Sunday, February 24, 2013

Convicted for the Millionth Time

I am so dense and God is so patient.  Apparently I need big Aha! moments to hear God speaking to me.  

That happened at Mass today.  Alexander was actually being quiet for five minutes as we stuffed his mouth full of oyster crackers and I was able to hear the whole second reading:


Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.
For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.”
Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters,whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord.

Most people probably tend to focus on the glorified body part of this reading, as I usually do.  But today, the parts that seemed as if they were shouted at me were "Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their "shame".  Their minds are occupied with earthly things."  

You guys, I am the "their".

Aha!!!!!!!!!

Tomorrow is my birthday, and while I enjoy feeling loved and having a special day, I really have a hard time with getting older.  I will be 34 years old, but more than that, I will have a 10 year old son.  

I gave birth to John-Paul on my 24th birthday, induced a month early and because my gallbladder needed to be removed.  After 8 months of sickness and terrible pain, the doctors finally figured out the problem.  John-Paul was deemed big enough to be born, and since I couldn't keep any food or water down at the end, the best plan of action was to deliver him early.  

My labor lasted 36 long hours and it wasn't until his head was crowning that I realized he and I would share a birthday.  What a gift!  I was such a young girl to become a mother at 24, but it was all I ever wanted.  

My body bounced back quickly after the labor and surgery (thank God for youth), but it was never the same.  I had a scar from the incision to remove the gallbladder and three small scars where they had inserted the other instruments to do the laparoscopic procedure.  I also had stretch marks and loose skin from the pregnancy.

Phil says my stretch marks are battle wounds that I proudly won when my body held and delivered 5 gorgeous babies, and I know he's right, but my struggle to look "good" started to overwhelm me.  Having four babies in five years didn't help the situation, and while I never developed any sort of eating disorder (through God's graces) I did focus way too much on my belly.  I've never worn a bikini in my life, and I never will, but I wanted to be able to wear pants without the dreaded muffin top.  I get discouraged by the models and actresses who become mommies but still look like girls.

The older I've gotten and matured (I hope) I realized that the importance of exercise for me was more of a mental health benefit than a physical health benefit.  I honestly do workout to be healthy and get rid of stress and anxiety.  But I do not enjoy getting older or seeing more wrinkles in the reflection squinting back at me.  I put too much thought and effort into wanting to be a certain size or fit into my old clothes.  So every once in a while, I use an excuse (like Lent) to drop weight.  This Lent we gave up sweets and started eating less gluten and more veggies.  As I stepped on the scale each morning, I realized the thrill of losing pounds was the real reason I was eating this way.  I wasn't giving glory to God.  I wasn't sacrificing something good to bring me closer to Jesus Christ at all.  I was on a diet disguised as a Lenten sacrifice.

There is nothing wrong with someone (healthfully) dieting to lose weight or someone (honestly) working out to get in shape, but when vanities and pride get the better of me, I need a big Aha! moment to see it.  

The other morning I was in the bathroom about to take a shower and had to force myself not to step on the scale.  But as soon as that shower was done, I couldn't resist the temptation and had to see the numbers.  

Step away from the scale.

I told Phil, if I am truly going to sacrifice sweets and pleasurable food for Lent for the right reasons, then we needed to hide the scale until Easter.  Or maybe forever.  God was already starting to work on my heart, and then the second reading today just confirmed it.  

If only their was a soul-scale where I could see how I measured up in God's eyes and keep my focus on improving that number!  But God doesn't work like that.   He doesn't care how much I weigh or how far I run.  He cares about my soul.  I may never get that glorified pre-baby body back, but I will get a glorified body for all of eternity if only I can live my life in such a way to get to Heaven. 

21 comments:

  1. Dang girl, this is fabulous. Thank you.

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  2. Hiding the scale sounds like a great idea this lent. My sacrifice this year is not food related but might in these early postpartum weeks keep me focused on appreciating the needed changes pregnancy and nursing brings.

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  3. Colleen, I had the same thoughts today! Seriously. We were almost late for mass because I could not find anything to wear and felt gross in everything. It was kind of not rational! I heard that second reading and immediately realized how ridiculous I was to make us all late because I don't look awesome!

    Hiding the scale would be a huge sacrifice. I sort of use it to gage how I am doing. If I start to gain, I throttle back, IT helps keep me in line, but as you said, it it because a god of sorts, it might be good to give it up for a time! Great post!

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  4. Hi,

    I found your blog a few months ago. I recognize you and your husband from Steubenville, I graduated in 2001. I really enjoy what you write. I meant to comment a few weeks ago when you wrote about being open to life in your own family and today's post really strikes me too. I am pregnant with #6 quite unexpectantly and when I was kind of hoping to be done having kids. :) It's been 20 weeks but still having trouble accepting it because I don't like pregnancy at all. One of the things I hate the most is that I gain a lot of weight, about 50-60lbs when pregnant. Doesn't seem to matter what I do or don't do, I gain the same and it's hard for me when I also struggle with body issues and wanting to look a certain way (even while pregnant!) and fit into my old clothes and blah, blah. I lose the weight each time but hate gaining it and age hasn't helped with this because I wasn't quite where I wanted to be before getting pregnant so I'm struggling again with a bigger weight gain than I've ever had. I know God has a lesson in all of it for me and I'm working on it. It's not easy and I spend more time than not really hating my body right now and dreading what I'll look like in another 20 weeks. Yikes. Anyway, just wanted to say I can totally relate to what you say!

