Monday, August 15, 2011

Lookin' good

It's amazing to me how un-creative the enemy is, how sneaky my sin is, and how surprised I am when new temptations arise.

If I begin something new, in a matter of weeks the Holy Spirit will be revealing to me how I've begun emphasizing the wrong thing in my initial "want to do good" endeavor. Welcome to Romans 7.

This time, it's vanity.

About a month ago I began working out consistently and just keeping an eye on what I'm eating and at what time. Though I've always technically weighed more than most of my friends because I'm tall and have left over muscle from years of childhood gymnastics, I wasn't looking for results on the scale. The goal was to have more energy during the day and feel better: just tone up a bit. No big deal.

Things were going great; I was seeing the results I was looking for and even sleeping better at night and waking up so refreshed in the morning. There have been far more bonuses than I'd even realized!

Then. Today happened. For some reason, I just felt like I went 4 weeks backwards...felt no different than when I started. Technically gained weight (I think- I hope! due to muscle) and became discouraged. Fed up, actually. To the point of anger: "This is stupid. I don't care anyways. Nevermind."

Thankfully, the Lord does not leave me in my sin. He began prompting and probing my heart. I then started having thoughts like this:

"So, when I was getting what I wanted...the results I wanted...this was all fine and dandy and wonderful. But when I stopped getting what I wanted...this ceased to ever be about wanting to honour the Lord with good stewardship of my body...and became about ME. How I look. How I feel. How I feel about how I look..."

...and I was convicted of my vanity. I became central. I'd made this an idol.

I think being in the hair and make-up industry, the pull towards vanity can be even stronger. My profession is beauty. Making things more beautiful to the eye. Being critical to then "fix" something. I've been praying that I would believe Scripture, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." I've been asking God to grow my fear of Him...and to make me more concerned about my fear of Him than what I look/feel like. I want to prioritize my soul over my body.

And as I've been confessing this today and getting my (wonderful) boyfriend to pray with me and for me, the depth of it has really begun to increase in my eyes. I've noticed that subtly and in fleeting thoughts, I've made someone else's body an idol. "I want to look like THAT."

Now. Is there anything inherently wrong with that thought? I don't think necessarily. Having goals can be wonderful and motivate us-- and being healthy and in shape can be a great thing! But I've been asking myself...what emphasis am I putting on it? Is it in it's right place? Am I COVETING something I don't have? Or am I seeking to honour the Lord with my body; as a temple of His Holy Spirit and trusting that He's being honoured in my journey as I seek to accomplish my goal?

There are many "good" reasons to lose weight and get in shape. A teenager could exercise faithfully to make the team-- seeking to glorify God with her athleticism. A wife could want to tone up to bless her husband. Or a mom might be fighting for energy to play with the kids and (oddly enough) working out seems to be the way to go. Whatever the reason, desiring to be more in shape is not always discontentment.

It's not the "what" we're doing. It's the "why." And its constantly examining our hearts and inviting the Lord into our thoughts as we go that will help us grow in godliness. We can grow nearer to Him, enjoy and treasure the Gospel more, and glorify Him in new ways in our lives by inviting Him in...even to the mundane. Into our work outs. :)

Anyways, I know enough ladies battle vanity that there might be at least one reader that this might hopefully encourage: you're not alone.

May our hearts be fully His as our gaze is on His glory and not our own.