Tag Archives: happiness

Finding God in a cold

19 Sep

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Being sick makes me whiny. Self-pitying. Lazy. Indulgent. Compromising.

I sleep in instead of reading the Bible – because “only sleep will help me get better.”

I don’t pray because if I don’t have the energy for a “real” prayer, it doesn’t actually count.

I hunker down in my own little world, waiting for the sickness to blow over.

“Once I’m better, I’ll get back to normal life.”

Then this verse hit me this morning:

“And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your ¬†bones strong…” (Isaiah 58:11).

Being sick makes me feel like I’m in a scorched place. A place where I don’t enjoy being awake. A place where I really dislike having to go to work.

God can satisfy me even here.

I had categorized sickness apart from trials. But in reality, sickness is a trial. And if I let all the little trials of this life drive me from God, I won’t be near God very much.

Once again, God is showing me that I need to draw near to Him in times of need, based solely on my Savior’s blood. I don’t need to earn His blessing through my prayers. I can’t earn His blessing.

The question isn’t whether I’m spending time in the Word instead of sleeping, or reading Christian books instead of watching TV, or praying for others instead of for myself while I’m sick. The question is: am I still pursuing God?

Most of the time, the answer is no.

Pursuing God feels like work. It feels like something I need energy for. Something that needs to be done all-or-nothing style. I’d rather just lay on the couch and not think.

“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

God does not set unrealistic standards for me, like I do for myself. I’m the one giving the guilt trip. I’m the one saying that it’s all or nothing.

God says that whatever I have to give is enough. He wants my constant affection, not my perfectionism.

Anytime my perfectionism keeps me from going to God, a red flag should go up. There are no obstacles to God in Christ.

None. Not sickness. Not death. Not failure. Not sin.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Hiking is Humbling.

16 Sep

It’s no secret that I’m not a fast swimmer, biker or runner. When I tell people that I do triathlons, I always mention that I do them “for fun” and not for “breaking any records.” When people ask if I did well in a particular race, I usually say, “Yes… for me,” I guess to avoid the misrepresentation that I won an award or something.

And for the most part, I’ve come to accept the fact that I will never be “fast” relative to other triathletes. I mean, the female winners from these races do the swim in less than 1/2 the time it takes me (I’m too lazy to figure out what their speed is), their average bike pace is usually somewhere around 20 mph, and their average run pace is somewhere around 6-7 minutes/mile. Yeah, I can’t compete with that.

So what’s an athlete like me to do?

It all comes down to the PRs – Personal Records. Trying to better your time for a certain distance. This presents a problem with the sprint triathlon distance, as hardly any race is the same as the next (though the most official distance is exactly half of an Olympic).

Yeah, I haven’t been good at that either. My half marathon times have progressively gotten slower and my triathlon times are pretty much in that boat as well.

Ok, I can deal with that. I’m still getting out there, having a good time. Plus, I’m willing to sacrifice the PRs in order to maintain my sanity and balance.

But then there are situations that just steam me. Like hiking on the Eaglesmere Trail. Or hiking Pancake Rocks. Or hiking in North Carolina.

Ok, hiking in general.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll keep saying it – I can be in the best shape of my life and still cough, wheeze, and drag up a hill on a hike.

And it pisses me off.

It’d be one thing if the hike was challenging and everyone else was coughing, wheezing and dragging up right with me. But no, they’re just floating up the hill, without a single bead of sweat staining their brow or even so much as a slight increased need for oxygen.

Ok, maybe that’s just Travis.

But seriously, whenever I go hiking, it seems like everyone else is in better shape than I am. 

Which also would be fine if I knew that they were. If they were out there running marathons and doing Ironmans, and busting out 10 hours of intense exercise a week, I’d hand it to them. I’d applaud them.

But usually they’re not.

Usually they’re like Travis – they do intentional exercise 2-3 times a week, but usually only for about 30-45 minutes.

Sometimes they don’t exercise regularly at all.

And then here I come, all puffed up with my “I just did an Olympic triathlon” and “I ran 7 miles 3 weeks ago” attitude, and wilt like a frickin’ popsicle on pavement walking up the hill.

These were my thoughts during our NC Labor Day hike:

Wait, isn’t this a lower elevation than Denver? Doesn’t that mean I should be able to sprint all the way to the top?

Wait, isn’t Sarah pregnant? Didn’t she just say that she hasn’t worked out in 4 months due to nausea? How then is she beating me up this hill?

I did not handle that situation well in the moment. Instead, I got huffy as I puffed slowly up the mountain. I eventually got over it at the top but I’d like to eventually get over it before it starts.

I mean, this is a ridiculous problem. But such is the nature of pride. You try to squelch it in one form, and it pops up in another. Just as soon as I came to grips with being a slow triathlete, I became enraged at being a slow hiker.

