Inhale .. Exhale ..
Sometimes it takes me a while to “wake up” to the WHY behind my not “feeling” well. I was never good at “listening” to my body (a big reason I got so .. well .. big). This includes not paying attention to signals I’m exhausted or stressed or irritable. Or feeling “trapped” and prone to blame others for making me feel that way….
I have recently woken up to the fact I got hoodwinked, again, by my own “Old Leah” thinking .. trying to bring a lot of factors together to “make” them work to please all involved. And my “making” it work involved making a lot of “sacrifices” from my own world – time, money, energy, etc.
THANK GOD I recognized the pattern before it got TOTALLY out of control, but there are still some costs and losses as a result. (“Natural consequences.”) And as has become my trend (sheepish grin), I flooded my twitter account with a series of self-counseling, “preaching to myself” blips. In short, I was walking by sight, not by faith. I was being led by “emotion” (others’ AND my own) and ulterior motives rather unknown even to myself at first, instead of being led by the Spirit of God – our GOOD Father – who is NOT the “author of confusion” (even though I was kinda overrun by “confusion” at times, and tried to manage it and “force” the square peg into the round hole, instead of identifying that I was sent off course WAY back, and could easily have redirected back THEN and saved everyone a lot of grief, not least of all myself!).
In case you are at all wired like me, a recovering “people pleaser” at odds with her own over-inflated sense of justice (my “kind” word for my own self-righteousness), here are my tweets so YOU might be able to change course, too. I’ll copy here, and retreat to my prayer closet so I can discern the appropriate “fix” .. which is probably going to include some “repentance” on my part for having let things get this far in the first place.
Thank God he is GRACIOUS and loves to direct us for our own good. ❤
- Need 2listen better 2growing feeling of being overwhelmed..It’s OFTEN a “check in my spirit” that I’m walking by fear/obligation, not Faith!
- When u bend over backwards 2make square pegs fit round holes so others aren’t hurt or offended, that might not be love as much as cowardice.
- There’s a difference between sacrificially “giving the shirt off ur back” as Jesus commanded vs. MANIPULATING others by trying 2please them!
- If ur frustratd bcuz ur manipulation disguisd as self-sacrifice fails 2achieve desired accolades, u WILL hv dis-ease from home-grown stress!
- Here’s the point: U might not B aware ur a manipulatng ppl pleaser. LISTEN 2ur stress levels &feeling hurt when others fail 2love ur effort!
- CUT OFF ur stress &frustration UP FRONT! Be willing 2say NO sometimes, express urself &OWN ur decisions. Sometimes NO = most loving answer.
- Be led by PEACE in ur decisions. God is not the author of confusion, & ur not being more “righteous” by ever yielding 2everyone elses whims.
- There is a GRACIOUS diffrnc between loving by SERVING vs being a SLAVE – either 2others OR emotions. Dont be ur own emotional whipping post.
- When u make self-deprecating decisions 2please others (not 2SERVE others), u really can’t blame THEM when u fail 2accomplish ur own dreams.
- If ur a chronic “ppl pleaser” be prepard, it will take WORK 2examin ur motives faithfully. CHECK urself,SPEAK ur true desires,say NO if nec.
- GOOD 2deny urself insofar as ur chasing selflessness. It IS Christ-like. But that is NOT= 2being jerkd by other ppl’s ever-changing desires!
- Have u caught urself in a snowball of iffy decisions? R u bearing fruit of stress,frustration,exhaustion,anger,blameshifting? CHANGE COURSE.
- We serve a GOOD Father &his commands R NOT burdensome! If u FEEL burdened, could it be ur walking in a SELF-imposed reality, not led by HIM.
- Uve made some compromises,found ur iffy motivs,&need 2change course? PAUSE,immerse urself in PRAYER so nxt move =led by the SPIRIT,not self.
An old, school friend of mine and his wife needed prayer and encouragement, this morning, as they are in an ugly custody battle with her deceptive and abusive ex-husband regarding her kids ..
The word the Lord gave me is a word worth sharing, cuz I needed to “hear” it, too!
Before the court appointment:
… I’ll be praying that the spiritual enemies at work will be thwarted, that the judge .. be bound by law and discern the truth as well as SEE what is best for the kids ..
