I recently received a message from a client that said many soberingly true, real, hard things, but what stayed with me long after I read her message was this statement: "it is humiliating to wear your sin on your hips for the whole world to see".
Wow. Did anyone else wince a little bit after reading that?
Maybe you identified directly to this statement. Thinking it daily, but never finding the courage to write it down. And that's exactly what it took for her to write it in a message to me. Courage and surrender.
Who hasn't felt uncomfortable in her own skin? Who hasn't regretted the choices she's made? If you can honestly tell me that you have always been 100% comfortable and confident in your choices that lead to your body composition and have always had a positive body image, then God bless you. You are in the smallest of minorities. Ever.
Maybe you took immediate offense to it instead. Maybe you're ready to type me a comment under this post stating how I am a part of the problem of what is wrong with our society and cultural expectations of what is considered beautiful. And how dare I call being overweight a sin!
I understand your defensiveness. I get that it's hard to be shown your sin. And as my client said, it's harder still to confess that sin, or in her words "wear [it...] for the whole world to see". But you see, it's not being overweight that's the sin. And she would be the first to tell you that. This post is not a post about societal expectation of beauty or body image or weight.
It's the condition of the heart that matters, not the condition of the hips.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
In some cases, the heart's condition tends to be manifested in the hips. It is extremely rare for me, a personal trainer and life coach, to see someone who is overweight or obese (or underweight and malnourished) who is not in this condition due to a heart issue. It is almost NEVER a body issue that causes this, but almost always a heart issue. What do I mean by "heart issue"? For the intents and purposes of this post I will define "heart issue" as a motivation for doing something.
Ask yourself why you go back for seconds when your body is fueled and nourished with one serving. Ask yourself why you are eating that bag of Cheetos (or m&m's) on your couch at 10:00pm in your jammies. Ask yourself why you exercised compulsively today for three and a half hours. Ask yourself why you have to have that glass of wine or drink (or three) every single night. There are many heart conditions that can work to erode your healthy relationship with food, drink and exercise - and ultimately your relationship with Jesus. Anything from needing to be in control, feeling unworthy, guilt, shame, pride, envy, hopelessness, despair, insecurity, lack of confidence or pure carelessness. There is no telling what you can convince yourself of when any of these is your motivation - your heart's condition.
It is when other things in our life are chaotic that we feel a bit of a sense of control when we count every single calorie consumed and expended. Or maybe in the chaos of life we find a sense of relief and peace in food or drink and overeat.
It is when we are aching from the lack of attention given by our parents that we choose to binge on wine or sweets to fill the void. Or maybe the ache is from an unanswered prayer, an untimely death, a terrible accident or a job loss.
Then it is in our guilt and shame from binging that we vow, "I am never doing this again. I will get control and make good decisions tomorrow". But tomorrow comes and we are again overwhelmed and continue the cycle of failure and defeat. And when we repeatedly fail, we lose hope and confidence in ourselves and our abilities.
This is where the sin lies. This is where we fall short. This is where we are never going to measure up or overcome on our own. Anything we do is simply a band aid when what we need is a tourniquet. We need the forgiving and healing love of Jesus to spill out and over and on us. To bind our wounds. To heal our hearts. To mend our brokenness. To pick us up. To keep us going. To guide us. To lead us. To call us home.
Isaiah 46:4 I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
You can read a number of self-help books, weight loss books, personal development books (hey, I LOVE a good personal development book), put yourself on a the newest, trendiest diet and begin a state-of-the-art fitness program that a personal trainer developed specifically for you. But if you do not address the root of the problem - your heart's condition - the condition of your hips will never improve.
Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Dear Heavenly Father - Today I want to honor you with my choices; what words I choose to say to myself and my family; what food I choose to eat to nourish my body and what I drink. Help me to view exercise as a means of worship - way in which I can serve my body and you. Help me to honor you with everything that I am. Lord forgive me for any selfish ambitions I have, for any personal gains I make that do not give you glory. Lord you are the giver of life. Please daily refresh my longings and direct them to you. You are the only one who can fill the emptiness I sometimes feel. Lord take my life and let it be ALL for you. Amen