Jesus and knowing that, to him, I am beloved and treasured. Grace is refusing to continue to believe that the breadth of my hips is an inverted ratio to the low estate of my worth before Jesus. Grace is cleaving to Jesus when my de-barnacled, bloodied fingers have been chiseled off of the barnacle covered, rusted shipwreck of worshiping what people think of me.

Grace is continually crying out, "LORD! I believe! Help my unbelief!" until my hoarse voice gives out and the Spirit is interpreting groans.

Grace is fully mine in Jesus. Jesus is fully mine by grace. I am hidden in Christ, even from my own sin.

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