And I’ll pray that you and your wife are able to rest in the knowledge that regardless of what YOU cannot control, nevertheless we have a God who can “turn the heart of the king wherever He wills.” [Proverbs 21:1] I am so sorry you guys are going through this struggle! I’ll be praying for good fruit for YOU two, for your like-mindedness and unity in your marriage as you wrestle “not with flesh and blood” and for all the kiddos as no doubt they are feeling the stress of everything, as well as being pawned and yanked and manipulated .. God WILL bring healing and good from all this [Romans 8:28] …. ❤
Even the unjust judge in Jesus’ parable about praying without ceasing [Luke 18:1-8] ultimately relented because the woman persisted in her requests for justice. I will pray that THIS judge will administer GOD’S wisdom, even if not his/her own. ❤
After the court appointment, and SOME small victories in the situation as a result, she expressed weariness over the journey which caused the Spirit to prompt me to say:
I can tend to be an “all or nothing” person .. I have been really struggling lately with depression over my weight-loss journey cuz I’ve backtracked a little (lost 156 lbs, but have gained back 7 in the last couple months) .. I have had to remind myself A LOT lately that EVERY little thing is what adds up to a big difference when all is said and done. I can’t make myself go to the gym, lately .. I just don’t have the mental or physical fortitude, struggling with pain issues, etc. BUT I can walk 5 minutes every couple hours, I can cut back my intake to make up for less physical activity (and thus fewer calories to spend), etc.
I know my journey is NOTHING compared to winning a victory on behalf of your CHILDREN’S welfare .. My only word of encouragement intended is ..
EVERY little decision, EVERY little fight, EVERY little victory, EVERY little reprieve – a minute to catch your breath till the next battle .. EVERY one is worth giving thanks for. Every little thing will eventually add up .. and I’m afraid we little people don’t learn “patience” any other way than going THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death .. [Psalm 23, James 1:2-8]
It can be so tempting to just sit down and put our heads in our hands and give up, but if we don’t go through it, where do we find ourselves? In a crumpled heap, motionless IN the valley of the shadow of death? Why would we want to stay there!
We MUST get up, we MUST keep going, and thank GOD for his promise that he goes through it WITH us .. HE sees us through to the other side.
TAKE HEART, sister. You ARE fighting a good fight.
You’re imaging our Good Father by sacrificing for the sake of your beloved children. He gave all to rescue you [John 3:16, Romans 8:32], now you get to do the same for your little ones. Let this speak to your heart about how GREAT the love of OUR Good Father is for us. He will most definitely strengthen you through this! And in the end, bring both good for you, and glory for himself.
Cuz what’s on the other side of the valley?
LIFE. Real, vibrant, exhilarating LIFE in the fullness of God’s grace.
So trust our Good Shepherd to lead us beside the still waters, to restore our souls, and take us through to the other side. HE is with you, HE is FOR you, whom shall you fear?? ❤ [Romans 8:31-39]
Romans 8:31-39 (Phillips)
31-32 In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?
33-34 Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!
35-36 Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat of force of arms? Indeed some of us know the truth of the ancient text: ‘For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’.
37 No, in all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us.
38-39 I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!
We are so blessed. ❤
Gonna get real for a minute. Someone posted this [pic] on the Team 383 group page, and it struck my center. I am fighting some unexpected pain this a.m., so was already on the “down” side – and I FEEL this pic. I posted this comment on the pic where originally posted:
The “core” issue for me has always been one of this voice SCREAMING in my head that I’m a failure, I’m undesirable, “death would be preferable” .. This voice comes back even now – I’ve lost 156 lbs! But this voice wants me to gain it all back, go back to what I WAS without regard for everything I now am and everything I’m FIGHTING to become. Being able to SEE this voice for what it is – EVIL – is the first step towards being able to call it out, speak to it, call it a LIAR, and take the reins again. How I WISH the “temptation” would go away, never to return!! ❤
How I need the FRESH mercy and grace of God EVERY morning. ❤
Some practical steps (in no particular order) to get me “back to right thinking” —
- Intentionally SMILE (my “resting” face can tend to look mad).
- Along with that, intentionally being “cheerful” when greeting another person (my temptation is to “push people away” until I can get a handle on myself).
- Remind myself of my blessings (literally count them!) AND my progress.
- Practice being thankful for SPECIFIC things, no matter how small.
- Identify the lies as lies, preach the truth to myself, speaking w/authority of Jesus OVER the lies.
- Treat any physical pain to lessen stress load (or sleep! if deprived!).
- Identify some LITTLE things I can accomplish in the next hour (hour by hour) – and DO them (sort laundry, drink 20 oz water, go for a walk, etc).
- Watch a funny movie or clip – find ways to force myself to LAUGH (to take back control over my emotions).
