Woah, now Emily? Are you saying that exercise is bad? Well, I’m not saying that, but I’m delving into the different mindsets that can go into exercise. Some can be really harmful, and another is very beneficial, life-giving, wonderful, and beautiful. I would be against one mindset, but by God’s grace, my perspective on exercise has been changing especially in the past year.
God made us for a reason.
I didn’t really grasp that reason for a long time. I had to ask myself the other day. ‘Why did I exercise before/during the eating disorder, and how has my thinking changed in the past year of huge leaps in healing and recovery?’
(That feeling after you’ve had an awesome (albeit, a bit painful day) snowboarding for the last time in the season with the sister)
Thinking is powerful. The mind is powerful. God made our minds, yet sin corrupted them. Yet God sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem our minds, souls, and bodies…
How was my thinking wrong about exercise and how has it shifted?
I used to exercise for these reasons:
1. I did it for myself. I did it for me and my personal happiness and fulfillment. It never ultimately made me happy, because I’m flawed. I can’t fill my heart and the deepest needs of my soul. Exercise couldn’t fill that emptiness either.
2. I did it to please others and to make a good impression on them. Yet, that craving for human approval was never satisfied.
3. I did it to eat, but I told myself that I couldn’t eat, because that would ‘hijack’ the fitness plans.
4. I did it for the ‘perfect body’, because I was looking to a worldly, man-made standard of beauty.
5. I exercised to ‘be tough’ or ‘good enough’ for my own standards, but there was this time when I realized that I could never meet these standards, let alone a far bigger standard.
I realized that my body isn’t going to last forever, so there had to be deeper reasons that I was exercising. They couldn’t be for anything on this earth, ultimately.
These verses came home to me in a new, powerful, convicting way in Matthew 6:19-21, ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’
(The best morning bowl ever… Starting out the day with Leah’s Cookie Dough (yes… cookie dough…) granola on yogurt with peanut butter is delicious.)
It was as if God used my eating disorder to show me that my body is not the end all and be all of this life. I was redeemed by the blood of Jesus and saved by His life for a FAR higher and greater purpose than myself. Isn’t that hard to wrap your head around?
I’ve been learning this purpose more and more as I delve into God’s Words to us everyday, and it’s so life giving.
What has the recovery journey been teaching me about physical exercise?
1. I want to boast in something that isn’t about me. ‘Me’ isn’t worth worshipping. I am not god, even though the devil wanted Adam and Eve to think that they could be as ‘gods, knowing both good and evil.’ I don’t control and change people’s hearts, but now I can know the God and Father who does!
I want to boast in the God who made me and redeemed me, in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It’s convicting reading about Paul and his testimony of conversion. Paul was a smart man. He was a highly respected man among the Jews, but when Jesus arrested him on the Damascus road and asked him, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ Paul saw that he couldn’t boast about himself anymore.
Paul found the only person to boast in, and it wasn’t himself. Can I say, ‘Ouch…’
1 Corinthians 2:1-5, ‘And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
2. I want to praise the GIVER of the gifts, not the gifts. So often, I’m tempted to worship things, but things pass away. God doesn’t. He is eternal. He is the Maker, Creator, and I could not possibly list or comprehend all of His amazing attributes here, but He deserves the devotion of my body, mind, soul, and spirit. Food, exercise, and other people don’t deserve my worship.
Ephesians 3:20-21, ‘Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. ‘
Food can’t ‘do anything.’ Exercise couldn’t save me.
3. Don’t exercise because you’re trying to please people. Exercise to please and praise the Creator who made you. That puts a height of glory and joy and peace into exercise that you won’t ever experience if you’re trying to please a human being. People’s opinions rise and fall, but God never changes. When God sees me in Christ, He doesn’t see me but the righteousness of Christ that covers me. That means I don’t have to ‘exercise’ in order to be good enough, beautiful enough, dependable enough, but Christ is all in all. I can be free to exercise in order to enjoy, to use my body for His glory, not for my glory, but for the praise of Him who made my body in such a fearful and wonderful way.
Isn’t it wonderful that we can live for far greater a purpose than to try to please ourselves or other people?
