Man, it felt so good to drop off that bundle of clothes at Goodwill last spring. The trash bag was crammed with size 14’s and 16’s (!) because after six months of hard work, I had trimmed down to a model thin (for me) size 12. I’d been around this block before, but this time I was convinced the pounds would stay off. I was eating right and enjoying it, working out at the gym with a personal trainer (and enjoying it!) and I was full of energy and hope.
You know what’s coming next, right?
Yep. I’ve gained back every ounce of that hard-earned weight loss. And maybe a pound or two more.
Thank heavens I saved a couple pairs of my big girl pants. (They were in the laundry basket the day I made my prideful Goodwill deposit.) It’s discouraging. I feel ashamed. My constant dread is that tunic tops and oversized sweaters will go out of style, because they are seriously saving my life right now.
The Cycle That Gets You Nowhere
I’ve been on this yoyo weight gain and weight loss cycle my whole life. It’s so embarrassingly public and even more so because of the fact that I had the audacity to write some cheerleader-esque, “If I can do it, you can do it,” hype in my newsletter last spring. Ughh. Somehow, I knew that would come back to bite me in the butt—my size 16 butt.
I’m disappointed in myself. How did I slip into this cycle again?
And why did I think I was above ever slipping into this cycle again?
Can you relate? (Please say yes.) Maybe not with a weight issue; your cycle might be dating the same type of man over and over—the type that’s not ever going to marry you. Or it might be could be drug or alcohol dependence, shopping, anger, negativity, bingeing on everything from Netflix to Facebook clicks.
You know what I’m talking about… those things that make you want to pull on your comfy emotional tunic and hide the fact that you messed up—again. Because, who wants to admit that?
I know (of course, I know) that when I return to God and repent, He forgives me, aka Christianity 101. But I tend to read that story through my own lens, the one that includes the Father turning to Jesus and rolling His eyes as I walk away, because, you know, God is just like me.
I’m a chronic eye-roller. As a child, I rolled my eyes so much my Mom warned me that if I didn’t stop they would stay that way.
A memory rises. I was six years old and had done something naughty (I don’t remember what) and my Mom was mad. She marched me to the stairs and said, “Go to your room and don’t come out until you’re sorry.”
My little six-year-old brain scrambled to figure out what was the magic amount of time that had to pass before she’d think I was sorry enough. How long until I could be received into her good graces again? 15 minutes? An hour? All afternoon?
How much time fits the crime?
Sadly, we relate to God the same way. How long? How sorry do we have to be to be forgiven; maybe we should wait for a few days and give Him a little time to cool off. How dare we mess up like that (sin) and then turn right around and ask for forgiveness; won’t He think we’re insincere?
Again, we think He’s just like us, but He’s not. Then we relate to others out of that same mindset, responding to their apologies with verbal eye rolls:
- “Talk to me when you’re actually sorry.”
- “Could you at least act like you really mean it?”
- “Yeah, yeah; I’ve heard that before.”
- or this one: “I’m done.”
Know what He says when we come crawling back to Him?
After five years of studying and praying all the “re-words” in the Bible (return, restore, refresh, renew, repair, etc.) I no longer picture the Father rolling his eyes at me; now I see compassion in his eyes, even as I pull that big tunic over my head.
He understands my chronic cycle of rebellion and repentance. Never, for one second, does the Father turn away, give me the cold shoulder, or roll His eyes when I return to him. He is all about reconnection.
Here’s how Henry Blackaby describes the process:
“God places much of the burden of what we will become on our response to Him. If we have drifted from God, His call is to return to Him. God promises that if we will return, He will immediately renew His relationship with us.”
James 45:8 promises that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.
Matthew 7:7 guarantees that if we seek Christ, we will find Him.
“Much of the Christian life rests upon our response and our desire to experience God to the fullest,” says Blackaby. “He awaits your response.”
That’s my personal “re-word.”
Graham Cooke, one of my favorite Bible teachers, admonishes his readers to, “Get on the pathway where RESPONSE is the KEY WORD in your relationship with the Lord.” Interesting thing about that word, “respond.” In the Hebrew, it’s ‘anah and comes from a root word meaning, “to eye.”
He’s not waiting for us to get our act together before we approach Him. Cooke reminds us, “God’s not disillusioned with us, because He never had any illusions about us in the first place.”
No, friends, He doesn’t roll His eyes at us, not even when he catches us reaching one more time for that oversized, tunic cloak of shame, or for the cookies that prompted the larger size wardrobe. There’s absolutely no reason to hide or cover yourself up, you can come just as you are; He’s waiting and His arms are open wide.
See? There He is, holding out His robe of righteousness for you and it’s just the right size.