Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Finding Balance

Being fit does not make a person happy.  In fact, for those who are people pleasers, it does quite the opposite.  Instead of 'winning friends and influencing people', it produces envy and an isolation in perceived perfection.  Strength is viewed as an ideal rather than an inspiration because no one can relate to it.

I sought fitness for my health, or so I thought.  In truth, I am accountable to my insurance company, and that was my prime motivation.  But now I'm realizing that there may have been other factors which spurred me on, such as thinking I would be more accepted, not only by others, but especially of myself.  Not true.  Why did I go through all that effort only to push people away?  

Somewhere in all of this, there lies a balance. 

My mom died of leukemia.  Being her eighth child, I never knew her frame any other way than overweight.  But she gave her life for her family.  Sure, she could have spent hours at the gym or hiking the hills, but at what expense?  Instead, most every day she cooked three sit down meals for her family.  (Seriously, I'm not exaggerating with that fact.)  She did mountains of laundry and cleaned the house countless times.  She was intelligent, sharp, and quick on her feet.  She used those skills in ministry at her local church, and to train her children in godliness.  She died with little earthly possessions, but rich in eternal rewards, and although her physical body never measured up to any chart, she spent her energy and time on the right things.

But no one should be placed on a pedestal and it's so easy to do that with dead people.  She was not a superwoman.  I'm certain my Dad would have appreciated more of her devotion and energy spent taking care of her physical body.  And us children would have liked more of her time than her completion of tasks.   But she erred on the side of serving her family because that was how she communicated love.  And if we must default to one or the other, unselfishness is a noble route. 

Success at any endeavor requires a certain amount of obsession.  It is commonly called our passion.  But what good is the shape of our bodies in the light of eternity?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I think of those who devote a significant portion of their lives to exercise and denial so they might enjoy quality of life or add a few extra years.  But at what expense?  What is neglected in order to accomplish this goal? 

When my two oldest children were in middle school, I often left the house early to run with a friend.  Meanwhile, they got up and ready for school.  They made their own lunch and ate their own breakfast.  I called it, 'learning to be capable and grown up'.  But it was really my own selfishness and neglect.  I do not regret the time with my friend, but I am very ashamed of my poor mothering and sorry I ever put exercise in that place.  The exercise itself was not wrong, but the timing was off.

Yet, now I have entered a season where I have the time to devote toward fitness without neglecting my family.  To take care of my body is, indeed, honoring to God.  He created me and desires that I take care of His creation to the best of my ability.  But until I cross that line from being controlled by food, to controlling it, the battle does need to be front center, a priority.  I have to be insane about the exercise and intense over denial until it is conquered.   It will not always be this way, because other things in life are far more important.  

As a result of this season of dedication to my health, there have been consequences.  The garden never got weeded, the clutter piled up in the house, some projects were left undone, and a few good intentions never came to fruition.   I had to be okay with these things left awry in order to focus on the goal.  Otherwise the objective would never have been accomplished.  And so there has to be seasons to some priorities. 

However, exercise can easily become something we worship.  Even discipline itself can be a source of pride and idolatry.  At that point, we become out of balance.  Yet, I hope at the end of my life, my children will say, "Mom spent her life on the right things." 

Every aspect of our lives needs to have the right balance, but this is the hardest thing of all to achieve.  And so I trust those who read this blog will understand that these posts in October have actually been a series, starting with spiritual wrestling and surrender, resulting in a step of faith into obedience, and ending in tangible action.  The spiritual side of the battle, I'm assured, will reap eternal reward, even though the physical will perish.  But most of all, my relationship with God has deepened.  And for that, it is all worth it. 

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