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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shaky Arms

My arms are shaky…really shaky.  In fact I’m not sure I can lift anything above my head.  Why is that?  Well there’s a couple of simple answers.  The most obvious one is that I just did a challenging crossfit workout that has left my muscles feeling like jelly.  But the less obvious and truer answer is because I am a rebel.
Our culture often celebrates the rebel spirit.  We root for the underdog.  When it comes to an oppressive government or corporate domination, there is good cause to celebrate the rebel.  But when it comes to rebelling against a loving, benevolent father who seeks the very best for us, then rebellion is just plain stupid and self-destructive.  Yes, admittedly and ashamedly, I am that kind of rebel.

I have depended on a need for control to bring me comfort in my life.  Unfortunately, control is an illusion.  Regardless of your faith beliefs, it isn’t too hard to argue that ultimately, you have no control of your future or circumstances.  No one knows when a heart attack may happen, a natural disaster, an act of terrorism or a random traffic accident.  We are not guaranteed the next day, the minute, the next second of our lives.  And yet so many of us thrive on planning, planning, planning…not just the planning, but the worrying of what if things do not go as planned.  

I realized many years ago the futility of believing I had control over my circumstances.  This does not usually scare me because my faith in the creator of all things, the God who was and is and is to come, the lover of my soul, and my saving grace gives me hope and peace in resting in his hands.  But understanding and accepting are two very different things and thus enters by rebellious nature.  While I know I have no control over what happens in this world, I know I have complete control in the choices I make.  Our decisions and actions are ours to control.  God has always granted us free will with the ultimate desire that we choose to follow him and love him (for our own good!!).  

A wise, knowledgeable person would seek to listen to and follow the one who has their best interests at the forefront.  So why don’t I?  Because I am a rebel.  My very nature is one of rebellion.  I want control.  I want to do what I want to do, even though I have proven over and over that my decisions are self-destructive and unwise.  And that brings me back, full-circle, to my shaky arms.

For years I have chosen to do what makes me feel good in the moment.  I eat food that pleases my taste buds, that gives me a visceral satisfaction for a short period, in quantities that make me feel ill at times.  I have chosen to sit on the couch, lay in bed and to lament this body that is full of aches and limitations.  Instead of thanking the God of the universe who knit me together in my mother’s womb for the miraculous vessel he has given me to reside in, I have railed against my limitations, cursed my chronic pain and shamefully complained about the limits of this body, while drinking a Coke and downing pizza. 

I am not saying all this to wallow in regret or self-hate.  I
have faced this realization and repented.  I mean only to illustrate the rebellious nature that drives me to abuse the freewill God has granted me and make my life harder, simply because I want to feel like I have control.  It’s ridiculous and stupid.  And so I am at a turning point. 

For the last six weeks I have been on a journey to lose weight and get healthier.  There are number of reasons to do this.  I want to feel better.  I want to be able to be active with my children and set a good example.  I want to relieve some of the pain I experience as a direct result of carrying around so much extra weight.  But ultimately, I want to be a good steward and grateful servant.  I want to do more than pay lip service to God when I say how grateful I am for all he has done for me.  I want to be able to submit to his desires for me, which are the very best!  I want to be able to use this body he has given me to its full efficiency, serving him with its strengths and glorifying him in its weaknesses.

It means facing my rebellious spirit straight on and seeking to be submissive.  It means accepting that having control over what I do with my body does not mean I should do whatever I want.  It means praying.  It means focusing on my relationship with my Savior.  It means being thankful, truly thankful, for my body with all of its abilities and disabilities.  It means choosing to eat things that make my body feel good, not just my taste buds.  It means submitting to pain and discomfort as I choose to get off the couch and out of bed to be active, to push muscles that have not been pushed in my entire life.  

My arms are shaky…really shaky.  Tomorrow I may not be able to lift them above my head.  Thank God that next week, they will be ready to be challenged again.  And in a few more weeks or months, maybe I’ll be able to do that illusive pushup that I’ve never been able to do, once, in my entire life.  Maybe in a few more weeks or months, I can look in the mirror and be even more thankful that God has granted me a body that is resilient and will see me through this life, especially when I make smart decisions—when I choose to be thankful and wise with the privilege of choice. 

I thank God for his love, grace, mercy…for free-will…and yes, for my shaky arms.

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