Wednesday, March 4, 2015

God Smack Part Two Gazillion and Ten

Today, I was sitting at my desk waiting for Word to open. I needed to print out my copy of a letter for my doctor that I had written a few weeks ago as I prepared for an appointment that I've been delaying and dreading more than I can say.  It just does not follow the script I'd imagined. After my last appointment, I was full of enthusiasm and determination.  I was going to TAKE CONTROL and CHANGE MY BODY and SUCCEED.  I was sure that the next time I saw the doctor, I would be on the road to health, weight loss, vim, and vigor.  Instead, I am not in that place. Instead, I was dreading another appointment where my health provider and I both have to acknowledge that I'm not where I need to be.  Another humiliation.  Another failure.

 As I waited, I picked up the March issue of Magnificat  and said, in an offhand but snarky and challenging way, "OK, Lord.  What word do you have for me today?"  My question was casual just so God would know that I was in on the fact that he doesn't really pay attention to my petty problems.  God suffers with people affected by floods, fires, world hunger, and war, certainly, but he's far to busy to listen to me in my comfortable life and my oh-so-first-world problems.  They bore and frustrate even ME, let alone the maker of the stars.  It was challenging because I am pretty pissed off at being where I am today and I think God SHOULD care about my problems, even if they are important only to me.  So there (raspberry)!  (Sorry, God, but you know how I am).

Anyway, while looking for today's reading, I turned to the meditation that Magnificat gave for yesterday -- from St. Ephrem the Syrian.  

It got my attention. It made me want to cry.  

St. Ephrem says, shouting at me from 4th century Syria:

So, friends, could it be any more clear?  I challenged the Lord to speak to me where I was today -- full of anger and shame and bitterness because I was going to be HUMILIATED in front of someone whose good opinion I wanted.  And the reading I stumbled upon was all about HUMILITY.  Hence, God Smack Part Two Gazillion and Ten

Several of St. Ephrem's thoughts jumped right out at me.  
  • The enemy's snares are smeared with honey.  He who is attracted by the sweetness of the honey becomes caught in the snares and filled with all manner of woe.  I think that's shooting a fairly accurate arrow at someone who struggles with weight, don't you?
  • Arrogance is like a very tall but rotten tree.  All of its branches are brittle.  The source of my whole angst surrounding this doctor's visit is pride.  I should be able to fix this problem, by dint of hard work and perseverance, dammit.  And wouldn't I be so proud of myself when I paraded in to the doctor to receive my justly won congratulations at having done so well?  
  • Let us strive for sober attention, that we might recognize our sins and be constantly humbled... that we might preserve the temple entrusted to us undefiled by sinful corruption.  Well,being constantly humbled by my own failure to lose weight is something that I can say is definitely a mortification.   And it is true that I am interested in preserving the temple of my body undefiled by the sinful corruption of citrus glazed pound cake and its unholy companions of ice cream, Tex-Mex, and lasagne.
  • Wondrous is prayer accompanied by sighs and tears, especially if the tears are shed in secret... Weep before the Lord, that he might shine upon you the illumination of knowledge and grant that with an ardent heart you might be carried up to him.  That just killed me.  Just laid me flat out on my back.  Because...
Last week, I went to a healing mass at a local church.  It was an absolutely magnificent experience, and that is coming from someone a little suspicious of charismatic anything. But a friend I trusted assured me it wasn't too kooky and I had also heard some good things about it from another friend. 

I was curious.  Most importantly, I so acutely feel my need for God's mercy and healing.  I've been trying for so long to integrate the head, the heart, and the body.  I've been trying so hard to come to some peace here.  Everything I've done has been in vain and has showed me that I am not sufficient unto myself.      

Right before I left for the healing mass, I came across this post from The Anchoress, a blogger I really admire.  It stirred me so much that I actually wrote to thank her and effused all over the page, saying,

I was thinking about it the other day and using almost the very same terms as you did about the frivolity and vanity of asking God to help me lose weight.  But then I thought about the very real spiritual anchor that this problem, this cross, is for me -- how it makes me feel frustrated, angry, self-hating, ashamed, and worthless.  I started to think that Satan really must love this about me because it does prevent me from being the person that God calls me to be -- integrated body, soul, emotions, and mind.  Instead, I carry my failure around with me for everyone to see.  I've trained myself to "not think about" or  "not care" about how others perceive me and I have lived so long in my head that I'm utterly divorced from the only body God has given me.  This is so sad.  I know that it's counterproductive and unhealthy and I am working on it. 

