A few years ago, after sharing my heart with a counselor-type friend, she turned to me, looked intently into my eyeballs and said in an authoritative therapist voice,
“What does Julie need?”
I think the answer she was looking for was perhaps along the lines of, “Freedom from this particular sin struggle…” or “To have a more intimate relationship with my husband…” or “To grow in wisdom.”
But instead I responded with, “30 minutes on the treadmill, 3 times a week.”
I’m a little embarrassed to admit the shallowness of my response, but I guess you could say that this small pocket of exercise had become something really important to me and my emotional/physical well-being.
Then about 8 weeks ago I hurt my knees pushing it too hard on said beloved treadmill and in order to preserve my ability to walk, I declared a fast from exercise so that they could heal.
And, ironically, at about the same time my knees were injured, life just seemed to get 5 steps crazier and I do not even understand how I fit 30 minutes of treadmill time, 3 times a week, into my schedule before.
This has been quite difficult for me as the healing process has been slow and unfortunately, without some exercise, my body has changed a bit over the last 2 months. The things that were semi-flabby are now very flabby and my pants are snug and I am running out of ‘flowy’ shirt options, if you know what I mean.
It has been REALLY tempting in this state, for me to get discouraged. To let the fact that I am uncomfortable until I can get home and put on stretchy yoga pants make me grouchy. The voice of condemnation says I’m not working hard enough, it’s all my fault somehow, I’m ugly and not good enough and should just accept it and buy new pants.
And then that little annoying voice also reminds me about it being swimsuit season – UGH.
But here is the good news that I have felt the Lord whisper in my ear the past couple of days –
There is grace for this.
I am in a season. I’m not giving up on making healthy choices. I try my best to eat good food and not have too many accidents with that Costco-sized bag of chocolate chips in the pantry. I know that summer is coming and maybe my knees will finally be ready to gradually get back into some kind of workout plan.
Somewhere along the way, though, that exercise time had become a little too important to me as I discovered how my identity – my beauty and worth was all wrapped up in the thing I thought I ‘needed’ so much.
I think the Lord gently uses situations like mine to remove the idols of my heart so that I can remain steadfast even if my knees are not treadmill ready ever.
Because perfect bodies don’t exist.
I’m holding my body and my schedule out before the Lord as it encourages me to do in Romans 12:1 and I am trusting that He is pleased with me and the ways I am choosing to spend my time in this season.
I need to teach, I need to serve my kids and hubby, and sometimes life just has a mind of its own.
Like the day I wrote this post. I had planned to come home from work that day, change clothes, and hit the treadmill for the first time in 2 months. But on the way home I got rear-ended at a red light, spent an hour talking with the police, came home, made a few insurance-related calls, cooked dinner, bathed the boys, rocked Happy Baby to sleep because he was in the car with me and needed some extra love and comfort, read to Happy Buddy, drove to Walgreens to pick up some antibiotics for Happy Buddy who has a double ear infection, washed the lunchpails for tomorrow, went outside to admire the hubs’ hard work of installing gutters around the outside of the house, and then made him dinner.
Then at 10 pm I sat down with the hubs to watch Gilmore Girls and blog instead of exercise because I felt that one of you needed this message.
Perhaps one of you had a baby recently and are overwhelmed with the responsibilities and you’re frustrated with the extra baby weight but you think that even if someone put a treadmill in front of you, you would fall asleep on it. Or maybe you’re in a super busy season like me and waking up at 4 am to go for a jog is just not practical (nor is it good for your sanity). Or maybe you have an injury too. Or maybe your metabolism just isn’t what it once was.
Whatever the reason, dear sisters, take heart.
We do not give up on striving to maintain healthy and strong bodies, but ultimately, we don’t let guilt keep us from remembering what is most important.
You are beautiful because of Jesus.
You are beautiful because you choose to exude HIS joy no matter how you feel.
That confident smile of yours is what people will remember – not that little bulge at the pants button.
And heaven… Heaven doesn’t have metabolism issues or bummed out knees or treadmills.
