Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable. It’s not supposed to be utterly miserable and joyless. (Like the Christian life, right?) How does exercise become miserable? It’s supposed to be a way to enjoy God’s World, wonder at God’s hand in creation, in creating your body, and making you to serve Him with your whole being. It’s not supposed to be miserable, but it became miserable, because I missed a vital part of what exercise is.
For me exercise started to = calories burned/food earned. I obsessed over numbers. I did calculations in my head. I was in bondage to these numbers, these calculations, this food ‘earning.’ It was miserable.
It wasn’t exciting like this husky PLUNGING down the hill just because they love it, because God created them to do it.
Isn’t that ironic when I’ve already received the greatest gift that I can never repay?
Salvation isn’t earned. It’s a gift of God. It’s the greatest gift. God loved us because He loved us. There wasn’t anything in us that merited His love, so why did I start to place a ‘merits’ system on myself when it came to food, which is so small compared to the AWESOME gift of salvation?
I was forgetting the ultimate gift of God, Christ Jesus, who had already set me free from this tormenting fear. (Romans 6:23, 1 John 4:18)
Why would I act as if food is something I had to earn, as if I had to gain a ‘fit body’ in order to be able to enjoy God’s gifts?
God made my body to need calories, physical nourishment, and most of all soul nourishment from His Word, and these are His gifts.
What did I have to realize before I stopped connecting exercise with burning calories (instead of enjoying using my body for God’s glory and enjoying His World and spending time in quiet reflection on His goodness and love.)?
I had to realize:
1. We can’t depend on ourselves. We have to depend on God who made the food and made us to enjoy Him in enjoying His gift of food.
2. Man doesn’t create food, and it doesn’t come about by random chance. It’s a gift from God. I didn’t treat it like that. I didn’t stop and thank the Giver of the gifts. Instead, my mind and life was consumed by the gifts. It was like getting a Christmas present from my parents and spending the whole time gazing at the present instead of thanking my parents for their love in the giving of the gift.
3. We need food to live. We need the calories to sustain our bodies as God’s temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). That’s the way God made us, and I had to realize that before I began to appreciate it as God’s gift, not something to be feared.
4. For 15 years, I ate, not thinking about having to do an extra hour of exercise in order to earn my food. Re-learning God’s unconditional love for me was what guided me back to the fact that I didn’t have to earn my food. I could enjoy it and PRAISE God for it without being anxious about ‘eating too many calories’ because it was a gift, not an enemy.
If God gave the greatest gift of salvation to us, why would I think I could try to ‘earn’ the far smaller gift of food? That changed when I got sucked in by the fitness industry and started to worship the ‘creature’ instead of the Creator. God ALWAYS completes His good work in us. His promises are ‘yea and amen,’ and even if you don’t realize it right away, He’s a loving Father that keeps shepherding us back to the truth of how beautiful it is to worship Him, not His food.
In Hebrews 12, the author talks about how God chastens those whom He loves. I really believe that my eating disorder and struggles with putting my body and food and exercise over my relationship with God was His loving chastisement to guide me back to Him.
6. Last but not least, I had to learn that God is sovereign over everything including my body and food. If I don’t believe that God is sovereign over everything, that He takes care of the sparrows, that He knows every hair on my head, that His love is EVERLASTING, that He will bind up the brokenhearted, that NOTHING can separate me from His love even if I fall, that He will purify me, and when He sees me, He sees Christ, not the filthiness. Christ covers me, and in Him I’m clean, so I can’t be in torment anymore. (Matthew 6:26, Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Luke 12:7, Matthew 10:30)
What does all that mean? It means that when I go to a restaurant I shouldn’t be anxious about ‘eating too many calories’ because God’s plan is perfect. It means that if I eat some ice cream, I shouldn’t be worried that I’ll gain ten pounds. Instead I should trust in the Master of the Boat. I shouldn’t trust in my emotions that go UPPPP and DOWNNN…. God remains the same, even if I don’t.
Remember Romans 8:1, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’
You aren’t condemned. Even if your heart condemns you after a meal, ignore it. God is greater than your heart. Focus on Him and His love. His love grips you. It’s not your love that keeps you safe. It’s His love for you, and His love for you, even if you feel SO weak, will only seem greater and bigger.
In every step of this journey, His grace will grow bigger in your eyes. You will see how God provides for you and you didn’t have to think a ‘wink’ about it.
It’s a journey. This life is just a ‘step’ in the journey. Don’t fear, because He is with you. Be of good cheer. He has overcome the world. (John 16:33.)
Even if you are fighting, remember who is your Captain. He won’t ever let you go, even when the battle grows FIERCE.
Here’s the thing… You don’t earn gifts. They’re gifts. Go ahead and enjoy God’s gifts and give thanks to the Lord and Maker who gave every single one of them to you to show His glory, grace, and love.
With that let’s talk about some of the foods I’m enjoying lately that I think you would enjoy… 🙂 The flavors God makes are so delish.
Have you tried any of the granola recipes from my ‘Sunday Morning Granola Recipe Round-up?’ If not, I think you should. There is cookie dough, chocolate, strawberry, apple, and even a winter spice granola recipe. I’ve made 3 of the recipes so far, and I think I’m on a roll to make more this week.
Which is your favorite flavor of Wild Friends?
Have you ever looked at food as something to be ‘earned’ instead of something your body was made to ‘need?’
How do you enjoy food and enjoy exercise but not obsess over either?
What is your favorite workout to ENJOY (not be miserable)?