Goodness and Grace
Friends, can I tell you a story?
When I was nine years old, my mom took me shopping at the mall. My best friend's birthday party was coming up the next week and I wanted a new outfit to look cute for the party. We went to a store where I found some bright purple pants and a fun floral top to complete the look -- and I was feeling chipper!
The weekend finally came around and on Saturday afternoon, I slid into those bright purple pants and smiled at myself in the mirror. I looked good. I sauntered downstairs and asked my older brother what he thought about my new outfit, positive he would affirm my clearly exorbitant view of myself. But what I heard instead, a simple question, was the first time that I remember feeling an emotion I felt almost every day for the next seventeen years.
"Aren't those pants a little... tight?"
It was a simple question. They were stretchy denim material (it was the nineties, give me a break), and sure, they were fitted, but who really cared - I was in fourth grade and I had more important things to worry about. Like keeping my Tomigatchi alive, practicing my cursive as I signed mine and my husband's future name: Mr. and Mrs. John Stamos, and memorizing every.single.lyric by heart to the new *NSYNC album.
But now, I had a new infatuation. It was not as fun as those other afternoon activities, and unlike the hobbies I'd acquired at that age, I would not outgrow this one for a long time.
I don't blame my brother - he was just a teenage boy making an observation without a filter. His question was not the root of all my insecurity, weight struggles, or years of idolizing food. He simply began an internal dialogue that would have inevitably spoken up sooner or later.
The past seventeen years have been an exhausting, never-ending, ongoing battle. It goes a little like this: worry about what I eat, have a bad day, eat too much, feel guilty about drinking sweet tea too often, give up sugar, pick sugar back up, gain the weight, feel sad, cry and eat a cookie, lose some weight, and on and off and so forth. Insecurity has crept in, stealing my joy and telling me that true contentment and happiness are just around the corner when I burn those last few calories and lose those last ten pounds.
But friends, you know what? Being skinny is not what makes our life good. Looking great in our clothes does not advance God's kingdom. Losing weight and being approved by strangers on the Internet is fleeting. Food is not the ultimate solution for all of life's problems. And no amount of dieting, exercise or counting calories can bring the ultimate joy, life, and freedom of walking in God's BEST for us.
Maybe you know this, and maybe unlike me, you've never struggled with this battle. Maybe you enjoy a cookie every day and never gain a pound. But, maybe there's something else that you've carried with you for far too long. Maybe there's some other little-g god that has sneakily crept onto the throne of your heart and is demanding your attention, your affection, and your praise. Maybe it's relationships, or your job, or your home, or the approval of that friend who has it all together.
There's something true today for all of us, regardless of which weight we've been carrying. God is the one, true source of Goodness. And there is NO GOOD apart from Jesus Christ.
Getting the dream home, the happily ever after, reaching the goal weight, gaining the followers, or receiving the approval you've craved -- none of these things even compare to the true, untainted, everlasting goodness of our Heavenly Father. He is the best. He is the only true good. And friends, don't miss this: in His kindness and grace and steadfast love for us, He has invited us to come and rest in His goodness! To find everything we need, hope, or long for - in Jesus. He tells us we don't have to carry the weight of the world, but we can experience abundant life by seeking after Him with all our heart, mind and soul.
I have learned a lot in my weight-loss journey over the years. I have learned how to choose better food that nourishes my body and gives me energy. I have learned not to believe that sweet tea and chocolate chip cookies fix anything. And I have recognized my tendency to chase that comfort after a bad day. But even in "mastering" this sin in my life - that is still not the ultimate prize.
The real prize is the opportunity to daily draw near into the presence of my Heavenly Father and lean into Him for strength. The prize is Christ - to see Him magnified and exalted in my life and for those little idols that steal our affection to be thrown down and trampled.
There is nothing more victorious than to stand and say: Jesus - be my everything - you are better and you are enough. Amen and amen!