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".
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.