Fat Bodies and Flabby Souls (February 20, 2019)
Dear VICC family,
Let the funeral dirge begin. I’m 39. A year away from 40. It’s all over now. Remember me as I was! …Ok. Just kidding. I am 39 now, but it’s probably not going to be that bad…except for the fact that my wife yanked a white hair out of my beard last night.
Now that I’m beginning to accept that I’m not 25 anymore, one of the things I’ve realized I need to pay more attention to is my health. Gone is the svelt, 20-something mountain biker, and in his place stands (or, more often than is good for me, sits…) a tired, almost forty-year-old, dad. A dad who, when his mountain bike was stolen a decade ago, never replaced it, and his body bears the consequences. And so, one of the things I have been doing in the last few weeks is making and attending appointments. I went to the dentist, which I have never been good at. I got a new doctor and went to see him for a physical. The dentist told me I need to floss. The doctor told me I was fat. So I have been flossing every night, believe it or not. And I have downloaded a calorie-counting app. And now I am trying to figure out how to make “the care and keeping of the middle-aged male body” a hobby.
The first day I had the calorie-counting app I was amazed at how much detail it goes into. I breaks down what I eat not only into calories, but into carbs, fats, and proteins. And beyond that, on another screen, it lists all the different kinds of fat I have eaten. It separates the sugar from the complex carbohydrates. It tallies my fiber and potassium. And all this information added up to one thing: When it comes to how I eat, I do almost everything…wrong. When I showed this to Nichole, she gave me a piece of brilliant advice. Instead of just jumping in and trying to nail all my scores, I should eat normally for a few days and learn what my normal diet is actually like. Learn what I do right and what I do wrong. Learn what the foods I gravitate to contain, and how they pile onto one another as I go through the day. After about a day of this I was already making changes. I had seen enough. But that doesn’t mean I am nailing it, either.
What I am learning is that self-care is a process. Healthy physical improvements find their parallel in healthy spiritual improvements. No one goes from couch-potato to triathlete in one day, powered only by “faith” and “freewill.” Aside from the occasional miracle, no one gives up an addiction in a moment, either. No one succeeds perfectly in their first try, not even the lady with the book deal who claims she did. Similarly, none of us go from hardened sinner to compassionate saint in a single leap. God may give us boosts and kickstarts. We may experience a powerful infilling of the Holy Spirit that seems to break chain after chain. But Monday still happens, and so does Tuesday. Drivers on the freeway are still rude, and the things of this world that do us no good are still attractive and enjoyable. Physical or spiritual, growth in health is a process.
Let me challenge you this week to sit down and read the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Yes, the whole thing. And in one sitting. It’s only about four pages in your average Bible, and it speaks a lot to this process of spiritual growth. In James 1:23-25 we are told that the Bible is a like a mirror we hold up to see what we really look like. Another metaphor might be that the Bible is like this app I am using, breaking things down for me deeper than I might be used to, showing me how I am doing, and pointing me in the way I need to be headed. It’s not always comfortable information, but if I am learning to align my goals with the goals I am presented, it is actually pretty inspiring.
“But this one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…” (Philippians 3:13b-14a, NIV).
Your partner on the journey,