When the Going Gets Tough…

I used to think that if I tried something and I received resistance, or a push-back against accomplishing what I set out to do, that it was somehow a “sign” that it wasn’t the right thing to do.  I think that many of us feel the same way, especially if we set out to on a path that we are not sure is the right one.  The road starts to get bumpy and we immediately start to question whether we made the right choice.  But one important lesson I’ve learned, especially from my adoption experiences, is that the “rightness” of a decision has little or nothing to do with how difficult the result might be.  In fact, I believe that the more difficult the road, the more “right” it really is.  In battle, the closer you get to the enemy the more the bullets start whizzing over your head.  Head in the wrong direction and you’ll probably find the road pretty easy going.  Please be careful when someone tells you “this is an easy way to lose weight”.  Chances are the road is not taking where you really want to go.  Or, “what you’re doing is really hard, and I think God is telling you that you should stop and try something else.”  Standing tall in the face of adversity is a true sign of courage.  Don’t give up.   When the going gets tough, the tough keep going.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

J

It Comes Down to Pride

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”  Romans 12:3

A couple of weeks ago I was helping out at the Escondido Community Wellness Day, and I was present during the door-prize giveaway of a year of financial planning for free.  A great offer, right?  A whole year of a professional looking over your budget, helping you trim where you need trimming, invest how you would most benefit.  But I have to be honest.  My first thought was “I’m not sure if I would use that.”  Why not?  I really can only say that it comes down to pride.  It’s not that I couldn’t use the help.  I’m sure that the advice would be invaluable.  I just don’t like the idea of someone poking around in my personal life, and I think I would have a tough time with someone telling me that what I am doing is wrong and that I need to change it.  But I got to thinking about my attitude, and I realized an important hypocrisy in my rationale.  What I do for people’s physical lives is no different than what a financial planner does for people’s financial health.  And I expect that people will come to me for help, willing to open themselves to a certain measure of scrutiny.  Physical health is a very personal topic for most people, but I expect them to be open and honest with me.

What about me?  How willing am I to open up to someone about my personal life?  Realizing this has made me much more understanding about the psyche of the individual who seeks me out for my advice and help.  That being said, don’t let your pride get in the way of finding the help that you need.  Don’t be afraid to seek out the accountability of a friend.  Ask that trainer in the gym if you are doing your exercises correctly.  Sign up for Weight Watchers.  Sometimes it takes admitting that we can’t do it on our own to start making progress.  This is one of the reasons that I write this blog.  Please don’t hesitate to leave comments and ask questions.  I am here to help.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to better your health because you won’t admit that you can’t do it on your own.

J

You’re Not a Burden

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

The other day I was talking with an acquaintance about the shared experience of adoption, and we were talking about how both of us involved other people in providing for the adoption of our children.  We loved the fact that people we cared about were able to be a part of our children’s stories.  We also found it interesting that while other cultures in the world embrace the idea of eliciting the help of others, our western culture is less inclined to ask for help.  Maybe it’s a pride thing.  We don’t want to admit that we can’t do it on our own.  Maybe it harkens back to the “American Dream” mentality of our ancestors.  Pull up your bootstraps and get it done because nobody’s going to do it for you.  Maybe it goes back even further than that to the founding of our nation.  We don’t need another country telling us what to do.  We want to be independent.  Whatever the reason, the simple fact is that we don’t like to ask for help.  We don’t want to burden someone else with our problems.  But this thinking is flawed.

Your life journey was not meant to be a solo effort.  Why else would God have created people with different skill sets, different personalities, and different passions?  We are made to live in community, and the purpose of this community is to come together to build one another up.  To help each other out according to the strengths that we have been given.  By not asking for help, you are actually denying another individual the opportunity to help.  We think it is selfish to ask for help, but I’ll say that it is selfish not to ask for help.  Who are you to deny another person the opportunity to use their God-given gifts in service?

