But I need to write this—now—in the midst of the struggle. Too many of the stories we hear and read and write are those from the mountaintop. But if we are going to trust that God is Lord over our struggles, we have to tell the stories from the ledges, one-quarter up the mountain. We have to tell the stories about re-climbing the same mountain we thought we had conquered years ago. We have to talk about treading the same waters we were once rescued from.
This is a story about a zigzagging journey of attempting to lose the weight I’ve struggled with since the birth of my second child nearly three years ago.
Last February, I joined a gym. It was a year-long contract. It was after we just rearranged some things in life to free up some extra money. It was an attempt for my husband and I to get back into the shape we were in when we lived in Mexico. I started taking aerobics classes three times a week. I enjoyed it but it soon became clear I couldn’t keep it up because of work schedules and life. So I’d go early in the morning and use the elliptical. I started counting calories after my doctor explained to me what is probably obvious to everyone. I told her I had been going to the gym for a few months, but I wasn’t seeing results. She gave me a math lesson. Calorie intake and calorie burn have a simple relationship with each other. It clicked. I needed to burn more calories and intake less. I moved to the bicycle at the gym because I burned more in the same amount of time. Then I started riding my bike outside. I loved it. I’ve never loved exercising in a building. I’ve jogged outside the majority of my adult life before kids.
Things were going great. I was eating healthy, even if I was a bit moody when people ate the things I loved in front of me. I was cycling 3-5 times a week. I had an 8-mile route I took in the early morning before the kids, and the sun, and the city were awake. I loved it.
I miss it.
Around September we got our foster license. October, we got a call for two girls. We said yes. Suddenly, our routines were shaken. Suddenly, we were exhausted all the time. Suddenly, we were in survival mode. I couldn’t count calories anymore. It took up too much time. I couldn’t think of how I would adapt the family supper to fit my low-intake needs. I could barely think about the next five minutes in front of me. A whirlwind of life came at us fast, and my cycling routine left.
I can’t even begin to describe life over the past six months, although my article at Mudroom might give you a glimpse. What I can say is that I have not consistently been cycling since early October, and I haven’t been counting calories. That math formula that sparked my initial change remains constant—and I’m 10 pounds heavier.
There’s a moment in rock climbing after you take a big fall. You’re dangling in your harness and you look up at where you were on the mountain and realize you have to reclimb. You have to put your hands in holds you already struggled to grasp and re-find the good nubs for your feet. In that moment you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this worth it?’
I have a lot of work to do in learning to love my body in every shape it finds itself in. I can’t say right now that I do. But I know I need to.
I also have to learn that sometimes what we gain in the falling—not in the succeeding—is priceless. The past six months have been the most challenging in MY ENTIRE LIFE. But I would not trade them for a fit body.
I would not.
I hope that you and I can both learn that God is not just ‘with’ us in the struggles to push us through. He’s with us like—
Like dwelling in the struggles
Like sleeping on the side of the mountain
Like belaying us and encouraging us we can reclimb
Like reminding us his love is not earned through successful accomplishments.
So when you have to re-climb the same mountain again
And when you have to re-tread the same waters again
And when you have to re-enter the same dark woods
And when you have to return to the places you've been before and never planned on going back ...
God is WITH you.