Today’s question for week 4 of the Made To Crave Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study:
What clues you into the fact that you are relying on your own strength in your battles with food (or any other struggle)? (Ch. 10, RQ 3)
Don’t you dare tell me I’m not strong enough to handle a situation.
Don’t even think for a second that I need help – even if it may appear to you that I’m struggling…because I’m not. I am the person that rises above life circumstances and strives to be defined by what I can do rather than what I can’t. I will not show pain. I will not give-up or give-in…so don’t even try.
Sounds like a great person you would enjoy hanging-out with on a leisurely afternoon, right? No.
Yet, this was the way I represented myself to the world for most of my life. I learned very young that if I allowed anyone close enough to see my real struggles, I opened myself up to hurt. I was proud. I thought I was strong. I thought I had it completely figured out. If I just continued marching on in this way, like any good soldier should, eventually the pain inside would go numb…eventually I would believe in the lies of this mask I would present to the world.
Isn’t it awesome to know that God sees right past the masks we wear everyday? He sees exactly who we are in Him, identity in His arms, peace in His love, stripped from the need to seek acceptance from the world and free to love in so many ways.
Today (Wednesday) was day 2 of week 2 of my Couch 2 5k journey. I get up three times a week around 5:30 AM to jog/run. I have exactly one hour to get my workout in before I need to be back home to get a shower and rush the kids off to two different schools. I’ve actually been doing this routine for a month now – just added the Couch 2 5k workout to the mix.
Last night (Tuesday), my husband and I received a rare treat – we were able to have a real date night…without the kids! We lived it up! We walked along the beach. We saw a movie in the theater…a real movie…no animation allowed! We ate dinner without being interrupted by screams or flying crayons! We laughed. We shared. We had a blast!
Now I knew getting home late after an already crazy day would lead to a very hard struggle getting my tired butt up in the morning to jog. I knew my head would hurt. I knew I wouldn’t want to get up in the cold (you know… 50 degree Florida morning…freezing!!).
I was right.
My Fitbit bracelet buzzed to wake me up reminding me of the 5k I had signed-up to run in April…knowing the fact that I’m made for so much more than just snoring in bed…. But I was tired. So, I resolved to complete the Couch 2 5k portion of the workout and then head home. After stumbling over my shoes, struggling to get my contac in correctly, fumbling with my phone and practically flying through the darkness on a few toy cars…I got a late start.
No big…I’d be done early.
The Couch 2 5k workout involves a brisk 5 minute warm-up walk and then alternates between jogging/running and walking for about 30 minutes until finally after 9 weeks you are able to run a 5k without stopping. It’s a 30 minute workout 3 times a week. I’m loving it! Usually I complete the workout and walk maybe another mile near to loop back home.
Somewhere along my route, I got sucked into my music and realized during my cool down walk that I was 2 miles away from our house. After a quick glance at my watch, I realized I needed to be home in 15 minutes.
This was not going to end well for mommy today.
As I started trying to think of excuses to explain why I was late to my brave husband who agreed to getting the boys up so I could exercise, I felt God telling me to just start jogging.
Ok…I didn’t hear His booming voice, but I seriously felt Him saying to trust Him and that we could make it home in time…but not by my strength…only His.
You got that right…God saw my legs and He knew what He had to do…He has a strong back for lifting!
Keep in mind, I had only jogged 90 seconds at a time before needing to walk…I knew it was 2 miles to get home. The math simply didn’t add up in my head…but really, at that point, my options weren’t exactly off the charts.
As I started this journey home, God and I had a great conversation…one Ill never forget…
Bethany, look at the trees.
Bethany, check out the sky!
I’m bringing the sun out now…
(Me) God, I can’t do this…I’m too tired. I swear I’m going to pass-out…
I can do this…remember?
(Me) Remember what?
Remember the times I’ve carried you before?
…. In your backyard as you practiced countless times to use both arms (even though one was smaller than the other) to throw a correct throw-in for soccer
… In the flooded school cafeteria just moments after a tornado had smashed through
… Holding your (now) husbands hand for the first time wondering if you could really trust guys again
… Walking down the wedding aisle
… Jumping out of a plane wondering if the parachute really would open correctly
… Becoming a mom for the first…second…and third time
… In the ICU after a routine pacemaker implant ended-up being not so routine
… Talking with students about Me at the Juvenile Detention Center
… In the MRI room, on the operating table, in the chemo center…I was right there with you during your fight with brain cancer
… Learning how to use a cane and then moving to the electric scooter
… Learning how to walk again during physical therapy
… Losing your house, losing your job…I knew you would find Me in this…and You did.
… Bethany, I never left you then and I’m right here now. The battle is over. You can trust Me.
As each of these events literally flashed through my head, I no longer saw the sky, or the trees. I no longer seemed stretching to catch my breath. I no longer felt the aching pain in my legs or remembered the urgency to get home.
By the time I reached my front door, I was simply at awe at the ways My Abba had carried me through life. Crazy.
…oh…and I got the kids to school with minutes to spare!
Through this new journey I’m walking with Him, I’m learning that real strength is found in the ability to truly rest in Him. This freedom to simply quit trying to do His job and simply rest in confidence that He indeed can do His work, has completely shattered the mask I was wearing so comfortably. I had to learn when I was trying to rely on my strength and simply rest and allow God to take over. For me, it comes in days like today when I realize deep down that there is no way I’m going to make it home in time…it’s times where I’m so distracted by the lies and mind games that attack my self worth and security. It’s the times that I feel hopeless, worthless…defining myself as a mistake.
And then…just like today, if I allow myself to simply rest and listen for my Abba Daddy’s voice, I can hear Him answer…even if its just “I love you.” And that alone is enough.
I love the following passage I memorized a few weeks ago (emphasis is all mine)
Bethany, don’t worry about anything; instead, pray (talk to Me) about everything. Tell Me what you need, and thank Me for all I have done (remember how I came through for You time after time before). Then you will experience My peace, which exceeds anything you can understand. My peace will guard your heart and mind Bethany, as you live in Me. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NLT)
I can truly say I had no peace wearing the mask of strength, yearning for acceptance and searching for others to define my self-worth. I’m now enjoying this new life simply as His Child, resting in His arms and trusting…still learning to trust as I walk on water in the midst of the storm.
Below is a song I fell in love with during my darkest times of my cancer journey…it simply “got” me in ways I still can’t express. Yet, after finally taking off the mask, wow…what a realization that He allowed everything to fall apart to show me indeed that I need My Daddy.
Josh Wilson – Fall Apart