Two and a half weeks ago I set out on a journey to change my life. I’ve been posting a picture a day on social media and writing a short, daily journal/blog post detailing a weight loss journey that will span the course of a year.
My friends and family have been a huge support thus far, and many of them have commented that my transparency is inspiring them to start or continue their own transformational journeys.
But, like all people, there are still things I’ve been too afraid to share, ugly truths that are so shameful I’ve found a way to keep them VERY well hidden.
But this journey is about transformations that are far more significant than just losing weight. In fact, I believe that shedding the pridefulness that worships self-preservation is one way to ensure the most beautiful kind of transformation – one that surrenders all my insecurities to Christ so that He can begin to reign in my heart more fully than I have ever allowed Him to before.
So get ready. I’m about to share all of the ugly truths that finally pushed me to start this beautiful transformation
A BLANKET NAMED SOPHIE
Try your hardest not to judge me. This is my blanket.
Or, more correctly, this WAS my blanket up until VERY recently.
This blanket is the perfect visual aid to summarize the pathetic state I was in just prior to starting this journey.
I’m a keeper, you see, an emotional keeper. What does that mean? It means I keep things because they are meaningful to me and because certain things become so much more than just THINGS, they become a part of who I am.
Exhibit A: my blanket.
This blanket is the most comfortable, most perfect blanket I have ever had the pleasure of sleeping under. It’s stained, it’s discolored, it’s worn, and about two months ago, it started to tear down one seam.
When I first noticed the tear, I told myself I needed to sew that up before it became an even bigger problem, but, because I’m a procrastinator, I did nothing. And the tear turned into a rip which turned into a gaping whole which lead to…well, what you see in the picture.
Any sane person would have thrown the blanket away when the tear first started leaking fluff all over the place.
But I couldn’t.
All I could see was…
The first time I’d brought it home – a sign that I was arriving because this blanket was really expensive and being able to afford expensive things was a mark of financial success.
The first time I made love with my husband in our very first “marriage bed” in our very first apartment as newlyweds, a joy greater than any I’d known up until that point.
The first time I’d snuggled up with my newborn baby girl to breastfeed her, terrified I was doing it wrong, comforted by its warmth and familiarity.
Doing the same exact thing with my other two children.
All of the late nights I stayed up typing in bed as I wrote my Master’s thesis, propping it under both legs to keep my feet from falling asleep.
All the times I’d snuggled up inside it and fallen asleep begging the Lord to bring my husband home safe from work.
All the times I’d hidden myself under it and wailed deep sobs of loneliness and hurt after a gnarly fight with Andrew.
All of the sleepless nights during pregnancy that seemed only to be soothed by the comfort of this one thing – my blanket.
So, to me, throwing this blanket away meant turning my back on the most important, most impactful, most special moments of my adult life.
And I just couldn’t do it.
CHANGED INTO HIS IMAGE by JIM BERG
About four months ago, my husband and I started a teeny tiny bible study with some close friends of ours. We’ve been going through a book called Changed Into His Image by Jim Berg.
It’s a phenomenal book.
Berg does an amazing job of walking his readers through the biblical change process, starting with a brutally honest portrayal of the factors which prevent us from surrendering our hearts to the Lord – all those sinful excuses we make to maintain our rebelliousness in ways that are so nuanced we often don’t even realize we are making them.
In chapter two, entitled Recognizing the Evil Within, Berg explains that the heart of man “is in constant conflict with the Spirit of God and represents everything within us that attempts to make life work apart from God (p. 25).”
He follows this up with one of the most impactful statements I have ever read:
“The toxicity of the heart is so potent that when God wants to judge a man, all He has to do is turn that man over to his own heart. What a frightening thought! You and I have enough evil residing in us that if God were to let us have our own way, we would destroy ourselves. Rather than demanding ow own way, we ought to be begging God never to let us have what our flesh demands. We ought to pray, ‘Dear God, limit me, bind me, restrict me. Do whatever you have to, but please don’t let me have my own way (p. 42).”
