Learning, Changing, Becoming More Like Exercise Barbie….. I Mean God!!

The fateful day Eve handed the fruit to Adam, setting into motion curses for all mankind, one curse was omitted; looking at forbidden carbs would cause a pound of fat to be added to each thigh, and it would take a month of exercise to remove said pounds. I’m fairly certain when naked Eve roamed the Garden, perfect body, sans stretch marks and cellulite, she never gave thought one to the struggles she bequeathed the sisterhood.

Since I met and married my hubby a few years back, I have not exercised like I had prior. He is the most wonderful cook, creating luscious meals, beautifully presented every evening which has added to my overall condition today. Menopause kicked my butt, too; another gift I will leave at the feet of Mother Eve. Notice I have not taken responsibility; I was fine until hubby and menopause came along!

My kids have said they want me to live til I’m 125 years old; not going to guarantee that, but I do come from a line of long-livers, so getting back into shape and watching my diet may just get me close! Time to get busy, even though I assume NO fault! What exercise program to choose? I want what every woman willing to admit she hates exercise and would prefer to sip wine and eat succulent hors devors poolside in a bikini wants; easy, sweatless, and guaranteed results within the week.

One evening while sitting on the couch, I watched an infomercial for a reportedly fun and effective, exercise system. Ever notice everything now is a “system”? Three DVD’s to sculpt and shape my body back to bikini-ready. Well, I’ve never been bikini-ready, so maybe I could shoot for yoga pant-ready. Three Exercise Barbies, not a visible drop of sweat on their toned, graceful bodies, smiled their way through demonstrations of the easy, yoga-inspired movements.  Mesmerized, I watched while sipping my wine and enjoying a bowl of Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch ice cream, a warm puppy in my lap……oh wait, that warm puppy is just my tummy resting comfortably on my upper thighs. Is any more motivation needed? Anyway, the “system”, challenging, but doable, included a gal who performed the “modified” versions of the exercises for those of us who are not as fit as front-and-center Exercise Barbie. I had committed, I was getting back into shape. Round is a shape, right? I used to have a thigh-gap, what the heck? I patiently awaited the exercise system’s arrival.

First night; survival was my goal, and I survived. When I finished I was still breathing, which actually was my primary goal, but still had to get up the stairs from the family room, inconveniently located in the basement. Twelve steps separated me from the top. Our three puppies sat at the top looking down at me with pity in their eyes; at least that is what I saw. If I tossed them a rope, maybe a team effort on their part would pull me to the main level? No, stupid idea; that would require me to search the basement for a rope and I didn’t have that much energy left. I considered calling for my husband, but “I am woman”, dependent on no man, or woman, for that matter, and decided to drag myself up the stairs to the main level. Only 12 steps, but when my foot landed on the main floor it felt like I had conquered Mount Everest. After a week, I was able to walk up the stairs on 2, albeit wobbly, legs. Mind you, the climb did deplete the miniscule reserve of energy left in my body, but I made it all the way to the shower.

Trust me, perfection is nowhere in my personality profile. I have been known to let profanities escape my lips when pushed, and insane remarks from perky Exercise Barbie pushed some major buttons. Most evenings I can be heard adding colorful commentary to her cheerleading encouragement to challenge ourselves. I say “ourselves” as I imagine a sisterhood out there with the same goal – to survive, I mean to get fit. At the end of one video with a particularly grueling set of exercises designed to sculpt and shape my body using my own bodyweight instead of free weights – see I listen to Exercise Barbie – she says something like, “Don’t you love the high you feel after you finish?!” flashing pearly white teeth, no sweat visible anywhere. Expletives flew out of my mouth like machine gun fire. High? What was she talking about? If I felt high it was only because my brain was lacking oxygen!

So what does any of this have to do with our relationship with God? Fortunately, our journey with God needn’t be so grueling! His mercies are renewed every day, giving us another opportunity to get it right, to bless more people than we curse, to praise more than we complain, to see and acknowledge the beauty He brings from the ashes of our lives.

Sometimes our relationship with God gets derailed, some of us experience the ebbs and flows of relationship, and still others have little to no relationship with God, and don’t know how to go about starting one. There is no magic in getting started on a journey with God. No recited prayers, no secret handshakes, no special meeting place, no equipment needed; just start talking to Him. When we have been derailed by a series of events that leave us confused, or an unexpected loss blindsides us, sometimes we think God has left our side, or no longer cares about us. Maybe our church experience left us disillusioned and we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

In any case, a journey with God isn’t like staying fit. When we stop paying attention to a healthy diet and exercising, we lose muscle tone, gain fat, our energy is depleted; we start back at ground zero, or close to it. Relationship with God is always within our grasp despite any circumstances that have kept, or taken us away from Him. He never moves from our side; we move away from His, so God is ever ready to start a journey with us, or pick up where we left off and start anew.

We don’t need to be perfect, or even close to perfect to be acceptable to God. He loves each of us the way we are right at this moment. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows we are going to mess up more times than we think we will mess up. God’s love remains steady, unwavering, and He won’t require us to do this or that before we start the journey because that is what the journey is about; learning, changing, becoming…..

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