The Seemingly-Endless Recovery

This Monday marked 4 weeks since my second hip surgery. I would love to be able to write something nice and inspirational about my recovery, but the truth is, I’m just over all of it. I’m tired of not sleeping well because of discomfort. I’m tired of using crutches and getting stares from strangers. I’m tired of not being able to carry things. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of physical therapy, and I only started that last week! It feels like I’ve been going through this for a year, not just 4 weeks. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and have all of this behind me, but the reality is, healing takes work. Healing takes time. So I have to keep trying and keep waiting and pray for patience that feels so elusive.

Even as I write this I feel a check in my spirit because I know I’m being ungrateful. I should be grateful that my pain has a solution and hopefully an end date. I should be grateful that I have a wonderful support system in place to help me. I should be grateful that I have insurance that allows me to have good care. And I am truly grateful for those things, but I have let all the things that I’m not grateful for crowd out all of the good.

In these moments I keep coming back to my word for last year, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The Lord wants me to thank Him for ALL things, not just the things I like. Though this seems like an impossible task, if I truly believe that He is sovereign and that all of my life is filtered through His hands, then I can give thanks for all things because He will work them for my good. That means that even stupid crutches are ultimately for my good, as much as I would like to think otherwise. So I will give my grumblings to the Lord and thank Him for making beauty out of a mess.

Same Song, Different Verse

On June 2, Stephen and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. I spent some time that week looking at pictures from our wedding and honeymoon and was reminded anew of how different I looked back then. One picture in particular stood out to me.

On our honeymoon in 2008

On our honeymoon in 2008

I filled up so much of the frame, looked so bloated. Happy, yes, but so very overweight. And while I told myself 2 weeks ago that at least I wasn’t 261 pounds anymore, that thought didn’t console me much because I have seen my weight creep up and know that as much as I tell myself I will never be 261 pounds again, it could happen if I’m not careful.

Gluttony has been my besetting sin, the sin I cannot seem to escape, for all of my life. Food is my drug, the way I self-medicate. Before I’ve finished one meal I’m thinking about what I’ll eat for the next. If I have a bad day, I want to eat. If I’m happy and feel like celebrating something, I want to eat. If I’m stressed, I want to eat. Eating is my response to virtually every emotion I feel. I hardly even know how to separate food from my feelings.

Thus, it’s no surprise that I find myself in the 200s again, wondering how I got here. And it’s not like this is new; I’ve hovered around 200 pounds since last year. I saw the 190s on the scale here and there, especially earlier this year when I was dealing with a mild UC flare (thanks, UC!), but for the most part my weight has consistently been between 200-203. I haven’t liked it there, but I’ve been struggling with so many other aspects of my health (like the aforementioned UC and hip pain that has become chronic in nature) that thinking about weight loss completely overwhelmed me. And to be honest, I didn’t want to give up anything else. I’ve been through a lot these past 2.5 years; don’t I deserve dessert? I had to stop running; can’t I enjoy a nice, fatty dinner? I know that kind of thinking is absurd, but welcome to my world!

Last Wednesday, I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app on my phone and started tracking my calories again. There are a lot of different paths I could take to lose weight, probably one for every pound currently on my body. I chose this one because it’s worked for me in the past and because it’s structured but also gives me a measure of freedom in that I can eat what I want as long as I stay within my calorie range. I’m tracking everything I eat, measuring, and eating appropriate portion sizes. If there’s room in my calorie “budget” at the end of the day, I can choose to have a sweet treat or I can eat something healthier, like an apple or protein shake. It’s not a perfect arrangement, but it’s better than what I was doing, which was eating with little thought given to my choices as long as it tasted good.

In just a few short hours, I’m going to wake up and get on the scale. I don’t know if I’ll see a loss or not. Last Wednesday I saw a number that truly saddened me: 206.4. I hadn’t seen a number that high since early 2009, so I hope that at least the number will be lower than that. But even if it’s not, I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to track my food, try to make good choices, and plead with the Lord to give me self-control at each meal, each day.

The Choice Is Mine

There’s a hymn called “Have Faith in God” that we sang in church on Sunday, and it was one of those moments where I caught myself truly reading and pondering the words. As I did, I felt a lump forming in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes. I know it was the Holy Spirit convicting me and reminding me of the Lord’s faithfulness and of my lack of trust. I have been prone to wander, prone to doubt God’s goodness recently. I’m in the midst of a season where I feel like prayers are going unanswered, where I feel defeated and downtrodden. The pain in my hip is still unresolved, and I feel as though I’ve reached a dead end. I have too often caught myself comparing my life to the lives of those around me, and I end up feeling as though I got the short end of the stick. Even though I don’t want to admit it, I have found myself thinking, “God loves So-and-so more than He loves me. Maybe He doesn’t even love me at all.” If I’m not careful, I start believing those lies and doubting the truth.