- GET UP! Move! (I have found that sitting or “lying down” with the negative patterns is a huge momentum killer – or worse – it drives me further in to listening to the bad thoughts/voices/feelings. Sometimes just simply physically GETTING UP can be just enough momentum to ignite my motivation to choose other, better steps.)
- RECOGNIZE external signs of the internal attack/negative reality (too quick to “snap” at someone/something for no reason, taking something personally, tempted to swear, etc.) to catch it EARLY. It’s easier to kill a mosquito than a rattlesnake!
- Listen to familiar/well-loved worship music (it’s not enuf to just “distract” myself, I need to “TURN” myself in a different direction).
- Read a book/article/Scripture that is in keeping with my goals/new heart/mind.
- Find someone to speak a word of encouragement into (calling up a friend doesn’t always work for me cuz it’s a temptation to wallow in the negative emotion or put too much value on “their good opinion” of me, but I DO need to get better about learning to ask for help, too! Even if it’s just to say to a trusted inner-circle friend/sister/brother – I am really struggling with THIS right now (and NAME the specific thoughts/feelings)….).
I am very sure I could list more, but this is a start. ❤
Add comments with your ideas/suggestions?
My best “before and after” pics so far.
In the past two years, I have gone from 324 lbs and a size 26, down 155 lbs (100 lbs of this in a 120 day INTENSIVE window of time) to a BMI healthy weight of 169 lbs (so far) and a size 8.
I was at one point on 16 different prescriptions, including multiple inhalers, had chronic fatigue and pain issues, recurring pneumonia, sometimes serious digestive issues (I thought this was normal for everyone!), breathing and heart-racing issues, cyclical migraines, hormonal imbalances, systemic yeast infection, and bad skin issues, to say nothing of my depression and purposelessness –
I didn’t even know that my core belief was that I was not “worth” saving.
In spite of a 4 month window where I had to have spinal surgery, I have not gained back any of the 155 lbs I have so far lost, and I am HEALED of almost all my issues.
Now – NO pneumonia, NO remaining prescriptions, NO fatigue pain issues, my menstrual cycle has been 4 weeks regular for over a year (first time in my whole LIFE!) and only “normal” cramping (instead of the excessive, debilitating pain to which I had grown accustomed), and more than one medical professional has told me I have a heart “conditioned like a runner’s” .. and I have energy like never before, and clarity of thinking.
ALL because of GRACE. ALL because we have a GOOD FATHER in God who gives generously to all who ask for wisdom, without finding fault.
ALL because God gave me a vision of what he had MADE me to be. ALL because He introduced me to my best friend who “just so happened” to be a fitness/nutritionist who faithfully encouraged me for YEARS beforehand to do the HARD thing, to be prepared to “pay in pain” because I didn’t get to my state overnight, a friend who would ultimately give me the tool I needed to succeed, and teach me to use it! ALL because He led me to the godly woman who would also be my wellness coach to deal with all the mental/spiritual mess I was in that led to my morbid obesity in the first place. ALL because He wanted to SET ME FREE from my mental and physical food addictions. ALL because he wanted to strip away the WASTE I had made of my life, and make me NEW. Again. 🙂
He is GOOD.
* In fight against #Depression I PREACH 2myself: #faith = often NOT understanding. Still, God is pleasd I believ him when I dont FEEL like it.
* #Depression is very real for ALL, tho we like 2deny it. Perhaps bcuz #faith is supposed 2cureall. #Jesus IS our hope ESPEC in midst of fire.
* #Depression usually manifests when I’v tried 2TAKE OVR some aspect of my life – 2MAKE sumthin happen. #EvidenceImNotYielding2SpiritsLeading.
* #Depression is not ALWAYS an indication of a lack of surrender. Sumtimes there’s grief that invades &drowns the voice of Hope. #TheGoodFight
* More than ever Im persuaded that HOPE gives birth 2FAITH. So when Im battling #Depression I must actively HUNT 4voice of HOPE 2find LIFE.
* My experience = I can “feel” when weight of a #Depression (oppression) lifts. &Always this comes after I express my longing heart in prayer.
* I can KNOW I must pray & give my “groanings” 2God as an offering, BUT in midst of pain it feels like THE most impossible thing! #Depression
Be BLESSED, Beloved ❤
I won’t go into too much detail here, because I don’t want to give cause for a misinterpretation of events; but this little incident was too good not to share. Stay tuned for one tiny peek at an unplanned and unexpected but very welcome Redemptive Moment. 🙂
I WAS FIRED.