Let that sink in for just a bit.
I couldn’t (and still can’t) get away from the pride-shattering impact of those words.
Although I responded to them in the way I (to my shame) respond to all convicting circumstances – with stubbornness and procrastination – the Lord continued to faithfully reinforce their truth over and over again in my life, until I could escape them no longer.
1 CORINTHIANS 9:27 – I DISCIPLINE MY BODY
One of those ways was through my quiet time with Him.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – God’s timing is perfect.
A couple of months before I started this journey, I’d started a reading plan that began in Romans and would conclude in Revelation.
About three weeks ago, my reading lead me to 1 Corinthians 9:27, in which Paul states:
“But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Discipline? Slave? Disqualified?
I thought about it long and hard and was ashamed to admit (first to myself, then to Andrew) that my life wasn’t even remotely marked by self-discipline, and my body certainly wasn’t MY slave. No, the reverse was true. I was a slave to my body – to its wants, to its comforts, to its desires, to its moods and limitations. My body was my master, not the other way around.
And that was just the beginning.
THE UGLINESS OF UGLINESS
As the seeds of that truth began to bloom in my heart, some other, really embarrassing things started coming to light as well.
On the relational side, I began to realize that my self-worship was the catalyst for most of the conflict in my marriage. This past year was a hard one for me and Andrew. Just after our third child was born, he got a promotion at work which meant MUCH more time away from home than we’d anticipated.
This, and the fact that I struggle with explosive outbursts of anger toward him (yet another area which the Lord is currently refining in my heart), meant that what little time we did have together was marked by slammed doors, silent-treatments, and – the utterly useless – sleeping in separate rooms.
All of these things, of course, we kept hidden from, well, everyone. We’re that solid Christian couple, remember? We don’t have problems – our marriage is perfect.
Hold on, I’m not done – HAHAHAHAHA!
Nothing could be farther from the truth!
Spiritually, I was allowing my martial issues to justify distance from God. Wisdom told me that trying to manage this life apart from God was the dumbest thing I could ever attempt, but sin and selfishness told me that if I just made sure to be more stubborn than Andrew, some day I would get what I wanted most – his unconditional and frequently expressed love.
Aaaaaaand, on top of all of these intangible issues, I was dealing with some pretty gross physical ones too.
After years of basically destroying my body, my digestive system was a wreck. Irregularity would have been a welcomed condition because I only had two types of bowl movements: the constipated kind and the liquid kind.
Did I mention that ugliness was ugly?
And I’m not even done yet.
On top of some pretty hideous digestive issues, I was also developing (with increased regularity) something that embarrasses me more than words can say: cystic pimples in my fat folds.
You have no idea how much I did NOT want to share that information.
BEAUTY AFTER UGLINESS
“So why did you,” you ask?
Beauty is only beautiful because of ugliness. Darkness is only dark because of the light. Truth is only Truth because of lies.
And transformations are only transformative when they defy apathy.
Do I have to share all of this with you? No. Do I have to expose my deepest, darkest, ugliest secrets? No.
But will my honesty bring God glory? I believe it will.
You see, all of this ugliness is a direct result of my sin. And sin is the opposite of who God is. To openly confess to sin is to admit that I can’t do this my way and that I cannot do this alone.
In 50 weeks, I will be a different person. My body will be evidence of the fact that I have overcome tremendously difficult physical and emotional battles.
But when I get there, I am going to say one thing over and over again: I didn’t do it, God did.
You see all this ugliness? You see all this filth and brokenness and worn, stained imperfection?
It would take a miracle to transform this ugliness into beauty, this filth into cleanliness, this brokenness into something whole.
And thats exactly the point.
One year from now, when I am half the woman I am today, my internal and external transformations will be one thing and one things only: a testament to the fact that God can do what man cannot – MIRACLES.
Until Next Time My Friends,
The Taylor of All Trades