A few years ago, I was at a turning point in my life. I was coming up on a milestone birthday and realized that if I continued the not-so-healthy lifestyle I was living, I would most likely end up being a diabetic with high blood pressure and serious arthritic problems and at risk for some major heart concerns in a very short time. I’ve seen these health issues consume the lives of the previous generations of my family. If I didn’t change my attitude and my lifestyle, these diseases would be interfering with my life soon just as they did with my grandparents and now my parents. The problem: I was a content couch potato. I didn’t want to deal with my weight. I had convinced myself years ago that I couldn’t do anything about it even if I wanted to because exercise triggers my asthma and my lactose intolerance and sensitive stomach make it impossible for me to follow any of the popular diets available. Besides, I’d seen my father try what seemed like every diet known to man and if he was any indication – I knew that eventually, I was going to fail at it.
Then I came to the conclusion that "never trying" always ends badly – "trying" gave a spark of hope to avoid or at least temper the health problems to come in later years. If I want to live life to the full when I’m sixty and seventy – I have to put the effort in now. With that in mind, I walked into Curves three years ago convinced it was going to do no good, but at least I would then be able to say I tried. Twenty-five months later, and forty-two pounds lighter, I hit my goal weight. Not only did I learn to appreciate exercise (as long as I have my inhaler with me), but I also learned to make "healthier" choices with my food.
I had decided halfway through that I didn’t have to stop at my goal weight. If I lost an additional twenty pounds, I’d put myself in the appropriate weight range for my height and age. The plan was to take six months off from "trying" once I hit my goal weight to work at maintaining what I had achieved, and then I would work at losing the last twenty pounds. Over the six-month hiatus, I got lazy and stopped exercising. Oh, I came up with good excuses at first – I didn’t have to work as hard because I wasn’t trying to lose, just maintain. I don’t feel well, so I can skip today’s workout. I need to stay late at work. My church responsibilities are more important, so I need to skip the gym today. The healthy food went by the wayside as well – I don’t feel like cooking so I’ll order pizza. I don’t have time to go to the grocery store, so I’ll just stop in this fast food place. The result is that I’ve gained seven pounds and I’ve lost the motivation I once had to live healthier.
What can I learn about my faith life from this? Well, first, there was a definite lifestyle change that happened once I met Jesus. I gave up a few things and learned to look at other things differently. Each day became a new day to live and grow in faith, which requires that I put in some effort. And, as with the attempt at healthy living, I have slid into a low point in my spiritual life as well. I’ve started making excuses for why I’m putting off my quiet time with the Lord. I still check in with him, but I admit that I am doing most of the talking. Sometimes I tell myself that I am just too busy doing God’s work to be God’s work. I’m so busy doing things for the different ministries in which I’m involved, that I am not putting the effort into taking the time I need for him to grow and change me. Then of course, there are those ever-pressing errands I need to run and if I don’t take some time for my hobbies, I’ll never get around to them. I’ve unintentionally switched my priorities and time spent growing in our relationship has sunk way down to the bottom of the list. In the process, I’ve lost the momentum to get back into the disciplines I once enjoyed.
So what do I do about it? Well, I’m afraid there is only one answer – Just do it! Stop making excuses and put it back on top of the priority list. The motivation will come later. For now, I just need to take a step toward where I want to be. So I guess that means that tonight, I’m going to spend some time letting God talk to me for a change and tomorrow morning, I’ll be going to the gym before I do the other things I have planned for the day. That’s a start.
About the pictures
North Park (2002)