I was fired. Yep – not from my present job, but the job I had before. It’s been nearly 8 years since I went through very rough waters with a former employer, both sides feeling justified in a growing distrust and mutual dissatisfaction, and a painful ordeal that was only survived with some grace because of a gracious mediator who walked us through the transition that would ultimately lead to me training my own replacement.
This was a life-altering experience for me – not just because it was so devastating to not be believed, not be trusted, and feel I had NO earthly way to rectify the opinions of others, but mainly because this was a small family owned business, and these were people I had known for YEARS before working there, had gone to CHURCH with them, had what I thought was a loving relationship with them and their kids outside any workplace association. Yet in the months when everything unraveled and in the subsequent mutual parting of ways, everything in our friendship and association also vanished.
MEMORY IS A TRICKY THING.
From what I understand – and please, I’m not a scientist, so let’s just chalk this up to being a bit of an internet and news junkie – our brains RE-remember every time we visit a “memory,” and HOW we perceive is fluid, always changing – almost as if the memories themselves are living things – and yet our CONVICTIONS about what we remember are equally as strong in the 10th telling (which for some people will be much more varied from the first telling than others) even if the content (unbeknownst to us) may differ in significant ways.
Perhaps that’s a good argument for keeping a journal – provided we can be trusted to recount events honestly to ourselves, which sometimes may be a big “if.” 🙂
As for me? Here? I remember more the emotions, the hurt, the suspicion, or the anger – even the fury – sometimes directed at me. I remember returning some of the same. Present emotions often register as shame, regret, sorrow, that wishful longing that things had been different, that I had DONE things differently.
A BROKEN WINDSHIELD TO HEAL.
By happenstance, my car recently suffered (another) windshield injury. I looked up a repair shop online, not fully registering the location of the address, and mistakenly assessing it to be closer to my job for a quick lunch visit. In fact, this shop was several miles away, in the neighborhood of my previous place of employment. And I arrived to learn my windshield was non-repairable – I would have to reschedule for another visit to have the whole thing replaced. So by happenstance *ahem* I found myself with some time to kill before going back to work, AND within just a couple blocks of this place which attaches to so many significant negative (but growth-inducing) emotions.
So I decided to drop in for a visit.
And I found that the son has since bought the business from his parents, the wife (daughter-in-law) now manages the main office and the books, and though the mom no longer works there, the dad still weaves in and around the office, cheerfully advertising, don’t you know, that the KFC founder didn’t really get his business feet under him till he was 80 years old, so there!
I found that the gal who had replaced me was years gone, and the gal I had replaced more years before was now working there again. I found that the business had weathered the economic downturn seemingly well, and that the gracious mediator I had hoped to revisit had resigned just a few months before to pursue more missions-minded work in another city. How fitting. 🙂
There was shock expressed over how much weight I’ve lost (they all knew me at my unhealthiest), there was curiosity about the house I’ve recently purchased, my now living near my sister so many miles away from my current job, and the nearly 8 years I’ve now been with the same employer. We visited about changes in our church experiences, changes in our country, and in short how the years mature us .. if we let them. 🙂
There were smiles, even a few hugs, and they let me wander out back until I found the 80+ year old dad lifting his face to soak up a little sun behind the shop, enjoying a quiet smoke break, standing just exactly as I remember him .. I got to visit with him for a few minutes, and … was that “relief” spreading over his face? To learn that I was now in such a good place, healthy and happy and well cared for …. I left well-wishes for everyone, and asked the dad to take a love greeting to his wife, my former boss, too.
Then another round of hugs and affirmations for the healing time can minister, and we all marveled once again at how .. Paths can cross and sever, but God is still God of us all, and – for those who will humbly yield to it – his grace is greater than what we allow to divide ….
I think I will never again feel as much GRATITUDE as I did that day for a badly timed rock bouncing on the freeway on my commute to work. 😉 Miracles can spring forth from the most unlikely of places, don’t you know.
And just for the record, I don’t believe in “happenstance.” 😉
As I was checking out after a recent dental appointment, a handsome, tall young man was approaching from my left side, pushing a wheelchair to go around behind me – the older, oxygen fed woman in his apparent charge was in need of the restroom.
Initially, I made no other observation than this, until a moment later I hear the woman directly behind me crying, “HELP ME! SOMEBODY HELP ME!” and the young man – whom I now learn was only her taxi service – is nowhere to be found. The woman couldn’t wheel herself into the tiny unisex, single door room, and she was exclaiming she couldn’t control herself and needed help right away!
