Several weeks ago, I took a risk by telling the blogosphere the exact
number on the scale under my feet. One hundred and sixty. I
challenged readers to join me in a win-win plan—for every
unauthorized extra pound on our bodies, we'd donate one pound of food
to a food pantry when we lost it. You can read the whole scary story here. Plus, you can read the stories of other risk-taking women here to see the fantastic people urging me on.
I'm reporting that I'm down six pounds. Great, right? Well, sort of.
If I could tell you I had done this as a result of creating a healthy
diet and exercise program and mustering my amazing stores of
willpower, then it would be great.
I have the willpower of a mosquito in a blood bank. I have never met
a piece of chocolate I didn't like. (Except white chocolate. That is
not chocolate. It is an impudent imposter that tastes like nothing
humans should naturally consume.)
it's a result of being sick for an entire month. Haven't been able to
eat. Haven't wanted to eat. Have eaten about a third of what I
usually eat and that only by sheer force because I know from freshman
biology class that a body has to have some kind of fuel to ensure
continued existence. Plus to ensure the house will not be overrun
with dirty clothes and dishes.
is not a diet plan I would recommend.
been thinking of the term Sheldon Vanaucken used in his book--”A
severe mercy.” Something God uses when we cannot, or will not, help
ourselves to be our better selves.
am not saying God brings about illness to teach me a lesson. I am not
the kind of theologian who tweets about deadly earthquakes helping us
to be more like Job. But I am thinking, through this month, about how God
will take a situation and use it to do for us what we are unable to
do. Out of severe (defined as very great, intense) love.
have zero willpower. No matter how many good intentions I have, I
could not (read that would not, because truth--no one force fed me
chocolate chip cookies at gunpoint) stop eating junk. I prayed for
help. But I would not help myself.
can sometimes love us so severely that he will answer our prayers. [tweet this]
I've had other prayers with similar outcomes.
prayed for success and railed at the fates of the world when it
didn't come. Why, God? If everyone says I'm so good at what I do, why
hasn't that brought me where I'd like to be by this time?
God answered recently, pretty clearly. Because you couldn't have
handled it. Your life would have spun out of control with too much
packed into it, and plus, you may have had a teeeeeny bit too much
pride to make that a healthy thing.
Does he always have to be so darn right? When I think about what
might have happened, it makes me so grateful for the severe mercy
that denied me dreams that would have been disastrous.
used a drug addicted child to answer my prayers that he would heal me
of being so judgmental. Through those most severe years of my life,
he showed me an intense depth of mercy and his heart of compassion
for lives whose complications and struggles I had never understood. I
learned how to love—deeper, richer, truer than I knew I could. A
severe mercy indeed.
the risk is working—just not the way I thought. It's hard to be
grateful that I haven't been able to do all the things I wanted to do
in my daughter's last summer before college. It's hard when I look
out at my garden and all the things I'd like to be getting into out
it's easy when I think about being still and listening. Learning.
Waiting for the good that pours out of severe love.
is, I think, that we are all so alone in what lies deepest in our
souls, so unable to find the words, and perhaps the courage to speak
with unlocked hearts, that we don't know at all that it is the same
with others.” – Sheldon Vanaucken, A Severe Mercy