A few years ago there was a quote from Joyce Meyer that stuck with me. “Giving in to fear alters God's best plan for your life. Do what He wants you to do...even if you have to do it afraid!” The part that really stuck was “….. do it afraid!” There have been so many times when I have been afraid to step out, not sure of the outcome, and I would just do it even if I was scared. I have come to believe that bravery isn’t the absence of fear but not allowing fear to control you.
Lately, I’ve been processing a different kind of challenge to my perfectionist tendencies…… my weight. Since childhood, I have struggled with unhealthy beliefs and mindsets about my self-image and weight. Much of my teens and twenties were marred with eating disorders from anorexia to binge-eating. Subsequently my weight has fluctuated all over the place. I’ve gained weight, lost it, and gained it again, living life obsessed with this perpetual yo-yo of shame and freedom, all based on a stinking number on a scale. Thank you, Jesus that I am not alone in my struggles. God is always present in my heart reminding me of how He sees me and how beautiful I am despite where my weight is currently.
Despite the revelation of God’s love for me, there was still something holding me back from many things God has called me to do. I was waiting to lose the weight before I could step into what He wanted. I know that I am not alone. Weight is a huge issue for a lot of us but many of us hold back because of other issues as well. “When I make more money…” “After I’m married….” “When I quit smoking…” “If my boss were to promote me……”
Here we are waiting. We wait trying to clean ourselves up before we allow God’s love to move through us. We pass up opportunities. We hesitate. We hold back. All because we don’t feel ready!
Here is the list of things I was holding back on: exercising (so ironic, I know!), making new friends, pursuing career connections, opening up to friends and family, and allowing myself to receive love from those closest to me.
There have been times when I felt ready because I felt confident in myself; but when your confidence is found in a number on the scale, it fades as soon as that number changes.
What if we stopped waiting until we felt ready?
What if I were to just do it? Just as I am?
Over the past several weeks, I have been trying to live this way and I’ve made some pretty cool observations.
• First off, the power that food held in my mind has lessened. I’m not dieting or counting calories obsessively but I am making healthy choices not because I have to but because I want to.
• Since I don’t feel confident or even comfortable stepping out, I pray a lot more. “OK, God, if you want me to do this, give me what I need to make it happen because you know I don’t have it!” This has brought a new dependence on God, which brings more freedom.
• Knowing I might be judged by my weight has forced me to let go of my need for approval and just love people whether they affirm me or not. (Again this is not comfortable but totally freeing!)
• I would love to say, I’ve dropped pounds. I honestly don’t know because I haven’t been obsessed with the scale either.
• My life hasn’t transformed overnight but many of my perceptions have changed. I am seeing more opportunities where I hadn’t seen them before.
• Allowing myself to receive love has brought a keen awareness of those who love me, which has deepened the intimacy with my husband and my close friends.
• Learning to let go of shame has allowed me to see myself in a new light. I never realized all the shame that I walked in before.
• I am actually beginning to be thankful for my body, instead of only seeing the flaws.
“Walking in grace” has a deeper meaning. Honestly, this is the core message of the gospel. Will we allow the power of God’s love to save us, not just in a one-time moment but in every area of our lives? Today, let me challenge you to step forward in an area you haven’t felt ready to step into before. Stop obsessing about whatever qualifier you have convinced yourself that you need. Give it to God! Allow yourself to receive His grace for the challenge and just do it!
by Julie Hodgden
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Pic by Sommer.Daniel