Psalm 96:4-9, ‘For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.’
4. Last, but certainly not least, I’m not against exercise at all… In fact I love to be active. But I can’t ultimately do it for a beautiful body. Don’t get me wrong. I deeply desire, by God’s grace alone, to take care of my body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6, 1 Corinthians 2:12), and as someone who is led by the Holy Spirit, not by any sin or temptations, but it’s not my ultimate goal to preserve this body forever. I know it won’t last forever.
5. What keeps me going on the exercise journey now?
Simply put, it’s this. 2 Corinthians 5 talks about the expectation of heaven. It’s heaven that keeps me going on this journey, because it’s a beautiful goal that I can’t imagine. I want to live every moment with that expectation of getting a new body someday. I don’t want to walk around with glumness, doubt, condemnation, and guilt, because life with the comfort of the Spirit in my soul isn’t guilt and despair. It’s joy. It’s joy despite the circumstances. It’s rejoicing in the Lord always, when I’m doing a work-out, resting, or eating a meal with my family, or ____ (fill in the blank.) I can’t live under the constant pressure to ‘be my savior’ because Jesus is my Savior, and He completed the work that I could never do.
I can exercise now, not because I’m going to have the perfect body here. I won’t have the perfect body, but God reveals His rich grace in the weakness of my body. I’ve learned to not push my body beyond its limits, because I am limited. I’m weak, but He is strong. I get cast down, but He lifts me up. I falter, but He is the strength of my heart, and I want to use all that I have of this body for Him. I know that He will give me the strength to do the exercise, the activity I do, and I know that He gives rest and perfect peace in His presence. Someday, I won’t have this body with all its aches and pains and by His grace alone, I can go to be with Jesus, worship Him, stand before Him, and rejoice in seeing the perfection that I won’t know fully here on this earth.
2 Corinthians 5:1-2, ‘For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven…’
With that, GO and exercise or rest or eat for God’s glory!
- Don’t feel pressured to do a certain exercise. Instead, think, “How can I use my body for the glory of the One who made it?’ That’s what you were created for, and Jesus came so we could be reconciled to Him, SAVED from our lost estate, and use our bodies, hearts, souls, minds, and strengths for such a glorious purpose.
- You’re going to get a new body someday, so it’s okay to admit that your body isn’t perfect in this world. Realize that you are weak. Realize that He is strong. Realize that God provided the way of salvation, and that man or any exercise you do will never save you. Just as Paul reminded the Romans in Romans 1, ‘The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.’ It’s not our power, and that is what so glorious. It’s God’s power, and He changes us. We can’t change ourselves or our mindsets, but God DOES through the power of His Holy Spirit and the redeeming atonement of His Son.
- Don’t forget to enjoy God’s world, enjoy and praise God when you exercise. It makes exercise so much lighter, more peaceful, and amazing!
The most freeing thing about not having exercise as the center of my life is that I’m realizing the freedom to enjoy so many other things like:Yes…. Peanut butter. 🙂 This is more peanut butter. Don’t laugh, but I think God gave me an extra taste-bud that really likes nut butter. Hence the ‘Quest for the Best Nut Butters’ review I posted this week. I’m thinking I may go dig into the Nut Butter Nation Dark Chocolate right now for a little night snack? Stay tuned for a review …. very soon. 🙂
Does anybody see the turkey? I saw the turkey on the side of the road as I was driving, so I SAFELY stopped and took a picture. Who else likes turkeys? What is your favorite bird?
Thankful for dinners when you are a mild version of ‘hangry.’ I wasn’t actually angry, but this dinner did taste really good after snowboarding with the sister for a few hours yesterday.
With that, I hope this was a blessing to you. Please know that I’m not condemning anyone who exercises or doesn’t exercise. Rather, I wanted to share the struggles I’ve had on doing exercise for the right reasons. Exercise is a gift, but because I idolized it, it became a monster.
God redeems us from idols, and I wanted to share that God can redeem you from ANY idol that threatens to overcome you. Because Jesus conquered, these idols have no more dominion over us.
Why do you exercise?
Has your mindset towards exercise changed over the years?
Do you think American culture has a good attitude towards exercise?