I felt the best I had felt - mentally and physically - in a really long time. But I recognized those great feelings were making me complacent. And, while I was feeling healthy, I was still overweight. For my overall health, I still needed to lose some more pounds and inches. For my mental health, I desperately wanted to see the scale go down - more so I could put the incident behind me. I was stuck at the weight I was when the incident began. So I did something drastic. I hired a personal trainer and from November 2011 to mid-January, I met with him twice a week. I used to watch the Biggest Loser and think, "My gosh, would you stop CRYING? Just do the exercise Bob wants you to do! Why do you have to cry? Stop being a weenie and JUST DO IT!" Now, I totally get it. After many of the sessions, I'd get in my car and cry. Working with the trainer made me see how weak I was, how ineffectively I had been using my body, and how much of this journey was about how I let my emotions, feelings, and fear control my response to everything. Personal training, although uncomfortable at times, was one of the best things I've done for myself. My trainer saw potential in me that I've never seen in myself, and he showed me how to do more than I ever thought I could do. He taught me how to say "I can" instead of "I can't."
Even though I was meeting with the trainer twice a week, the scale never budged. I did, however, lose inches and my clothes started fitting even better, but the scale never moved. Even with the success of losing inches, I just felt stuck. And then something started not feeling right. One night, I decided to proceed with my personal training appointment even though my body felt inflamed and I was feeling pain. I've given up so many times before at the slightest ache or pain, so I wanted to push through the pain. But as the session wore on, the pain increased to the point where I was literally doubled over, so my trainer wisely made the call to cut the session short. This pain was different, so I set up an appointment with my doctor right away. He confirmed that something was up, and sent me to get some tests. And then a few days before a test, my back went out. I was in so much pain. Long story short (and detailed here and here), I needed to have surgery.
From the end of January to the surgery in May, I was severely limited in my mobility due to the pain in my back. There were times when I was so frustrated with God. I was trying to change my life. I was trying to get myself back on track so that I could be a more effective person for Him and for others. I was trying to get rid of these things that were holding me back. He knew that I needed to get past this number on the scale. He KNEW it. And He let me become immobile and experience awful, physical pain. I just didn't get it. Not at all. Why do all this work if this is what I get? Why bother working harder? I had been down this road before, so many times before, and I was tired. I just wanted to catch a break. I just wanted to get away from that number on the scale, away from "him," away from those feelings. And God was withholding from me what I wanted!
But during this time, I kept seeing God around every corner. I didn't want to see Him because He wasn't answering me in the way that I wanted. But He was there and making sure I knew He was there. The big way He kept popping up was in the songs I play every day.
"You must think I'm strong to give me what I'm going through. Well, forgive me, forgive me if I'm wrong, but this looks like more than I can do on my own. I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be. I give up. I'm not stong enough. Hands of mercy won't you cover me? Lord right now I'm asking you to be strong enough for the both of us." - Matthew West, Strong Enough
"And you're asking why is it always raining on you, when all you want is just a little good news. God's right there, even if it's hard to see Him. I promise you that He still cares. 'Cause if He started this work in your life, He will be faithful to complete it. If only you believe it. He knows how much it hurts." - Mandisa, Stronger
"I’ve got to say this has taken me by surprise. But nothing surprises You. Before a heartache can ever touch my life it has to go through Your hands. And even though I, I keep asking why... No matter what, I’m gonna love You. No matter what, I’m gonna need You. I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain, but if not, I’ll trust You no matter what." - Kerrie Roberts, No Matter What
"We pray for healing, for prosperity. We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering. All the while, You hear each spoken need, yet love us way too much to give us lesser things. 'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?" - Laura Story, Blessings
The message I kept getting from Him was, "You need to trust Me on this. I'm going to make something beautiful from all of this. This is the uncomfortable stage, but you're going to be a better person - a better person than even you're imagining for yourself. But will you trust me with this?" BIG question. Did I trust God with my weight? Did I trust God to move the number on the scale? Did I trust God to redeem the touches that were stolen from me? Did I trust God to give me the desires of my heart? Did I trust God?
Once I finally got to the place where I completely surrendered this process to God instead of pushing against Him, I felt peace. And not only did I feel peace, I could start to see the bigger picture. The back pain wasn't without purpose - it was there to keep me from further injuring myself. If I had kept at the level of exercise I was doing, I would have caused serious harm to myself. My back pain disappeared immediately after the surgery. The weight that I gained during those few months and consequently the number that the scale showed told me that I hadn't forgiven "that man" as much as I thought I had. There can't be partial forgiveness. It has to be complete. God didn't partially forgive me of my sins. He forgave me from ALL of my sins. It was complete. Not only did He forgive me of all of them, He promised that they are gone from His memory and never to be brought up again. If I bring them up, it's my own issue, but He promises that they are erased from His memory (Psalm 103:12). Because He did this and can continue to do it, why shouldn't He require the same of me? Why can't I offer complete forgiveness to this man?
My pastor did a sermon on forgiveness in May. He said the way to truly know that you've forgiven an offender after saying that they are forgiven is to acknowledge that, "I won't ever bring it up again to the offender, anybody else, or to myself, and I won't rehearse the hurt in my mind." Those words were the key to unlocking the merry-go-round I was riding. I've been guilty of every item on that list, especially rehearsing the hurt in my mind. And it makes sense not to do that because I'm only hurting myself and putting myself back into the cycle of hurt. The only way to bust out and leave it behind is not to do it anymore so the hurt can be left behind. In order to have room for the good stuff on the computer of my mind, I have to drag those corrupt files to the recycle bin, right click on "permanently delete items in recycle bin," and then confirm that, yes, I want to permanently delete them.
It's amazing the freedom that comes from complete forgiveness - whether it's yourself or someone else. It opens up so many more opportunities to invest in others because the focus is no longer self directed. And so I challenge you... who do you need to forgive? You may feel they aren't deserving of forgiveness for what they did to you. I certainly felt that way. But I'd challenge you with this: why are YOU deserving of forgiveness? What makes what you've done any better or worse? You may not have done anything as "big" as someone else, but you've still done things that have caused harm to others. We don't have to do physical harm to someone - the words we speak can cause deep, deep wounds. How can what someone else did to you make them less deserving of forgiveness compared to what you did to someone else? That's the lesson God's been driving home to me. Yes, "that man" hurt me tremendously. But at the end of the day, I've said and done things that have hurt others, including myself. I can't expect forgiveness if I'm unwilling to forgive. And the feeling of freedom and peace that comes through forgiveness is worth the journey.
And so that's where I am. I'm leaving the hurt behind. I was hesitant to even share this part of my story with you because - in the true act of forgiveness - I didn't want to bring it up, but it's impossible to share the journey God's had me on without sharing that portion. It's is the largest reason for my change. I still struggle with not rehearsing the hurt in my mind. I openly admit that. But being aware of the harmful effect it has on me emotionally, spiritually, and physically has certainly helped to lessen the amount of times it happens. I want to live in freedom, complete freedom, because it feels amazing.