STOP GIVING UP

By Lisa Huddleston

32636_10200983346923055_1308627103_nLike many of you, I usually take a look at my iPhone before even getting out of bed in the morning. Just to catch up on what I missed during the night–awful, I know. Anyway two posts (one on Facebook and the other on Twitter) grabbed my attention right away. The first was this annoying but true photo message: “If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.” I wanted to reach into my phone and slap my “friend” for posting it. (Love you, Diana.) And the second message was a Tweet from Rick Warren which said, “Every time you make a bad choice, it becomes harder to make a good one.” Ugh.

Why is it that even when the truth is truly true it can still make me want to argue against it when it isn’t something I want to hear? Today I just felt like giving up. Yeah. I wanted to stay in bed until 10 or 11, eat whatever I wanted to whenever I wanted to, and generally give up on any attempts to exercise. I felt weary of swimming upstream–literally and figuratively.

Instead I read the handwriting on the screen and got up. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with my coffee, bagel, a thought-provoking Stott devotional, and the last few chapters of a good book (another Walker Percy–I need to write about him sometime soon). By then it was time to make a choice: to exercise or not to exercise? That was THE question for today.

There was a Zumba class at noon that I have been attending for a few weeks that I had been planning to go to. I’d even passed up an invitation to hang out with some friends in order to go. But, today I just didn’t feel like dancing. Instead, making a tough choice, I dressed to bike, filled my water bottle, and struck out from the garage to take a familiar route. It was HOT (I had waited too late to avoid the heat) and the first big hill on Cedar Grove just about sent me home. In spite of my social media inspiration, I didn’t make it up the hill without quitting. Cursing myself out loud for being such a lazy fatso–yes, I talk to myself when I’m worked up–I pushed the dang bike to the crest then drank some cool water, kicked my butt back up on the tiny bike seat, and pushed the pedals. And I kept going and going and going. I even added about 7 more miles to the ride by taking a new route up Berea Church Road and lots more hills. And it felt sooooooo good–when I finally got home and could get off that bike in victory.

Isn’t that so often the way it is? Something may be really hard to do (THE question is different for each one of us), and it really doesn’t feel great while you’re doing it (the “right” thing), but afterwards you rejoice. And the opposite is also true. It may feel great to eat a cream-filled, chocolate-covered eclair or a delicious, warm apple fritter from the local bakery at the time you’re eating it, but later the regret can be overwhelming. And the price you pay for the bad choice (extra pounds, more exercise required, guilt, etc.) just isn’t worth it.

While you and I both know there’s nothing wrong with an eclair now and then, it’s the general drift that really counts. The direction your choices are leading you. Recently my pastor said something like, “It’s not where you are when God calls you that’s important–it’s the direction you’re facing that matters.” And I can agree.

A beautiful view on my new bike route.

A beautiful view on my new bike route.

Tired of starting over? I am. Next Monday or next week or when I finish this bag of chips or bottle of wine or see that person one more time or … whatever you’re postponing the truth for isn’t worth it. Make a good choice today (and hopefully tomorrow and the next day) and turn your momentum in the right direction. I promise, it’ll feel soooooo good once it’s done.

AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF

By Lisa Huddleston

I have learned a great deal about listening to my body over the past few years.  A serious bout with depression will do that for a person.  Happily, and thanks to those who love me, I won that battle; but the dragon still breathes smoke and there are times when I struggle to clear the air.  As one would expect, the holidays and all the activity that accompanies them can be a very smoky time.  It is important for me to pace myself, to schedule alone time, to think and to write.

I know.  I know.  I have not been doing these things very well lately.  But some much needed time in the Word opened my eyes.  “For the commandments … are all summed up in this one commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  If I were to try that lately, my neighbor wouldn’t be very happy with me.  What if I paid no attention to my neighbor’s schedule, her needs, her wants, her passions and just ran in and out of her life whenever I chose?  I don’t think she would want to be my neighbor for very long.  One of us would have to go!

This greatest commandment is predicated on the assumption that we love ourselves well.  Yet, how many of us are doing that?  Are you making time to keep your body healthy by eating well and exercising?  Are you keeping your mind engaged in challenging thoughts and deep discussions?  Are you allowing yourself the privilege of rest?  Are you treating yourself as you would a much loved friend?

I tend to push too hard.  I push myself, and I want to push others.  Goals beckon me like the star called the wise men.  But wisdom is not always involved in my choices.  I am learning though.  I need peace.  I need rest.  In order to love my neighbor as myself and have it be a good thing, I must learn to love myself.

Choices.  It is all about choice.  I will not add another day to my volunteer job—yet.  I will allow myself an occasional nap—even though I feel guilty taking it.  I will write—there are thoughts I need to think.  I will make time for friends—not hoards but a few special ones.  I will listen to music and look at paintings and ponder poetry.  I will call for help when the smoke sends its sneaky tendrils into the corners of my mind and let others open the windows to the crisp, clear air of winter.

And I will love my neighbor as myself.