In the comparison game, I am always the loser, so perhaps it’s time I stopped playing.

I have taken my eyes off Jesus and placed them on my problems, and that’s just a quick path to bitterness. I don’t want to be bitter. I want to live in joy and gratitude (like my Word for the year encourages me to!). I want to remember all of the good the Lord has done for me (and He’s done so much!). I want to pray about my problems instead of worry about them. I start worrying because I have somehow convinced myself that I will solve things if I just worry about them enough, as if I can worry away a chronic condition or hip pain, as if I have that kind of control! Honestly, the fact that I’m not in control, not even of my own body, drives me crazy. Yes, I can take steps to control certain aspects of my health, but other parts of it are out of my control, and I don’t like that. I can’t control when my body decides to be inflamed or not. I can’t control the pain in my hip. So I can choose to stress and fret and complain (and let’s face it, I do that more than I want to admit), or I can choose to take all of this junk to Someone who is much better-suited to handle all of it, and I can leave it at His feet. He invites me to come to Him. He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It’s like He wrote that just for me! I am so heavy laden, but I don’t HAVE to be. I can find rest when I come to Jesus. I can find peace. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” I’m not going to find peace by throwing pity parties. I’m not going to find peace by trusting in doctors or medicine or food. I will ONLY find peace when I take the focus off myself and place it onto my Savior. He alone is trustworthy at all times, in all things.

This week I will let the words of that hymn be a prayer. I will post them here, as a reminder to myself and anyone else stuck in a difficult season. Take heart, friends. God “watches over His own.”

Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely.
He sees and knows all the way you have trod;
Never alone are the least of His children;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.

Have faith in God when your prayers are unanswered,
Your earnest plea He will never forget;
Wait on the lord, trust His word and be patient,
Have faith in God. He’ll answer yet.

Have faith in God in your pain and your sorrow,
His heart is touched with your grief and despair;
Cast all your cares and your burdens upon Him,
And leave them there, oh, leave them there.

Have faith in God though all else fall about you;
Have faith in God, He provides for His own:
He cannot fail though all kingdoms shall perish.
He rules. He reigns upon His throne.

Refrain:

Have faith in God, He’s on His throne,
Have faith in God, He watches over His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail,
Have faith in God, Have faith in God.

Identity Crisis

Every time I run, I have an identity crisis. Part of me thinks, “It feels so good to be running! I love this!” Unfortunately, that part is often drowned out by the other part of me, which often thinks variations of the following:

I wonder how much my fat is jiggling right now.”
“Is my shirt riding up in the back? I wish I could lose this stinking weight so my clothes would fit better.”
“If I were faster, this run would be over a lot sooner.

Even though I am out there doing the physical activity of running, I often don’t feel like a runner. I don’t look like a runner. I am not skinny. If a stranger were to look at me, I am fairly certain that he or she would not think, “She looks like a runner.” Whenever someone in my “real life” finds out that I run, I immediately grow self-conscious about it and wonder if that person is thinking to themselves that I don’t look anything like a runner.

I know this line of thinking is foolish, as the reality is that no one spends as much time thinking about me as I do. No one really cares whether I run or not. So why do I obsess over how I look, both as a runner and in general?

Last night when Charlotte and I got home, she asked to go run with me. So I changed my clothes, and we set out. We ended up not running much at all and instead walked holding hands. Towards the end of our walk, I challenged her to race me back to the house, and so she started running, hair flying behind her, eyes alight with joy, laughter spilling out of her as I closed in on her. At one point she said, “You’re the fastest ever, Mama!” Even though I knew that to be far from true, my heart was so encouraged. When Charlotte looks at me, she doesn’t know that I don’t look like a stereotypical runner. She just sees her mama, who also happens to run, and she loves me. In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about how I looked or what people would think of my stride or my running posture or my weight. I was too busy caught up in the joy of seeing my daughter love something that I love.

There’s a line in the movie Chariots of Fire, when Eric Liddell describes his passion for running by saying, “When I run, I feel His [God’s] pleasure.” The pleasure of God is what I should be after, not the approval of man. I want to chase after God, and I want Charlotte to do the same.

I pray that Charlotte and I have a lot more runs like these. I pray that I pass on to her a love of running and a love of Christ. And I pray that I can run the race of faith–the only race that matters–well.