It’s a New Year, and time for half of America to make resolutions. In fact, the statistics I found online guesstimated that about 48% of us will make at least one resolution. The top resolution? Of the articles I read, two resolutions competed for the number one slot:
1. Spend more time with family and friends
2. Lose weight/get fit.
I am part of that stat – sort of.
I am looking at resolutions a little differently this year. Since I was a teen, I have made the same resolution each January 1: Lose weight. A cursory flip through my photo albums will prove both my success and failure.
No more “resolving” for me. I am not going to do more and try harder. Not this year.
Two things have changed my approach: preparing to lead a Bible study about weight loss and reading through Ecclesiastes.
In November I was wrapping up a meeting at a local coffee shop. As we walked out, I looked at my friend and said, “I think God’s calling me to teach Made to Crave at our church.” The friend smiled and said something to the effect of “duh.”
I didn’t want to lead the study. Part of me still doesn’t. When you lead a Bible study about marriage, your marriage can be a train wreck and no one will know. When you lead a study about the book of John, you can pretend to know what you’re talking about by reading commentaries and articles online and no one will know. When you lead a Bible study about almost anything, you can fake it. I am not saying you should, just that it’s possible.
But, when you lead a study about WEIGHT, there’s no hiding your success or failure. You wear it (literally) daily. I just didn’t/don’t want to be that person. The “leader” that everyone is watching – will she lose or gain? Ugh!
That’s why in that moment at Stoked, I confessed to my friend that my biggest fear was that the enemy…Satan…would become (or create) an even bigger obstacle in my weight struggle if I committed to leading the study. Again, the friend knowingly answered, “that’s a safe bet.” Sigh.
I expressed to my sister how I felt as if leading a Bible study about weight loss when I still need to lose about 30 pounds probably wasn’t a good idea. Her response? “That’s Satan, Sarah. He’s already winning.” Yeah, I guess so.
Admittedly, Satan has been quite successful in derailing me since my decision in November to lead the study. Since that day, I’ve lost and gained. I am the same weight today as I was in November.
Sad, sad, sad. Why? Because my exercise regimen has not changed. I still average 30-40 miles a week, depending on my training schedule.
My eating? Some days nothing. Some days? Sad, sad, sad. Greedy, greedy, greedy.
What happened? What changed?
I decided to take back the control I’d given to God. Instead of leaning into Him (as I had been since the start of my weight loss journey in June), I decided I could muster enough will power and run enough miles to do this on my own. No need to bother God any longer. I mean, I completed a half-marathon! I no longer needed help…I am successful.
What a lie.
As I prepare to lead Made to Crave at my church, I have found myself in some turmoil. In my heart, I think: this used to be my life, leaning in to God when I had no will power, no want to – gathering my strength from Him hour by hour. He was my motivation and my “want to/ have to.”
It was so clear in my mind that He had a plan for me, and He could not carry out the plan as long as I weighed 235 pounds. He even gave me a glimpse of the plan. He even provided me an opportunity as a direct result of the weight loss.
And, what did I do? Turned my back on His offering. Allowed pride to creep in. Stepped out on my own.
So, here I am. Excited beyond belief to share with even just one woman that God loves her beyond belief just as she is – body issues and all – He has so much more for her and wants to help her crave Him instead of food. But, the excited is conflicting with my own failure of late.
On Monday, I was putting off more prep because of this conflict in my heart. So, while running in the rain, I literally cried out to God. (So glad no one was around:)
He gave me Ecclesiastes.
Here’s Ecclesiastes 1:1-12. I usually link Scripture, but I am including it this time because I don’t want you to miss it!
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: 2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. (NIV)
I can’t begin to share the impact these 12 verses have had on me this week. I hope to share more specifically in future posts, but for this time, I hope you understand that there is simply nothing new under the sun.
As the New Year begins, our culture will zealously seek new products and approaches to weight loss. There is nothing new. I’ve been keeping up with the weight loss market for 20 years. It’s all the same – repackaged and repurposed year after year.
Again, nothing is new. We live in a world in which the sun rises and sets. The wind blows this way and that day in and day out. The streams flow – there may be some flooding for a time – but they never really fill. It really is all wearisome without God. We NEVER hear enough or see enough. What has been will be again – life is very cyclical. Nothing’s new. You won’t be remembered in a 100 years – probably less.
Depressing, huh? Yes, it would be if the story ended there. But, it doesn’t. We have Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection. We have God who sent His only son to die in our place. With the gospel, the meaningless can become meaningful.
There’s no amount of food or exercise or will power or products or plans or supporters that can turn the meaningless to meaningful. You can do more and try harder all you want. But, without Him, you will toil in vain – or more accurately – misery. Oh, you may have some success for a season, but apart from Him – a daily leaning into Him – that success will be fleeting and joyless at best.
I should know. I’ve toiled in vain for over a month. The lack of weight loss isn’t even the biggest repercussion of my self-sufficiency and pride. My lack of joy is. There’s no joy in willing yourself not to eat the Christmas cookies – and I have had plenty of Christmas treats.
But, there is joy in God coming to your rescue when you can’t say no. Knowing it’s all Him and not you? So humbling and amazing that your faith becomes bigger and bigger…you are so in awe of God and His work in your life that you can barely speak about it. Incredibly undeserving but unbelievably grateful.
I pray if you’re resolving to take off extra pounds, get fit, spend more time with family and friends, quit smoking, get organized, or [fill in resolution here], that you don’t go it alone. First, spend time in prayer and in His Word, asking God to take the journey with you. Second, find a friend or family member to help – to walk with you. I promise, with Him, the meaningless, purposeless, mundane can be transformed into meaningful, purposeful, and extraordinary.
I have decided to quit toiling on my own and lean back into Him. I am sure they’ll be plenty of blogging this year as I daily turn my control-freak self over to Him:)
Happy New Year!