But, at last, I'm tired of saying that I'm "working on it". I want to see a real change in my inner life -- one that enables me to see myself as God sees me and challenges me to be what he is calling me to become.  As a side effect, that might bring change to my outer form, but it's the integration of soul and body that I'm looking for.  So, thank you for the God smack delivered at your hands and please pray for me as I will for you.  
 I don't want to go into detail about what I experienced at mass, save that it was precious.  But, St. Ephrem's words about tears shed in secret -- I ended up in front of the Blessed Sacrament, which was exposed on the altar, completely prone and totally begging for God's mercy, totally begging for him to heal me and to integrate body, soul, mind, and heart.  Recognizing that I can't do anything without him.  Utterly hollowed out and with recourse only to him.  As I melted into the stone, the musicians started playing Lord of All Hopefulness.  It was a benediction and a promise, I know.  Another God Smack -- one which I really appreciate.

And when I rose from my position there in front of the altar, I saw the pools of tears I'd left as an offering.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Vision Board

At my alma mater, one of the big traditions was the bacchanalian celebration of Groundhog Day.  Bonfires, beer, music, middle-of-the-night dancing in the woods adjoining campus, and going to class to discuss Aristotle or Wordsworth while a little um, indisposed, made us feel daring and adventurous, transgressive in ways that our mostly tame and studious lives didn't allow.  We even were able to put the whole thing in the context of carnivale, that time of year when everything was topsy-turvy and different -- a needed break to the social convention.  Mostly, it was exciting and fun.  One of the parts of getting ready for Groundhog that I liked a lot was decorating my Groundhog ticket -- each one was a mini-collage of innuendo and jokes.

Tonight, I experienced some of that same sense of fun when I completed my "Sparktask" -- making a collage that expressed my weight loss, fitness, and motivational goals for the coming year.  Here's mine:

There are a few things that I think are notable about this collage.  First, it's very word-centric.  There are not many images at all, which really reflects how my brain works.  I'm not a visual learner and I'm not drawn to images in the same way that my siblings are -- they are all really great artists.  I only have two images in the entire collage, which I think defeats the purpose of collage -- not sure.  The images I've included are of a middle-aged woman walking with the caption "I live to look good and feel better" and of a walking shoe.  Everything else is purely textual.  

Some of my favorites are:
"Make today fun."  "History Repeats Itself" with "Repeats" crossed out.  5K to 10K (a big goal for me this year).  "How good can you feel?"  and "Food for thought:  Spread the joy".  

I think it's interesting that while some of these texts refer to exercise, only one refers to food -- "You're thinking about everything you eat".  In fact, most of them refer to attitude and motivation.  Because I was drawn to these texts, I think I'm telling myself something -- motivation motivation motivation is key.  I'm posting this in a prominent place so I can be MOTIVATED every day!  

Remember:  "Dig a Little Deeper"  "Without a Doubt".


Thursday, January 1, 2015

From the Back of Beyond...

Oh, it's been forever.  I had so intended to write a triumphant post after the big day on November 15th, when I completed the Color Run in Baltimore.  It was really difficult, but I did it.  I even ran a (very miniscule) portion of it.  Here's me, goofing off before and looking particularly rectangular:

Here's another, where I look like I'm about ready to collapse, accompanied by my beautiful cousin and goddaughter, L., who was the best personal trainer and one-woman cheering squad I could have asked for, not letting me stop for anything, even when I wanted to...

L.kept telling me how good I'd feel when I was finished and how proud I would be of myself when I went over the finish line.  And she was right.  I admit that, even though I didn't run the stinking thing, I was really proud of myself and I even teared up a little.  It was really very affirming.

Here's some of my Color Run swag:

I also got a few bags of the colored powder that they throw at various color stations for the chickadees to play with once it gets warm again (so I can hose them off outside - it is MESSY!)

The world's best personal trainer and one woman cheering squad is really someone that I admire.  She has the most incredible heart.  She's smart, loving, prayerful, an incredible career-woman, and the best goddaughter I could have.  She is also an incredible godmother to Chickadee #1.  I am so lucky to have her in my life.  Not least because THIS was my Christmas present from her:

I'm so excited!  And terrified.  And excited.  And terrified.  But it will be so good!  Thanks, Little Linky!