When you open the door to adventure, you never really know what might come through that open door. It’s part of what makes it thrilling, the possibilities are endless! It’s also a bit scary, because really…the possibilities are endless! What if God calls me to do something way out of my league, completely out of my comfort zone? Sure I’m good with stretching myself and learning new things, as long as I can do it in baby steps! But when God steered me toward my latest adventure, I knew this would be no kiddie pool experience – He was taking me straight to the deep end, sink or swim!
My brief time in college was nothing short of disaster. After going through some of the most challenging times in my life, I came home a complete mess emotionally, spiritually and especially physically, a victim of rape with an eating disorder added in for good measure. I learned to stuff my feelings with potato chips and chocolate icing and built a wall of Snicker bars and pound cakes around my heart so tall, I was sure I would never, ever be hurt again. At my lowest point of life, in my worst state, my future husband came into the picture. Somehow, he saw through the hurt and the pain and the empty candy wrappers and saw who I could be if only someone would take the time to teach me to love and trust again. And so he did.
Through the years of dating, early marriage and having babies, the emotional and spiritual wounds healed but my weight continued to climb. Over and over again, I lost then gained the same thirty pounds. I slowly learned to let go of the binging and take my hurts to the Lord. But the weight was a sort of safety blanket I held onto, a protection I relied on. Until the day the Lord revealed that He is my strong tower, my rock and my fortress – anything else is built on shifting sand, including the wall around my heart and the fat around my middle. I spent the next month wrestling with where my security truly lies and finally, gratefully surrendered my safety to God. I thought that was the end of it. And then He threw me a left hook…literally.
My adventure began when I started considering joining the gym across the street from our neighborhood. I’ve grown to love my body and be content with my weight, but the constant ache in my hips and legs, lack of energy and inability to do so many things I wished I could were starting to get old. It was time to work out some stress and frustration and get some good exercise at the same time. Just a few short days later, I found myself not puttering around on a treadmill while I watched television as I had imagined, but in a workout studio with a personal trainer, a bunch of weights and some strange looking equipment that looked more like torture devices than exercise gear. Through a series of events only God could have coordinated, I was in the deep end of the pool and I was sure I was going to drown here!
Cindy became my lifeguard. She guided me through the shark infested waters of healthy eating and helped me develop a plan to keep my head above water. My two workout partners, Michelle and Eileen, arrived and we began our circuit training. I was surprised to discover it was much easier and more enjoyable than I expected it would be. Every rep, every set, every circuit completed made me feel stronger and more capable. I repeated to myself over and over again: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) He was there with me in the deep end of the pool and I didn’t have to be afraid, even if all I knew how to do was doggie paddle.
At the end of our workout, Cindy showed us how to put on handwraps so we could spend a little time boxing. I watched carefully – as a leftie, everything always feels backwards when I try to do it – and managed to wrap both hands without a do-over. I walked with Michelle to the punching bag and half-heartedly slugged it. I felt a spark in my heart. I hit it again a little harder and the fire was lit. Out of nowhere, all the hurt and pain and feelings of helplessness bubbled up inside me and threatened to explode. I began to pummel the bag. Inside my heart raged and the wall fell. I wanted to pound the bag, knock it to the ground, jump on top of it and punch it until my arms gave out. It was a symbol of everything that had been locked up inside me for the past 19 years and I was ready to tear it down. Outwardly, I continued to beat at the bag and visualize what I really wanted to do to it. Cindy called me over to punch at the mitts she was wearing as she rotated her arms in different patterns. I threw the first couple punches and she said, “Woah! I’m gonna take another step back. You’ve got some power there.” I continued to punch at the mitts and finished my workout. On the outside, I was quiet and calm. On the inside though, I felt like Rocky at the top of the stairs. I had jumped into the deep end of the pool, learned to swim and claimed my victory. God would keep me safe. I just had to keep swimming.
“The Lord is my strength and my defense, he has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14
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