Getting the plank out.

What is the point of working out? For some people, to get in shape. To lose weight. To fit into that favorite pair of jeans from before the freshman 15. To get a date. To gain attention from the opposite sex. To improve health. Decrease blood pressure. Elongate life. Lots of reasons.

As a product of my society, I care so much, too much in fact, about the weight. About the number. IT'S JUST A NUMBER. But so is the size of my jeans. Weight loss and size drops are the only semi-immediate results from working out. Even they take some time.

I'm realizing how bound I am to instant gratification. If I can't see immediate results, I don't want to do it. If I ask God for something, and he tells me to wait, I want to do it myself.

Which boils down to control. I want to have control. I want to do things my way.

And that begs the question... do I really trust God?

These are some of the things I'm working through.

Also... Pride. Loneliness. Perfectionism (that's a big one). Self-criticism. Self-worth.

I've come to understand that these are the things behind my supposed lack of motivation for school. It's not that I'm lazy. It's not that I'm unmotivated. It's that I'm imprisoned, trapped, bogged down, overwhelmed, and taken hostage by other issues much greater than motivation. I've had the motivation all along. I've just been praying for the wrong thing.

I've asked God to give me motivation time and time again. Over and over and over and over - what is wrong with me? Why can't I just do well? Why can't I be motivated? Please take this from me.

There have been many moments where I succeeded and improved. I thought coming to North Park would be different. That I'd be a different, better student. I was essentially running from my problems, hoping I would leave them behind in Lincoln. I should have known better than to believe something so silly.

I don't remember where or when or who said this, but I remember hearing someone say that God is not going to remove an issue from your life if it is the one thing that will cause you to depend on him. Does that make sense? I mean, first of all, I don't believe God just takes away our problems. He is on our side and he is working for our good, but he does not do it for us. We have to do our part. We have to do everything we can do, and God will do the rest. We have to trust that he will, but we first have to put our own energy into it. But also, and this is the second of all, we have to depend fully on him. Sometimes we try to do things on our own, and we usually fail miserably. We usually create catastrophic messes of our lives and our relationships, with only ourselves to blame. But every once in a while, we're able to do something on our own terms and our own strength (or so we think) and we sort of survive. The outcome may not be as great as we had hoped, but we knew it couldn't amount to much because we're rejecting God's help.

But there are those issues, those sins in our lives that we simply cannot and will not overcome without Christ. Without FULL dependence on him to strengthen and redeem us. We know we should depend on God through all things, in all situations, good and bad. But do we do this? If we're honest, no. If we're honest, the times we depend most on God are when we're struggling, when we're in pain, when we don't know what else to do. For some reason, God is our last resort when we've failed to figure it out on our own. But he LONGS for us to come to him in the first place. Not only will he help us, but he'll strengthen us and even bless us.

I do not deserve such favor.

Regardless, Jesus does this for me everyday. Now I know I was praying for the wrong thing. What I needed was to understand the reasons behind my lack of motivation. I needed to depend fully on him to calm the storm in my mind and in my heart.

Remember the avalanche a few posts ago? Yesterday I was journaling and came to the realization that there will be no avalanche. I'm already on top of the mountain, metaphorically speaking. But in reality, there isn't enough crap to avalanche on me. I'm working through the pile, and there simply isn't enough there to overwhelm me at this point. And that is probably a miracle that I can say that... especially in the month of December.

But as I continued to think about this, I realized I had a mini-avalanche last week. Not in the sense that I knew it was coming and I was just preparing for the impact. This one I didn't know was coming. Surprise attack, I guess you could say. Oh but I was tested and challenged and pushed to my emotional and mental and spiritual limits.

And Jesus? He never let me go. I survived. Flourished, even.

We should be thankful for the hard moments. I've learned that even if I don't mean it, I'm going to thank God for them. Eventually my heart will follow my words. (It really is true. I think the moment my heart caught up is right now.)

I'm training for a marathon. It's in April in Champaign. I don't really like running. But I'm doing it anyway. I'm doing it because it's a challenge and I want to succeed. I'm doing it because it will get me in shape. (I'm in better shape now than I have been since I was like... 13.) I'm doing it because it's something my mom and I can do together, and I know that time we have together is important to both of us. And I'm doing it because I know if I don't, I'll regret it.

It's not easy by any means. We ran 6 miles last weekend. Right after hearing a sermon about accelerating through the finish line... a metaphor for pushing hard through the end times and pursuing Christ with fervor and determination and passion.

When I was at LCC, I took Christian Character and Leadership, a class that goes through 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. One of the assignments we had was to select a metaphor Paul uses in those letters to Timothy and Titus and write a paper about why it is a metaphor for each of our lives. I chose the metaphor of athleticism, specifically running and training. I don't know why I did that, because at the time, I wasn't working out or running or training for anything. Maybe it was wishful thinking, or perhaps divine intervention...

Anyway... that's what this blog is about. Running and training and disciplining myself physically and also spiritually. And even mentally and emotionally. I've learned to take time for myself and to make sure I'm spending time alone and alone with God. But I have never in my 22 years of life known what it is to focus on myself and work through my own stuff. I can't explain to you the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders - weight I didn't even realize I was carrying. If we don't deal with our own stuff, how can we possibly help others deal with their stuff?

I know I'm called to help people.

I'm getting the plank out of my eye so I can see clearly to get the speck out of yours.


  1. Last week was my breaking point too. I miss you and I am proud of all that you've accomplished this year! I love how God is always teaching us and helping us learn to trust him daily...even if it is in our own time. He waits for us. Its nice to know that he waits when I'm stubborn...oh the thoughts...LOL

    Love you Jess...I really miss you!

  2. Good luck on the marathon training ! I've done 4 now, and it wasn't easy, but it has been so worth it. This last time, I lost a ton more weight than usual and bested my prior time by 35 minutes. One major help was a "No More Excuses" bracelet that was given to me by a friend who lost 170 lbs to win TV's The Biggest Loser. It's a great philosophy to adopt and keep at the forefront of your mind. Click my name for my blog post on the race itself, and the huge spiritual uplift I received at a critical point in the race.

  3. beautifully written jess!!!