An Exercise in Humility

I had my very first free personal training session a couple mornings ago. I thought it would be a brief tour of the facility, introducing me to the pieces of equipment that would blast away my fatty problem areas and perhaps a little product plug for the latest protein powder and how delicious and not-chalky it tastes.

Not so. The trainer, surprisingly, put me to work right away. He had me lifting weights and doing these horrible things called, “burpees”. I had heard of them and how they worked miracles in their grueling and terrible fashion and now I was going to do them.

I did just fine for the first few minutes, but as he had me alternating between weights and burpees, things went downhill very quickly. My awkward flopping to the floor and scrambling to hurl my body back upwards was quite a sight. I evoked all the grace and majesty of a walrus hefting itself onto an ice floe.

The rest of my training session was a hearty cocktail of physical contortion, pain and just a skosh of humiliation sprinkled on top. To make matters worse, my nose was runny from allergies so even before I was red-faced and gasping for air, I was crusty and probably blowing snot-bubbles every time I exerted myself.

An inspiring Rocky training montage it was not – “Gonna Fly Now” would not be the soundtrack of my performance. All my lurching and heaving was more suited to the sputtering of a Whoopee Cushion.

But whatever, that’s ok.

I care enough about losing weight right now that it really doesn’t matter to me that when I run on the treadmill, I look like I’m running under water. I don’t focus on the fact that when I jog, small vermin could surf on the rocking and rolling waves of my tummy fat. I really, truly do not worry about how awful I look and smell when I’m working out because I have a goal I’m trying to reach.

I’m sure my trainer had a good laugh after our session. There are probably some great jokes they’re cracking around the water cooler about my stunning failure.

When you care enough about change, you don’t worry about how weird it looks and sounds, who’s watching and what they’re saying. When becoming a different person matters enough, you throw pride to the wayside.

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve looked like a weirdo in public. I’ve had plenty of people poke fun at my Christian beliefs and ridicule the way I live. But a few tasteless jokes and ignorant words are nothing compared to what some people suffer.

The world is never going to run out of hecklers and haters. There will always be someone eager to snuff out good and bring others down, but don’t let them steal your joy or your resolve. Good is worth fighting for, even suffering for. Never concern yourself with what people think when you’re on the right track.

Who Can Stop a Trainwreck?

Have you ever wished that someone would stop you from doing something really stupid? I think that every time I look at any pictures of me from age two to twenty two.  

When I was a little kid, my mother let me dress myself and do my own hair. But instead of taking my fashion cues from Punky Brewster, I looked like I was hanging out with the Golden Girls. Apparently, my mother let me do my shopping at the lost and found of our local retirement center. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I was a hefty girl with a unibrow and big pink glasses that would make Sally Jesse Raphael jealous.

Being a portly child, my wardrobe included a lot of knit pants and t-shirts. But these soon became too bland for my artistic sensibilities, so in fourth grade I started to add some flair to them with my own hand-drawn puffy paint designs.

The pièce de résistance of my stretchy attire was from a collection I like to call my “Antarctic Period” featuring lumpy penguins with birthday hats and squiggles that were supposed to be confetti but looked more like Cheetos. I’m not sure what possessed me to fixate on penguins, but their melted smiles and lazy eyes seemed good to me so I wore my designs like I was working the catwalk.

As I got older my fashion sense didn’t improve much and neither did common sense. I got pregnant with my daughter when I was nineteen and spurred on by friends, relatives and my grandfatherly doctor, I was encouraged to eat whatever and whenever I pleased because I was “eating for two”. They insisted that whatever calories my youth couldn’t handle, nursing would fix, so I ate like there was no tomorrow. I ate California chicken burgers like they were the building blocks of my fetus’ nervous system and with every pound of nachos I stuffed into my face, I toasted her health.

Consequently, I was the size of a planet by the time I was nine months pregnant. And when it came to losing the “baby weight” (like any of it was the baby’s fault), youth was definitely not on my side and nursing did nothing but make me feel even more like a big cow.

There have been so many times in my life that I wished that someone would have knocked some sense into me; that they would have stopped me from humiliating myself and acting like a moron. But I don’t know for sure that my mom could have convinced me that penguins weren’t “in” or that anyone could have stopped me from eating like a lumberjack when I was pregnant. I don’t know if anyone could have talked me out of many stupid things I’ve done, even the things I knew violated my faith.

I think sometimes God lets us continue on our path of idiotic behavior so that when we finally hit bottom, the stark contrast between our stupidity and his wisdom and love is undeniable. The difference is so palpable that we appreciate God’s goodness in a deeper way. I also think he allows us to learn the hard way sometimes so that we have more compassion towards the lost and those that have turned away from God. When we are faced with our own wretchedness and have experienced God’s redeeming love, no one seems like a lost cause and you are compelled to share that hope.

Every time I write, I can’t help sharing how God has changed my life and blessed me even if it means exploiting my less brilliant moments. While I definitely don’t celebrate my bad decisions, and many still make me cringe, I share them anyway because I want others to know how good God is. No matter how shameful your background or how many stupid things you have done, there is nothing so terrible that God’s love can’t cover it or would make him embarrassed to call you his child.

My Baby is Growing Up

My ten year old daughter and I had a good long talk a few nights ago about what she should expect over the next few years. Her school was going to give a presentation the next day on puberty and she wanted to feel like she had the basics covered. She was very curious and asked some really good questions.

After a solid hour of Q & A, she was still a little nervous. I reassured her many times that she knew everything she needed to know, there wouldn’t be any unpleasant surprises and it’s all normal, new and exciting. That seemed to help her a little.

She left my room and I felt confused. Why did I suddenly feel so sad? Why did all those tender memories of her babyhood immediately flood my mind? I thought: my beautiful baby girl, my heart aches to hold you again! To sway with your little bundled body in my arms as you sleep. To breathe in the fragrance of your soft brown hair enveloping you like a gauzy pink blanket……..

When she was a baby, I felt I could carry her whole world and shield her from anything that would dare to shake it loose from my grip. Life was simple. There was so much work feeding, changing, bathing and soothing her that the world seemed a much smaller and uncomplicated place where my greatest worry was choosing the right pediatrician.

After a bit of mulling over these thoughts and turning them over every which way to uncover their meaning, what I was truly feeling hit me: It wasn’t that I wished that she was a baby again. I felt fear. Am I a good enough mom to see my daughter through arguably the most awkward, difficult and confusing time in a kid’s life?

Then there were other more irrational fears. Fear that I won’t like my teenage daughter as much as when she was my preschool daughter. Will I want to hug and cuddle her when she acquires weird fashion obsessions, acne and a young woman’s body? Then scariest of all: will she ever be as precious to me again as on those dark early mornings when I would wake up to my messy-haired little girl standing by my bed looking lost? With her tired stare, stuffed animals and scruffy blanket in tow, she would silently climb into bed with me, her warm little body melting my heart.

It seems like the older she gets, the smaller I feel and the more precarious life seems. The “world” I once confidently managed is getting big and heavy. But I know that I can’t control what life deals us and I refuse to be a paranoid mom that obsessively controls my daughter in the name of “protection”.

More than anything, I want my little girl to know that I’m crazy about her and her biggest fan no matter how weird and ornery she gets through the different stages of her life. The bible says that “love covers a multitude of sins” and as a parent, whether I’m committing sins or ignorant mistakes, the only thing I can be certain of is love. Love is the only thing that can overwhelm my failures and drown out fear and the only thing that really counts.

Angie 5/24/10 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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