heart stuff.


I couldn’t think of a title for this post. So I called it heart stuff. You’re welcome.

Recently, I heard a morning radio show host commenting on a woman’s weight loss. She had lost 110 pounds in 10 months by walking 20 minutes everyday. I’m sure there were other changes that accompanied the walking but every bit of emphasis was on this one small change that produced huge effects.

It’s meant to be inspiring. For me, it’s maddening. That is not my story. I have already made a million little differences–at least I feel like I have. And so when I hear that I only have to make ONE! SMALL! CHANGE! I feel defeated. What about all of the other small changes I’ve been making? Even more importantly, why do I fall prey to making one person’s victory a commentary on my own defeat?

The answer comes in staring wide-eyed at the state of my heart. It’s an ugly, gruesome train wreck and I want to look away. I can’t. I’ve been struggling with paralyzing insecurity about my appearance. It’s a bigger mountain than I’ve faced in a long time. But I’m finding hope in a small thought that is going to turn everything upside down if I can get behind it.

I use words that are not in God’s vocabulary. We use words that are not in God’s vocabulary.

Fat. Plump. Skinny. Buff. Failure. Not enough. Damaged. Perfect.

When God looks at us, He sees us through His love. He sees us through Jesus’ mending grace. And I’m just beginning to accept that these are not words He even uses to qualify us. Instead, He sees a beautiful creation that He made without mistake and on purpose, even the weak parts. Instead, He sees the tenor of a heart turned toward Him. Instead, He sees a home to shine through.

He is not interested in making me perfect–where everything is easy and I never know the sorrow of defeat. But He is interested in being perfect IN me.

So. What does all of this mean and what in blue blazes does it have to do with the woman who lost all of that weight? It certainly doesn’t mean excuses. I don’t need to change my body to walk under the beautiful grace and wonder of Christ. I don’t need to lose weight to be more loved by God. Losing weight won’t make me perfect.

But I want to. I want to feel better about myself. I want to know the freedom of making good choices instead of running after bad ones over and over again.

Here is where I confess that if I make it through this summer maintaining where I am it will be a victory. It’s harder here in the humid, loose days of anything goes. And when I heard about that woman I was overcome with defeat. Where is my progress? After all of these years, why can’t it come more quickly for me?

But that’s not how God works. Not always. Sometimes the best step forward we can take is just to plant our stake right there in the midst of the buffeting wind and hold on tight. Just stay put (I’ve been reading Susie Larson’s book Your Beautiful Purpose this summer with some friends. She has some beautiful things to say about standing strong).

As my friend Scooper says, rest is fruitful. In this product and task driven society, it’s easy to fall prey to measuring progress by numbers and evidence. God works on a deeper level. He won’t rush. He makes change at the foundation and He makes it in His time. It’s strong and good and shuffles everything we build upon it.

It requires something of us, though. We have to wait. Even when we want to run ahead, sometimes we have to stay right there in the hard part learning over and over again.

PS-As always, this isn’t easy for me to write about. I cringe. I cringe. I cringe. It’s me. I’m weird. But thank you for being grace to me.

15 thoughts on “heart stuff.

  1. Goodness, this sounds just like something I’d write. Feeling defeated and frustrated because my weight isn’t coming off quickly enough or at all, and instead is still increasing. My heart is an ugly train wreck, too. Some days I just wish I could close my eyes, only to open them and be back to my pre-baby, size 4 self {only… *with* my baby, of course}. I think, “surely, then I won’t struggle with my appearance anymore”. And it’s true, I may no longer struggle with my reflection, but there will always be another something rearing its ugly head, bent on my destruction. *Sigh* But, you’re right, I just need to plant my feet firmly on the ground and declare to the father of lies that “I will not be moved”. In light of these struggles, I’m taking my focus off the rigors of weight loss for a while and instead, focusing on taking better care of myself, in general. In fact, I’m just announced on my blog yesterday that I’m launching a FREE 8-Week Email eCourse on the topic of self-care. Would love to have you check it out: http://www.domesticblissdiaries.com/2013/07/a-weekend-recap-free-ecourse-and.html.

  2. I get so frustrated with the “one small change” stuff when it comes to well-being. It’s not helpful to anyone, and it does get us all out of whack and shattered. My heart wants to keep an eternal perspective but my head says “how I feel about myself depends on what grade I got on Calorie Count.com today.” Thanks for the reminder that wholeness is an important part of this, and that remembering that takes hard work. Thanks for being vulnerable=)

  3. God bless you for your honesty and vulnerability. Please don’t cringe. That quote about someone else’s victory being your defeat? I do it too. Why do we do that?!?

    I am cheering for you and to what end I don’t even know…because I think you’re wise and thoughtful and beautiful and you have the best southern accent ever.

    I think you’re exactly right about our journeys toward tangible goals being about such deeper, intangible stuff. {Because it always is.} Keep waiting. Keep doing your thing. Keep making amazing gourmet salads for your friends who come to visit. : ) Most of all, keep writing. I know that you speak to so many hearts that feel just like your own.

  4. Wow, The Lord and his words spoken through you are so timely Ellen. Today and for the past couple days I have felt so defeated in different ways. The frustrating part about this is I feel defeated by “christians”. We (big I included) so easily give out our “recipe” for godliness when the radical stances we are proposing and standing so strongly by may not even be biblical and lead others astray. I have been having lots of thoughts swarming my mind of what other spiritual people are saying about certain topics and I think more about what they are saying than wrestling and searching the depths of the Lord’s Word on a topic. My husband encouraged me tonight to spend time researching the Word on the topic’s others are influencing me on. I need to almost take a fast! ;) from what others say and just spend time in the word and then weighing what others say by that plumb line. Praise the Lord for new days and fresh beginnings!
    Sorry if this post is vague- just don’t want to get into details that will send me down many rabbit trails! ;) Any way thank you Ellen for being open to share your heart- whether it is our appearance or other issues, we all are struggling and it is healthy to be open to share our cares and imperfections!
    Blessings, Bethany Huss

    • Yes, yes. It is easy to become very prescriptive when it comes to change and identity. God’s grace is so personal and specific and His Word is the best place to go. Sometimes I have to do that, too–tune every other voice out and listen only for His.

  5. What an encouragement! The Lord has totally been dealing with me on self talk and what things I let control my mind as opposed to letting Him really have reign in there. I just read Jessi’s post too, about taking lies captive and telling them the truth. I needed to read both of your posts this morning! I knew I needed encouragement and both of your blogs came to mind. Thank you for writing while cringing and sharing a part of your heart. I love how you say, “God works on a deeper level. He won’t rush. He makes change at the foundation and He makes it in His time. It’s strong and good and shuffles everything we build upon it.” That is the truth. His timing is where it’s at, even when it feels so…hard. The foundational shuffling is exactly what we need. It is mind blowing and life changing, but how amazing to be able to stand firming when everything has settled. I just keep praying for Jesus to continue to pull and rip out the roots of all the lies I’ve built up as truths in my mind. Those things that have kept me from truly seeing the amazing, loving, grace filled nature of my Father. There’s no room for that anymore.

  6. Ellen, these are beautiful words and the truth you articulated can apply to so many areas and seasons of life. May God bless your willingness to share the hard stuff, and thank you for the encouragement to plant a stake and wait fruitfully.

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