Remember my thought spill from a couple of weeks ago? If not, feel free to read it here. Let’s also go ahead and be upfront about the fact that I overthink things. But God is good.
Even though that post ends with a more positive, seemingly triumphant mantra, not much changed. But, God in His goodness, is making things new.
One day, recently, I tearfully confessed to J a realization:
I believed being fit was a necessary standard to meet if I wanted to please God — being the right amount of pounds for my height, being able to run or bike many miles, the discipline to dedicate 30+ minutes a day to exercise (because this is what culture deems good enough).
Don’t get me wrong, exercise is a great way to deepen enjoyment of life and to take care of our bodies, but it’s not a prerequisite for love, from God or people.
And I don’t even think it pleases God if you’re miserable with yourself, working for the glory of you or using exercise to avoid something difficult or uncomfortable. There is not right or wrong size of a person, but there is a point that for you is unhealthy and unhelpful to your life.
Being fit, or the number on the scale as a result of exercise, doesn’t equate godliness (1 Timothy 4:8). If it did, what would that mean for those who can’t exercise, for those bound to a sick or aging body? That doesn’t make sense.
I don’t think exercise is a prerequisite for a full life in Christ — it’s more a bonus of this temporary home.
Shauna Niequist, in her latest book Present Over Perfect, makes this declaration:
This is the promise I make to my God: I will never again be so careless, so cavalier with the body and soul you’ve given me. They are the only things in all the world that have been entrusted entirely to me, and I stewarded them poorly, worshiping for a time at the altars of productivity, capability, busyness, distraction. This body and soul will become again what God intended them to be: living sacrifices, offered only to him. I will spend my life on meaning, on connection, on love, on freedom. I will not waste one more day trapped in comparison, competition, proving, and earning. That’s the currency of a culture that has nothing to offer me.
Talking about Romans 12:1-2, John Piper says, “You belong to God soul and body, or you don’t belong to him at all. Your body matters.” To me, this screams freedom.
God cares about my body, He created it uniquely to house my heart, soul, and mind, and to make His beauty visible. To make His love tangible for people. He doesn’t shine through my muscles, curves, or how much space I take up, but through the way I act.
John Piper challenges me again,
“Let every act of your living body be a demonstration that God is your treasure. Let every act of your living body show that Christ is more precious to you than anything else. Let every act of your living body be a death to all that dishonors Christ.”
This releases fitness and body image from being an arena to compare or compete or prove, to a place of fun and freedom, a living and active sacrifice!
After this beautiful realization, I asked God, now that I have a better perspective on exercise, why should I spend the time sweating and challenging myself in this way?
This was the answer: For my husband, for our home, for our future.
- For my husband, because while I believe he will always think of me as beautiful, it doesn’t hurt for me to offer a little help. So I’ll take care of myself with activities I enjoy and beneficial foods, to help continually enjoy each other.
- For our home, to energetically clean our home, keep up with the dishes and laundry, keep our herbs and plants from dying. To happily make it a hospitable and safe place to host loved ones, to use it as a resource to be generous. In my experience, strength and energy help in these areas.
- For our future, taking care of my body because it will eventually be a home for a tiny human one day. I want to give them their best chance also, and it’s up to me because they will be growing inside of my body. The body I can choose to not care about, to treat poorly, or the body I can strengthen and enjoy.
All of that to say, if you’ve come at a crossroads with your body, or your exercise, or if you want to pick up activity for the first time, ask God to give you your own personal reasons and joy in it. Yours will look different than mine, and mine will look different than someone else’s.
It’s good, and I hope God continues to get the glory from our bodies.