40 Days Lighter – Day 29: All it took was one choice…


These days I find myself repeatedly looking at my life with almost disbelief. In an incredibly short period of time, my life has changed in ways that I have struggled to make happen for years, to no avail. I began asking myself why I was unsuccessful all those times before and I came to one conclusion: I never decided to make the changes stick.

It’s a funny thing – we can be introduced to the best program for weight loss success, or a life-changing business opportunity, or find an open door to make our dreams come true – but until we decide that we want change, nothing happens. Everything remains the same.

I’ve tried losing weight because for external reasons – to be skinny like this person, or to fit some unreachable, unrealistic beauty standard, or simply because “everyone says you should do it”. In truth, even my doctors telling me I needed to lose the weight wasn’t enough for me to keep up my efforts after the first five pounds. 

I would get tired of the effort it took to keep making the necessary, daily choices to reach my goal – and this lack of conviction was manifesting in other areas of my life as well.

I wanted to write, but couldn’t keep up after a week or two, I’d get three chapters of a book out, but struggled to start chapter 4. I had even set up an entire website to start offering resume writing services, and just couldn’t hit publish, and when I finally published it, I wouldn’t share it, and eventually I just took it down. 

I had great ideas but I was yet to decide that I actually wanted to put in the work to make them real.

So I asked myself: What is different this time around?

I realized that I had one choice to make – 

1. Decide that I was happy with my life – my weight, my health, my work – just the way it was (which would have been a lie).

OR

2. Open myself to embracing a new way of life in order to change what made me unhappy.

I’m not saying that every unpleasant aspect of our lives can be altered by our individual choices. However, in my own life, I realized that most times, when I am unhappy, I have not exhausted all of my avenues to making it better. Instead, I’m sitting and sulking.

I refused to choose. I refused to choose action over inaction, trying over fear of failure, faith over doubt, peace over my right to be right, love over indifference.

And my choice to not choose left me feeling hopeless.

I’m grateful for the God-ordained conversation, kind words from an old friend that encouraged me to get serious about my life, and make changes.

All it took was one choice. And I’m pretty sure I made the right one this time!


40 Days Lighter – Day 25: Finding A God-Honoring Rhythm (Part 1)

 

Rest

If there were any two areas along this journey to becoming 40 days lighter with which I have genuinely struggled and truthfully feel like an utter failure, it would be in finding times of rest, and moments for self-care.

I am constantly on the go, if not in the care of our family, for work, if not for work, then for school, and the list goes on. Even when I attempt to build in moments of down time or quiet, I somehow find a way to fill the “gap” in my schedule with something else. It’s so easy to plan to just sit in silence so that I can find the words for my writing, yet as I’m passing the kitchen sink to put down my laptop, I have a “let me just do these dishes really quick” moment. And before I know it, I’m sweeping, then I’m cooking, and a host of other household tasks not related to my writing.

I have put the baby down for nap, saying this is a good moment to rest myself, or sit and read, and before I know it, I’ve grabbed my phone or laptop to take care of “one last thing”, which mysteriously transforms into 10 more things, and before I know it, the baby is up, blinking at me with those beautiful brown eyes. And I haven’t read a single page or slept a wink.

I have taught myself to see rest or downtime as “optional”, or a thing I do when I’ve taken care of everything else. 

And eventually I crash.

And I become irritable, unfocused, frustrated, overwhelmed, and overall, so tired it seeps into my bones. And I am forced to pause, because my body and mind refuse to go another step forward without recharging first.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun says, “Lack of adequate rest can ruin our families, damage our souls, even kill us. When we burn the candle at both ends we:

  • lose sight of what we enjoy in our work
  • find even the things we enjoy doing become a chore
  • fail to give people the gift of our attention and presence
  • impair our ability to hear God’s voice and discern his movement in our lives
  • become obsessive about the to-do list
  • lose touch with the human limits that are meant to keep us in touch with God

This last point struck me to my core.

When I neglect my need for rest and forget about my limitations as a human being, I lose touch with God. Could it be that to reject rest, is to see ourselves as wiser than God – since even He has given us a model for work and rest by doing so Himself?

I will close with this, and invite you to join me in reflection – and repentance if you find yourself rejecting rest as well:

“God created us in his image. He is a God who works and then rests. When we rest, we honor the way God made us. Rest can be a spiritual act – a truly human act of submission to and dependence on God who watches over all things as we rest.”

~ Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us

 

40 Days Lighter – Day 22: Prepared for Purpose (Part 2)

Us

Robert Mulholland suggest that spiritual formation is about being transformed into the image of Christ “for the sake of others.”

Sharing our lives with others is always a risk. Authenticity, interdependence, and being known come with a cost. But the alternative to paying the cost of living a one-another life is to live cut off from God. By appropriately opening ourselves to each other in the presence of Christ we discover ways to “lay down our lives for our friends.” We learn how to become safe people who bring God’s welcoming embrace to others.

Excerpts from Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us      

by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

Yesterday I started talking about being in a time of preparation. I mentioned our tendency to “think that one day we will magically arrive, like Cinderella in her pumpkin-turned-coach, at our place of purpose, instantaneously transformed” into the successful visionary we dream to become. Since fairy godmothers don’t really exist, it is fair to say that there is work to do on our part!

Yet the question remains – for what are we preparing? Some will answer that question by describing their future business, others have a vivid picture of a thriving family in mind. Still others hope to achieve academic success and other accolades or renown in their chosen field.

Ultimately, the greatest calling we ALL have on our lives, is to share this gift of life with someone else. Today, I had a small moment of transparency, that resulted in a variety of responses and reactions. Being vulnerable with those close to us can be a challenge by itself, never mind being open to “whoever will” in digital/online/virtual spaces.

Yet in my moment of pulling back the curtain for a brief moment, revealing my humanity (because I, like many, sometimes suffer from super-mom, super-wife, super-woman syndrome), I found strength in the very place from which we usually hide – I found strength in community. I was reminded that I was not the only one on this journey to discover identity, purpose, worth, value, beauty, and the list goes on. In the process I was brought to tears by those who having read my story, began to prepare themselves to tell their own.

I became aware that as I drop the weight, literally and metaphorically, as I declutter my physical, mental and emotional spaces, as I deal with the dirt under the carpet and the skeletons in the closet, moving out what does not belong – I am making room.

I am making room for community, for fellowship, for true sisterhood, genuine relationships, honest dialogue, and wholehearted, hand in hand forward movement in life.

And I am embracing this preparation process with open arms!