I don’t work for the dentist office, nor for any care service; though I did once live with and care for an elderly lady in her home for almost two years, and I suppose my more “human” instinct took over. (I didn’t even think about our litigious society – so I had no fear until AFTER the fact, that I could be sued for trying to help her! Thank God nothing went wrong!) I just took charge of her for a moment, straightened out her chair, helped her line up properly so we could inch her inside, had to lift the backside of her chair a couple times, and finally .. Success. (During this process, I could see the 20 year old wide-eyed young girl behind the counter who had been checking me out after my own appointment was clearly trying very hard not to panic – she was sputtering and asking what she could do, thanking me profusely, and despite all the shuffling and awkward movements between the three of us, no one else around gave any indication of even noticing our little fuss.)
I asked the woman her name, gave her mine, told her I used to live with a lady and help care for her and I’d be glad to help, I just needed to know what she needed. She said she could get herself up on the toilet herself, so I aimed to leave her in privacy – but explained I would leave the door unlocked if she needed anything. I was waiting outside not even thirty seconds when she was crying for “HELP!” again. I quietly entered, and found she had caught herself on her oxygen tubing with her pants half down, and she had clearly already wet herself – thankfully with some kind of absorbent undergarment, but she had no clean replacement on hand. So I made sure she was sturdy holding herself up by the railing beside the toilet, got her untangled so her oxygen could flow freely, and then proceeded to help remove her soiled “adult diaper” and get her settled. She couldn’t get on the seat properly by herself and wasn’t able to “aim” without risking further mess ..
“BETWEEN THE FOLDS”
She was a heavy woman – easily twice the weight she should have been. And I learned she was only about sixty, though she looked twenty years older than her real age. And her body put off a VERY foul odor .. her rolls of fat were marred with myriad stretch marks front and back, her skin pale and clammy, and between the folds was growing some kind of systemic yeast infection – the worst being a thick, blackened nastiness, visibly fuzzy, completely coating the crevice of her buttocks. As I tried to help maneuver her, I couldn’t quite tell where her fat ended and her “real body” began, and apologized for my clumsiness – I didn’t want her to feel embarrassed ..
In the end, she agreed to several folded paper towels, padded with toilet paper to soften, to replace her soiled absorbent padding. We got her cleaned up and dressed and re-situated in her chair, mindful of the oxygen tubing, and wheeled her out just as she was being called back for her own appointment .. the hygienist obviously making the same erroneous presumption about me that I had made about the man who wheeled the woman in in the first place – that I was her care-giver.
I tried to graciously extricate myself – I had to get back to work!, and the woman was once again … left alone.
TWO POWERFUL OBSERVATIONS
1) Thank you, Lord, that I was in the right place at the right time. The woman needed help, and I was perhaps the best possible person to offer it in the moment. I consider this a gift to the woman .. even if it was for just one tiny moment of her obviously difficult life ..
2) The more painful observation .. I have lost over 130 lbs .. I need to lose about 30 more, and I will be (God willing) LESS THAN HALF the size I was when I started this journey … I WAS morbidly obese. And at (then) 36 years old, I already looked at least 10 years older, and I was carrying rolls of fat riddled with stretch marks from years of abusing my own body. Please realize my above horrifying descriptions are not statements of judging this woman, but this woman IS what I could have become, but for the grace of God intervening in my life ..
“THERE, BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I ..”
I was disgusted with myself for being disgusted by this woman’s condition .. but I also was powerfully struck by the living example of a life imprisoned by the consequences of decisions (or a lack thereof) made during her earlier years. I KNOW obesity isn’t always or only the result of overeating. Mine was in large part an issue of spiritual strongholds, including a desire to HIDE from the sexual attentions of men as my way of dealing with some past abuse.
But sometimes it is just as simple, too, as realizing that our decisions DO have consequences.
Dear God, please let me sow good seed! ❤
This has been a very challenging year – To anyone who has dropped by and happened to miss me, thank you! and I’m back!
Two BIG changes in the past year – I lost over 130 lbs, and I bought my first house to move closer to family.
I hope to post much more in coming updates of the things the Lord has taught me in both of these journeys, and others. Perhaps the most profound has been in the area of learning where to set and maintain proper “boundaries” in my life, as well as identifying areas where I had set up “strongholds” which ensnared me and led to my imprisonment in my own body – some of these things the Lord was already beginning to work on in me in months before, and you can probably see those themes in previous posts. I should go back and re-read, and perhaps that will inspire additional commentary.
For now, hello. 😉 Please stay tuned. 😉