Tag Archives: satisfaction

Finding God in a cold

19 Sep


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!

Defined by God

1 Jun

I had a rough weekend. I was at a timing event on Saturday and the whole morning of setup went really well. When the race started, I felt really good about how things were going. Then athletes started crossing the finish line and I realized we were missing quite a few of their chips. But there was no time to fix it. We were also having problems with the PA system and the announcer function (which we almost always have problems with).

Amazingly, though, Megan and I made it through and I recovered most of the athletes’ finish times using our manual backup system. We packed up the car and got on the road back to Denver.

I got my computer out in the car to work on posting the results. When I opened the results file, though, I was shocked. The results were absolutely horrible. We were missing splits left and right. Something had happened with the timing equipment at the transition area. What was I going to do?

After talking to my boss, Brent, I spent the rest of the 8-hour car ride home fixing the splits that I could. Then I spent another 3.5 hours on Sunday morning. After finally getting the results posted, I braced myself for all of the scathing emails I would receive from athletes.

I still got those but I also got one from the race director (he had actually sent it to Brent, who forwarded it to me with no comment). The race director was very unhappy – with how the PA system had worked, how the announcer function had worked (or more, had NOT worked), and most of all, with the lack of splits. He told Brent that he felt like he was paying for second stringers and that the timing team at his race seemed very inexperienced. But the email wasn’t in a mean tone and I really can’t blame Greg for being frustrated at the situation. All of the stuff he mentioned happened and I could only do my best with the situation.

But I’d be lying if I said that his comments didn’t bother me. No one likes to hear that someone is disappointed and dissatisfied with their performance. I have definitely looked at, thought out, and analyzed this past race from every possible angle. In hindsight (which is always 20/20), there are a few things I should have done differently. And as I’ve learned over the past 3 months, in this business, little mistakes can cost you big. They did for me on Saturday.

As I got in the word this morning, I was reminded of Bethlehem Baptist Church’s mantra: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. In the midst of this tough work situation, where my reputation and work performance have clearly been questioned, I can be most satisfied in God by remembering that I am valuable and precious because God says I am. I don’t have to look to this world for validation and I am not defined by what I do wrong – or right. I am defined by Who died for me and what He says about me.

Because of God’s grace, I feel very blessed right now to have the Christian community and loving husband I do. I will make it through this and I will have learned and grown as a result. Trial by fire.

No other gods

21 Jun

I was reading 2 Kings 17 this morning (part of my Bible reading plan) and part of it caught my eye. In that chapter, the King of Assyria exiles the Israelites (part of God’s plan because of their disobedience and idolatry). The nations who went to live in Samaria in place of the Israelites were taught by one of the Israelite priests how to fear the LORD. But the nations still worshiped the gods they had gotten from other nations. “So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.” (v. 33) The LORD’s commandment had been (and still was) “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall fear the LORD.” (v. 35)

How many times as I like those nations? I fear the LORD but still serve my other gods–approval of man, thinness, wealth, beauty, comfort, ease, success. Am I sacrificing to those other gods? As I giving things up to have them, because they will make me happy? Is life found in them?

Reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis has made me think about the resurrection of my earthly body and my longing to be glorious, as shown in my struggle with my body image. Just as I am content with fewer earthly possessions because of the eternal payoff of giving money to the church and ministries, so I can be content with a less-than-perfect body now because I will get a perfect and glorious one in heaven.

We aren’t meant to be satisfied here! Our dissatisfaction here isn’t supposed to drive us to greater and greater measures to make ourselves happy–more diets, more possessions, more experiences. Our dissatisfaction is supposed to drive us to God and the satisfaction only found in Him. It is supposed to drive us to find comfort in the hope of the gospel:

“…with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body… Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 49)

So when I am struggling and wishing I were thinner or my stomach were flatter, I will remind myself that someday I WILL have the body I’ve always wanted–in heaven. That will make heaven even sweeter.