September 16, 2013

A giver-upper in a do-or-die world

Wow, I can hardly believe it's been eight months since I last posted *anything* on this here blog. About a year ago, life changed quite a bit for me, so much that I feared life would not be normal again. Alas, normalcy reappeared, and here I am post-summer, with excitement for the upcoming heat relief and all that a new year will bring.

I wrote about my ongoing battle to fight overeating and losing weight almost two years ago. Many of the heart issues and struggles described then are still present today, though in much smaller ways. I don't obsess about food the way I have historically; I've made some drastic changes to my activity level; I'm eating almost entirely primal/paleo-style (no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no legumes); and most importantly, I continue to see the scale drop and the clothing loosen up. It's a great feeling!

Just before the cool air blows through in North Texas, though, I have started to hear the doubts, fears, and lies trickle in slowly. I celebrated 22 pounds lost last week, a great achievement in just under three months; what an exhilarating experience! I'm currently the smallest, healthiest, and strongest version of me that I've been in at least 7 years. Truly, maybe longer than that short span.

But after sharing the news with my best supporters, I start to hear the doubts creep in: "It's really not that much, you still have so far to go." Ouch, that popped my bubble for sure. Then, not long after that slam, I hear: "You are going to gain it all back." AH! I had a dream where I was standing on my bathroom scale and watching the numbers increase up and up back to my original weight. That'll get a girl's heart rate up first thing in the morning! The big lie came just a few days ago: "Try all you will, you'll never be skinny/pretty/thin/strong enough for any man." What a way to cut a single girl's heart deep.

I recognize these doubts, fears, and lies very plainly. I live in community with other believers and a strong family support system that won't let me believe that crap. Thank the great Lion of Judah for them!

You know what's in my heart, though? The desire to believe those ridiculous statements and to feel justified if/when I give up on all the hard work. Confession, y'all: I'm a chronic giver-upper in many ways.

I don't think an outsider, or even someone in that strange group of "not quite a friend, not quite a stranger" people would say I give up on things. My career is not exactly what I initially dreamed up, but it's a wonderful position at a very successful company. Six and half years and all seems great!

My family's idea of me consists mostly of a girl that has worked hard to get through school and extracurriculars, only to come out of the other side with a great job and a few awesome traveling experiences under my belt. Those things aren't untrue, they're just not the full picture.

Those with the greatest insight into the real Angela are also the ones who show the greatest grace. My best friends and my sisters have seen the side of me that many don't, and thank God that they have stuck with me through it. The truth remains: I am a giver-upper.

The list of failed projects could go on for days and I won't waste your time with it. My sweet sister watched me cycle through many aspirations while we lived together; I had the boxes of half-made crafts and unread books to tell the story well enough. She shed some light on the problem, persuaded me to let go of possessions that might have meant more to me if I had done anything useful with them. Diets, workout plans, volunteering with causes, rigid daily devotional plans, this blog...all half-done and with no motivation or desire to return to them.

This is an echo of a much deeper character flaw of mine: I'm looking for the thrill of a challenge, but struggle to keep up in the day-to-day rhythm of consistent work.

Fear grips me when my mind wonders long enough to imagine all the ways this will wreck my life: giving up on the hard workouts after my six-month plan is up at the end of the year. Marriage, kids, making and keeping a home, pushing through the dry days as I seek to feed my soul. My days of self-apathy are far away, but it too echoes every once in awhile, "You don't deserve those things. You will fail and disappoint so many."

This is where my sweet friend Jesus steps onto the scene, and puts those lies and fears to shame. He's unfolding an epic story that he's asked me to play a part in, and won't have me waddling in failure and fear. He calls me out of the desert and to the river of Living Water. He alone quenches my longing for thrill and adventure when he says:

But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:8-10)

The most lovely words a giver-upper can hear, when humbled before the Lord with hands full of failure and lack of resolve: "I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

When those lies sneak in, or I'm tempted with my own desire to give up, or when someone unintentionally tempts me to cave, I wave this banner of truth in my mind: the Creator took us from the ends of the earth and called us His. He has not cast us off, when that's what we deserve. He promises to strengthen, help, and uphold us through every detail of His epic. 

I can't wait to see the story unfold.

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