My mentally unstable way of thinking is that I’ve put so much effort and time into getting to where I am today that it is totally unfair that other people (like my husband) are so naturally athletic. Travis could sit on the couch for a month and go out and run faster than I could if I did intense speed work for 6 months. (Ok, this is just a conjecture because Travis couldn’t sit still that long and I will never do intense speed work for 6 months. But still, I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

But in the end, my hiking handicap is really a blessing in disguise. If it hadn’t been for my completely unnecessary anger outburst in North Carolina, I wouldn’t have come to the realization (yet again) that my identity is wrapped up in how “athletic” and “in shape” I am. I want people’s praise for doing triathlons. I want people to think I’m a mean, lean, triathloning machine. I don’t want them to see that I still struggle up the side of a hill or that I’m not invincible. I don’t want to show weakness.

God knows that I constantly go to things other than Him to try to prove that I’m worth something, that I’m someone special (try being the operative word). But that way of life will leave me constantly dissatisfied and jealous of other people. Instead of being able to appreciate the talents God has given other people, I end up scheming in the corner about how to make myself just as good (or drowning my sorrows over not being just as good).

I’m like this with a number of things: clothes, success, body size. Measuring myself against others. Feeling good if I measure up. Feeling horrible if I don’t.

Our women’s book study just started at church for the fall and I chose to go through Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I’m really praying that this study will help free me from these struggles (because regardless of the specific struggle, it all comes from the same source of dissatisfaction) and release me into the freedom of embracing who God created me to be – body shape, quirks, slowness and all – in order that I might appreciate and love others for who they are. God has made each of us unique masterpieces (like snowflakes!) and I am missing out if I can’t appreciate another woman without competing with her.

Hopefully I’ll have some updates later on.

As for the triathlon tomorrow, I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do it. You’ll have to stay tuned!

Free to love God in all circumstances.

10 Feb

After being reminded of truth last weekend, my time at work has been much better. When tempted to get annoyed or frustrated, I remind myself of truth – that I can glorify God regardless of circumstance and that being gracious and patient is glorifying to Him.

I have been reading Waking the Dead by John Eldredge and his whole book is based around the quote by St. Iphnaeus, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” For several months, I have struggled with an Ecclesiastes perspective on life: everything is vain and a striving after the wind. Why eat? Why make the bed? Why buy clothes? Why enjoy music? Why exercise? It’s all seemed so pointless and such a waste of time.

But John Eldredge says that it is through the heart reawakened by the Spirit of Christ that we truly connect with God. Living life fully is doing what you love, seeing those things as gifts from God and revelations of Him. I have wanted to believe that for so long but it seemed to good to be true.

Tonight at care group, the worship leader, Cathy, thanked God for revealing Himself to us through sunrises, songs, and Scripture. I recalled reading in The Sacred Romance (another John Eldredge book) a long time ago about God wooing us, about Him speaking to our hearts through specific, tangible things. Again, this seems to good to be true.

But then again, it’s God. Nothing with Him is too good to be true because things more amazing than I can imagine are true with Him. He proved that with the gospel. “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” Including love notes throughout the day. Including pleasurable moments, little things that we enjoy.

John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead, “Everything you love is what makes a life worth living… A life filled with loving is a life most like the one that God lives, which is life as it was meant to be.” This makes sense to me, because if God’s glory is shone in a man (or woman) fully alive, then their heart is engaging with the things of this world around them.

Just as Travis and I were driving home from care group tonight, I was telling him how freeing it was to know that enjoying things in this world is good because they reveal God. I am free to enjoy things because of what they represent – they are the shadow but the substance is to come.

More than that, God has created me specifically to like certain things. There is a reason why I like sunrises, spring mornings, summer nights, grapenuts with bananas, honey and yogurt. He designed me to love reading, writing, and to have deep thoughts (sometimes deeper than I’d like). He created me to be more of a one-on-one person than a crowd person. He created me to be better at thinking through writing than speaking. He decided that I would prefer individual sports like running and triathlons over team sports. He gave me my love for funny movie lines, cute animals, and my wonderful husband (who cooked soup for tonight’s care group!).

The enemy wants to keep my heart indifferent or apathetic. He wants me to drift along in this life, skirting the fringe, finding no meaning or value in anything. He doesn’t want me to engage, doesn’t want my heart to feel. I will close with these quotes from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis:

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made all the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable.”

“The deepest likings and impulses of any man are the raw material, the starting-point, with which the Enemy has furnished him. To get him away from those is therefore always a point gained; even in things indifferent it is always desirable to substitute the standards of the World, or convention, or fashion, for a human’s own real likings and dislikings.”