Trying to better your personal health, especially when it comes to weight loss, is often a very personal struggle.  Most don’t readily open up to just anyone about their hang-ups.  But it is very difficult to stick with a journey that is this challenging if you do it alone.  You need someone to keep you accountable when the temptation to slack off comes (because it will).  You need someone to share the pain of exercise with (it is much more tolerable that way).  You need someone to talk to who will encourage you when you feel like giving up.  I know that there are people in your life that want to help you.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  They are going to bless your life, and what you might not realize is that you are going to be a blessing to them in the process, not a burden.

J

Come Out of Physical Retirement

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. “  Ephesians 2:10

The term “walk” implies movement.  Not a single action, but a series of actions carried out over time.   We are to be continually engaged in the work that the Lord has for us here on Earth.  He created us to be actively engaged in the world around us, bringing the hope and love of Christ to the hopeless and unloved.  There is no indication that this journey has an end.  No quota to fill.  No years of service to receive our pension.  No retirement age.  Many believe that once they reach a certain age, they are entitled to stop working.  They’ve put in their time.  But the Kingdom of God not only needs, but requires those that are mature in the faith to be actively engaged with the younger workers in mentoring and service.

In the same way, many believe that exercise is for the young.  I hear things like “I used to be able to do that”, or “I wish I could exercise but I just can’t anymore”.  “It’s harder than it used to be.”  As an aging individual, there are two reasons to fight this mentality.  One is what was stated above.  There is still work to be done.  The aging population plays a pivotal role in shaping the generations to come, and they need to remain sharp and focused.  Their physical health plays a significant role in this task.  As we stated before, service is active, and requires work.  Whether it is being able to stand for long periods of time without pain, carry out physically demanding tasks, or have the energy to display vigor and passion in your work, they healthier and stronger you are physically, the better you will be able to carry out the work that God has for you to do.

The second reason is stated right in the excuse, “it’s harder than it used to be”.  When you are young, the muscles, tendons, and bones are naturally stronger, more flexible, and can handle the stresses put on them much easier.  As you age, the muscles get weaker, the tendons and ligaments get drier and less pliable, and the bones get more brittle.  Regular exercise combats all of these degradations of aging.  You might have been able to get away with not exercising when you were younger, just relying on youth to protect you.  But as an older adult it becomes not only recommended, but an absolute essential that you stay healthy and physically active.  It is the only way that you will be able to stay strong, energetic, and pain-free, all characteristics of a vibrant life of service.  Don’t throw in the towel.  God still has much for you to do.  Come out of physical “retirement” and get this journey moving again!

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.   Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Matthew 9:35-38.

J

We Have Traveled Far

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus…”  Ephesians 2:4-6.

I posed the question, “How far have you traveled?”  Sometimes I forget how far I have come.  Before I truly met God, I was full of myself.  Thinking that I had all the answers.  Feeling like I was pretty good “playing” at faith.  Thinking that comfort and ease were my rights for living a “good” life.  But then in a Russian orphanage I met Him face to face.  As I held the boy who was to be my son, it was as if I was holding myself, looking down at me through the eyes of God.  I saw my frailty.  I saw my fear.  I saw my selfishness.  I saw my stubbornness.  I saw my piety.  And I saw my future.  Destined for failure and death if God, “being rich in mercy” and full of “great  love”, had not stepped into my life, picked me up, and carried me out of the future that was before me, and into life.

But God goes farther than that.  He doesn’t stop at just giving us life (though that would be more than we deserve).  He “raised us up with Him and seated us with Him”.  He adopted us and made us family.  Full fledged sons and daughters of the Creator of the universe!  That is quite an ascension.  We have traveled far.  From the pits of our sin-filled lives to the palace of peace and perfection.  But not of our own strength, and not because we did anything to deserve it.  When we were “dead in our transgressions”, he brought us out.  Before we knew how to thank him.  Before we got our act together.  Before we cleaned ourselves up.  Before we took care of those little personality quirks.  He took us as we were.  And, thank God, continues to take us as we are, prodigals though we may be sometimes.  God loves you, and His son Jesus Christ paid a dear price to bring you into His family.  Let us not forget our identity as His children, and may we seek to understand our role and purpose in His family.

J