That is what
Julie needs we all need. <3
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits for this life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
(Hey there, sweet friends! I would love it if you would stop by Happy Home Fairy again tomorrow for a GIANT Summer Giveaway that I am unbelievably excited about. See you then!)
Julie, I so needed this post! Thank you for reminding me to give myself grace! I had a baby 9 months ago and am exhausted and not ready for swimsuit season. :). I hope your knees feel better soon!!!!
Once again you blessed me beyond words. I am almost 7 months pregnant with my 2nd wonderful child and my body has changed much more than with my first. It is a season of focusing on making sure that beautiful baby grows but that lil voice gets in the way sometime reminding me how I once looked. Thank you for your words, thank you Lord for your grace.
Happy Home Fairy
Thank you, Grace, for your sweet words! And praise God for what He is doing in your body right now! He is making a human in that belly of yours! What a miracle! I love that you are choosing to focus on the good work He is doing in you. Don’t worry about your body – it is a sacrifice to the Lord to bring forth life. What a tremendous honor and privilege. You are absolutely beautiful.
This grace sounds lovely. Except my hubby isn’t buying it.
Happy Home Fairy
Tyna, I’m so sorry you feel that there is pressure on you to look a certain way. We must find the healthy balance of honoring our husbands and taking care of our bodies, but ultimately, our identity and worth are not in what size pants we wear. Jesus’ love spurs us on to show the same grace and kindness to others. You are precious in His sight, Tyna!
and you were beautiful singing in the worship team this morning! what a blessing to see the holy spirit shine through you.
After I finished your post, and the sobbing subsided and I dried my tears, I realized that God met me for coffee this morning. Thank you for taking the time to write this. God knew I needed to be reminded and He used you to do it!
Thanks so much for your encouragement. I need it today! God bless you!
Ughhh….my forever battle but MUCH MORE since my 2nd M was born! Mostly bc of my schedule & age but I’m still determined to do something abt it….someday! I might be giving myself too much grace…lol. thinking things will get better as the little one gets older & is in school full-time to allow me more time to deal with this!! Thank you for sharing your soul…I think you are beautiful & I NEVER notice a bulge anywhere on you!! xo
Thank you so much! You’re right! One of us out here needed to hear this today! My pants all have elastic waists. . . and I don’t have the energy to be a size 8 right now. When I exercise, it makes me feel great, but the weight isn’t coming off. Thanks for the words of encouragement!
I so needed to hear this today….up until this past week, I hadn’t exercised in a few months, and I’m carrying a nagging extra 5 pounds that make my pants snug, my tummy rounder, and my insecurities way more intense than usual. I need that daily reminder that I’m NOT defined by what the scales say or how my clothes may fit! Thank you for sharing this!
Well… this was for me. I just had a baby 2 months ago and was just tonight crying about my post-baby body. Thanks Julie for the encouragement!!
I did need that today! Thank you.
Thank you so much for writing this. I was just praying tonight about my struggles with weight. Your encouragement in this was perfectly-timed! Praise be to God for prompting you to write it, and thank you for doing so. May you and yours be blessed today!
I have been following your blog for year, but this is the first time that I have ever left a comment. Although your posts are ALWAYS inspirational, this one hit the nail on the head for me. Just 3 weeks ago, I was racing my students during recess and tore my calf muscle. As an avid runner, this is a nightmare. In the last 3 weeks, I have struggled emotionally (and physically). I am frustrated and ready to crawl out of my skin! I use physical activity as a release for stress. I DO NOT think it is a coincidence that you are going through a similar trial. THANK YOU for reminding me to “be still”. There are more important things than walking without crutches; my husband is healthy, my kids are healthy, my parents and in laws are healthy. I have food on my table and a roof over my head. I WILL walk again, just not now. For now, I will use this time to listen and give Him all the glory when my trial is over. Thank you!
I appreciate you sharing your weight issue. I struggle with mine as well. I was wondering if you would say the books you read that helped you with eating? I looked through old posts and can’t seem to find the names. I like the verse “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheth me.” I need remember it myself with my struggle maybe it will help you as well.