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  5. Also, I have given up sweets and also realized I do it because it's a way to get me to diet and I feel good about the weight loss. I've also given up the scale but not in the same year. Might be good to do both! I didn't do a food sacrifice this year because I know I have no will power when pregnant but do feel I need to change my attitude before giving up sweets again in the future.

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  6. Thank you, Colleen... this post was so well-written, but even better was how strongly it spoke to me. After my 4babies in 5years, I am physically a mess, and with years and years of self image problems, I've been having a tough time. Last weekend i received some "friendly advice" that had me crying on the scale all week. My daily prayer these days has been for the grace to change my physical health for God's glory, and accept the physical parts that are His design for that same glory. If that makes sense... anyway, thanks for the biblibal boost :-)

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  7. i loved reading your post today. I haven't stepped on the scale in months just for this reason. I feel mentally healthier than before even though I have no idea where my wieght is right now. Glad you got your "aha" moment. =)

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  8. Colleen,
    I had to stop stepping on the scale after I did the detox. While on the detox the weight flew off, but more importantly I felt so much better, but I got so fixed on the number on the scale and the fact that I wanted it to keep on going down. It was then that I knew I just had to put it away for good. I did not want my healthy eating and my workouts to become part of my obsession to lose weight. I needed to do it only because it is healthy and I felt better.

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  9. OH, you are getting wise in your old age. (hee hee) I'm like 9 1/2 years older than you. That being said, I have no wrinkles but DO have dark circles and some gray strands of straggly hair...I didn't probably like aging when I was in my 30's, but now, in my 40's --I LOVE it. I miss being young, because I feel young. But I love being the age I am. I have wanted to write about it off and on, but have not yet. I think throwing out the scale is a really good thing for you to do. (hard too) I'm proud of you. I love how you are always trying (struggling) to be a better person inside and out. You are beautiful. That's why so many of us can relate to you. (the struggling part, not the beautiful part)

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  10. Beautiful post Colleen. :)
    I think you need to give yourself more credit than you deserve and wish you could see yourself for how beautiful you really are on the outside and inside.
    I'd definitely suggest throwing out the scale completely. Numbers are useless and make you obsess over the wrong things.

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  11. Babe, you are not alone . . . as soon as I heard "their God is their stomach" I felt like the Holy Spirit came and whacked me with the Word. All I could think was "Sound familiar?!?!"

    Great post. :)

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  12. Thanks for this post. I'm struggling similarily at my house. I'm having a hard time discerning the difference between vanity and wanting to look better and the real true sin of glutteny (sugar and diet coke) truely hindering my relationship with Him. Its a constant battle that I've lifted up in prayer for years.

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  13. This was such a great post..it totally resonated with me. I really struggle with this as well. I have a really hard time with the weight gain involved in pregnancy. It is my least favorite part, because for me, the weight does not just "come off" after birth or while breastfeeding. I always have to diet to lose weight, and dieting with a young baby, when you are already short on sleep and nursing round the clock and all that, totally sucks. I go through times when I totally get obsessed with the scale as well. One thing that does help me, is that I don't have a digital scale anymore..it's just a regular scale (not sure what it's called). We used to have a digital scale, but then the batteries ran out and we never replaced it and I noticed that with the non-digital scale I am so much less obsessed, probably because the digital scale measured to the tenth of a pound, while my regular one doesn't, so you can't really see small gains or losses..it's more the "big picture" over time. That has forced me to only weight myself every week, instead of every day.

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  14. I decided not to give up food this year for that same reason; I can never tell if it's a sacrifice or if I'm secretly glad I'm losing weight. I decided to go the "betterment" route this year and try to improve where I'm lacking. Which is almost everywhere. Except making beds... I'm pretty good at that.

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  15. I know - I have been doing that too - truth be told, I have known it and have also tried not to weigh myself daily, but have failed - so you have set me on track to God - no scale - at least not daily for me right now....(baby #5 weight is super hard to come off and I am 3 yrs older then you!)
    Thx!

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  16. Great post and thanks for your honest telling of what many of us do! The question now is - can I weigh myself one last time before I put it away? :-)

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  17. This is so wonderful and honest! Thanks for sharing and reminding us all what's really important, no matter how hard it is for girls sometimes!

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  18. Straight to the heart sister!

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  19. You are so amazing. I can relate to this post more than anything. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  20. Hi Colleen! Great post. We went to school together and you are soooo familiar. I just clicked on your blog by chance from the "New Evangelists Monthly". Did you graduate in 2001? I saw that you were in Austria in Spring of 00. I was there in Fall of 99 so we would have not been together for a year. But it looks like otherwise we were there at the same time for 3 years! What a small world.

    Again- this is a great post. You managed to put into words what so many of us are thinking and could never write! Peace be with you!

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