In the first two parts of this series on wellness, I’ve discussed a topic most of us don’t like to talk about. I shared about my lifelong battle with wellness and how it’s my thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12). In Part 2 I addressed three ways to battle your thorn in the flesh. Today I pick up where I left off in part 2 and will add four more ways to battle your thorn in the flesh.
While I could generalize the ways to battle, I decided to focus specifically on ways to battle the thorn of wellness with respect to eating and exercise. If this is not a specific battle for you, I know you have your own thorn. Most of the principles I share will apply to you regardless of your specific thorn.
Four More Ways to Battle Your Thorn in the Flesh
4) Blame it all on your excuses.
Last year when I worked out with a group of 30 other men and women, I usually “came in last” in most workouts. Many of my times and scores were the slowest and I often completest the lowest number of reps.
Instead of trying to improve my time or admit that I was out of shape, I blamed it all on my excuses. I was among the oldest and had the most number of kids so clearly I had to finish towards the bottom in every workout. Or if God had only given me a more ideal body type, then I wouldn’t come in last every workout.
I blamed God for my poor physical health. Rather than take responsibility for my shortcomings and poor decisions in the past, I blamed everyone and everything else.
Question: Are you blaming God or others for your issues instead of taking responsibility?
Pray: God, I ask you to help me own my part and accept responsibility instead of blaming my problems on others. Help me to not blame but accept and take responsibility for my contribution to my thorn.
5) Don’t Acknowledge Your Excuses
This one goes hand in hand with #4. While we can’t excuse or blame our problems on everything, there probably are some reasons outside of your control that have led to your challenges.
For example, as mentioned above, I was among the oldest in our group and I did have the most kids. This meant I was busier than most of the others in the class. While they could do long runs or bike rides on the weekend, I was running around to watch my kids play soccer all day. I needed to account for the fact that my age and stage of life brought some unique challenges.
While you don’t want to hide behind your excuses, you do need to acknowledge them and admit they might cause some challenges that are outside your control.
Question: Do you understand or acknowledge some of the challenges you face that are outside of your control?
Pray: God, I pray that I will admit and acknowledge some areas that are especially challenging to me and my battle against my thorn. While I don’t want to blame my problems on my excuses, I do want to give myself some grace in areas that are out of my control. Help me to discern the difference.
6) Focus on results and not faithfulness
For far too long I’ve put all my eggs in one basket. I measured success in wellness by a three digit number on the scale. If the number was low(er), then I was excited and would keep going. If the number stayed the same or was high(er), then I’d get frustrated and quit.
Even worse, my value was tied to that number on the scale. I hated myself on days when the number was high. I questioned God’s love for me and cussed myself for not having self-control or discipline.
The number on the scale didn’t just tell me how much I weighed. Instead it told me my value (or lack thereof).
I knew I needed to change the measurement of success.
Instead, in moments of victory, I chose to measure success by faithfulness. I looked for faithfulness in what I ate and in how consistent I was in my workouts. I chose to do my part and then trust God with the result on the scale.
In 2018, I did something to my back and couldn’t walk very well for a few weeks. It took so much effort to put on my shoes and to get in and out of bed. A few weeks into a new exercise routine, however, and I saw the back pain go away. I was able to run, do burpees, and functionally my movement was so much better. The number on the scale didn’t change much, but my quality of life was so much greater.
Right now, I’m noticing clothes fitting better than they have in a while and my belt loop is now one loop tighter. The number on the scale hasn’t changed much, but I feel better and my clothes are starting to fit.
Question: How do you measure success when it comes to wellness? Is success based on the number on the scale or on faithfulness?
Pray: God, I pray you’d help me to be faithful. Help all the readers of this post to be faithful in the decisions they make and in their wellness. Help them to not base success on a number on the scale but rather by faithfulness in honoring You with their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
7) Don’t have a long term plan.
Part of the problem I’ve had over the years is not having a good long term plan. I had a great system in place for 30 days or even 3 months, but then had nothing in place for when the diet/exercise class/workout videos ended.
Following a plan is easy. Anyone can success at something for 30 days or 3 months. The problem is not having a plan for day 31 when the 30 days are over. Part of the reason why I’ve continued to struggle over the years is because even though I had a great initial program, I had nothing in place for when the plan ended.
As Eugene Peterson famously said (quoting Friedrich Nietzsche), we need a long obedience in the same direction. No short term plan will work in the long run. Rather, I need to be obedient for a long time.
Question: What’s your plan to stay well? Who will help you in the long run?
Pray: God, I pray you’d help us to endure for the long run. Help us to not settle for a short term fix, but rather choose a long term plan that will honor you and help persevere.
Out of the 7 ways to battle the thorn in the flesh (as shared in Part 2 and in this post), which one provides the greatest challenge for you?
How else do you battle your thorn in the flesh? Please comment below so we can learn from each other.