On Ash Wednesday, it's customary for Christians to begin a Lenten seasonal "fast". In recent years it has become very trendy to join in on the festivities as people of all faiths and denominations claim to be giving something up. Of course the ideology behind this fasting time is to motivate spiritual evaluation and deepen a relationship with God. I think sometimes, however, people join the whole fasting bandwagon out of amusement. A lot of folks choose things related to food or drink, in an effort to also improve their health during this spiritual time of meditation. Some people may even choose to give up things like facebook or TV *gasp*.
I don't always join in on the Lenten fasting, because I refuse to do something out of forced routine or habit. I want it to be a devoted decision with intentional spiritual effort. This year, however, I'm cautiously entering the season with a specific spiritual task at hand.
To explain, I must go back to January 1st.
I refused to make a New Year's "resolution" but purposed myself to begin viewing myself differently. If you have been reading my blog for awhile, then you may recall a post written over the summer regarding my self-esteem (found here: http://gaffner.blogspot.com/2011/07/radiance-over-shame.html). I have had a negative body image for as long as I can remember and no matter how often I have actively sought to change it, I cannot seem to shake the negative words and thoughts that I speak to myself. Over Christmas break, however, I did a vintage photo shoot with a young woman in Lansing, MI (at my husband's request). I was nervous, a tad bit uncomfortable, and worried about how bad I would look. After posing in a vintage swimsuit and a "Leave it to Beaver"-esque dress... I was quite pleased with the pictures. In fact, I looked at them and thought, "wow, I don't look that bad". At that moment I realized how much I beat myself down. The inner dialogue I have is not only self-defeating but was seriously hurting my relationships with others. So I decided, that no matter what, this year I am going to speak words of encouragement and beauty to myself.
In an effort to be pro-active, our family joined the local YMCA mid-January and the kids and I have become regularly attending members. I daily have to remind myself that I am not working out to lose weight, but to get healthy. It is so easy to get fixated on "losing weight" that you forget the goal is fitness, not weight loss. My downfall happened the first week in the Ladies lockeroom when I saw it. Sitting near the sink, looking seemingly harmless and shiny. It called to me and I stepped on it. The scale.
I have stepped on the vicious scale many times since that first day and every time the number discourages me. Why? Because I have decided that the number reflected on that scale determines my health and fitness level. And it doesn't. I am losing inches. I am gaining muscles. I feel great. Until I see that number.
For that reason, this Ash Wednesday, I am choosing to give up the scale.
I know to some that sounds like a small thing to sacrifice. But for me it is much more than just a source of measurement. I am allowing that thing, that cheap piece of plastic and metal to determine my happiness. I have effectively made an "idol" of the scale (been reading lots about idols in the book of Exodus... they are NO good, in case you were wondering).
So this girl is saying BYE BYE to the dirty ol' scale. I'm saying BYE BYE to measuring myself. (This picture below is not me, just so ya know... lol)
I am going to refocus myself on the task at hand.
Which is, measuring myself by God's standards. And guess what? He thinks I'm beautiful, just the way I am.
The trip to the "Y" is one of my favorite parts of the day. But not because I am looking for numbers. I am looking for health. And by ditching that scale, I hope to do more than improve my physical heart but to work on improving my overall spiritual and emotional health. Placing the focus, not on myself, but on the One who made me this season.
A healthy heart... that is the goal.