In may of 2011, my husband and I completed our first sprint triathlon. We joined a group through our gym and we trained intensely for 4 months to prepare for the race. I remember thinking at the beginning of training that it would be impossible for me to complete the whole race, especially the bike portion of the race. (I never did well with bikes as a child – I could never stay on them) But I did finish the race and the bike portion ended up being my favorite part. Once I crossed the finish line, I was filled with so much joy that I wanted to do another one.
After years of struggling with infertility, I had felt like my body was broken because it couldn’t fulfill one of the key tasks that women were created to do: conceive and give birth. So after completing this race, I was elated and felt empowered because my body didn’t feel broken anymore – I could not only finish the race, but I finished it under my goal time. The race gave me confidence in my physical body again.
Fast forward three years. Since I have had shingles, exercising has been my biggest struggle even when I feel my best. For reasons I don’t understand, my nerves seem to get irritated when I activate my muscles along my trunk. It’s something I continue to try to do but I’m a far cry from the days of training for my triathlon. I have realized that I often use exercise as a way to define my identity and as a way to feel good about myself. Subconsciously I think I am exercising to help redeem the suffering of my physical body. So now that I cannot exercise regularly, I have caught myself describing my body as “damaged goods.” I guess Jesus was right when He said:
“out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matt 12:34
Lately I have been studying one passage of Scripture for several days or weeks at a time during my daily quiet times. For the past month or so, I have felt drawn to Psalm 139. As I read this passage, I find myself meditating on the following verses:
13 “For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”
The first time I read this, I literally stopped after I read verse 14. It was as if I couldn’t utter those words from my mouth because my heart did not believe them. I was not feeling wonderfully made; I was feeling like my physical body was in fact damaged goods – not the wonderful creation that God says that I am. But the Psalmist doesn’t say I praise you because I feel fearfully and wonderfully made; he says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s a fact that we are created by God and made in His image. (Gen 1:27).
2 Sam 22:31 states :“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless;…”
So in this case, I have realized that I have a choice:
to focus on what I feel or focus on the TRUTH of God’s word
If I choose to focus on God’s word, the lie that I was believing is replaced with the truth that God has laid out for me. I think it’s as simple as turning my gaze upward or as we say in Gracestoration, going vertical. As I gaze on my Savior and His word, the Lord can then reveal his truth to my heart and in turn highlight the lies that I am believing.
“But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.”
I am learning that it is not only good for me to be near God, it is essential. As I lean into him minute to minute, it is there that I receive refuge and comfort from the circumstances of this world. It is in his embrace that I receive my identity – not in what my physical body can and cannot do.
You are likely not experiencing the exact same things as me, but I pray that if you are feeling less than wonderfully made, that the Lord can come alongside you and breath His life into you. I pray that as you draw near to Him, He will reveal his truth to you:
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.