Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Giving My Resolutions to the Lord

My list of New Year’s resolutions that year wasn’t unique.

I imagine many other women make similar lists all the time:

  • Be more patient with my children.
  • Plan ahead for Family Home Evenings.
  • Read my scriptures every day.
  • Lose the final fifteen pounds from my last pregnancy.
  • and so on.
I don't recall anything unusual in that year's list.

January rolled around. Life—and my list—went on. I didn’t want to fail by tossing my list aside mid-February. I would succeed. For that to happen, I made my resolutions—most of them, anyway—a matter of sincere prayer.

I tried to keep the Spirit with me as I cared for my small children day in and day out so I would have more patience and be a better mother.

I prayed for those small reminder nudges to read my scriptures, because it was so easy to forget.

For that matter, I called on the Lord for help with every single resolution on that list of ten or so . . . except one.

I didn’t need help losing weight. I knew what needed to be done: eat right and make exercise a priority. That's what I'd done after my other pregnancies, and I managed all right.

And besides, I had another ten or so resolutions I’d be bugging the Lord with on a regular basis. I might as well leave Him alone on the one I could handle myself, right?

Turns out that year became one of the most stressful up to that point in my life, and no matter what I did, that single resolution remained a steadfast failure. I watched my diet carefully (while I didn’t eat like a bird, I did watch what I ate). I exercised faithfully six days a week, both on the treadmill and with weights.

When I didn’t drop an ounce, I gradually increased the intensity. Then speed. Then length of my workouts. At one point, I exercised intensely 90 minutes a day Monday through Saturday.

In a cruel twist of fate, the following New Year’s Eve rang out with me weighing more that I had on January first. I weighed as much as I had full-term with my first pregnancy. I was horrified, shocked, confused . . . depressed.

I thought back on all my other resolutions. Sure, I’d had my moments of dropping the ball occasionally, but for the most part, I felt pretty good about those resolutions. I’d improved in each area.

So why had I failed so spectacularly with this one? I’d tried harder with it than all the others combined. It made no sense.

The obvious reason finally dawned on me: this was the only resolution I’d kept the Lord out of. I’d been so proud of myself that I could handle it on my own. So not once had I turned to Him in humility and asked what I was doing wrong or how He could help me reach my goal of better health.

January rolled around again. This time, I didn’t make a lengthy list of resolutions. Instead, I took a long, hard look at my pride and decided it was time to humble myself. It took a week’s bout of the flu to break me of my compulsion for heavy daily exercise, but when I did, I was able to turn to the place I should have all along and plead, Lord, help me. I don’t know what to do.

The following weeks became some of the most spiritual of my life.

I didn’t give up exercise, but I learned to listen to the Spirit as to how long and how much to push myself—and I learned that I didn’t need to exercise so hard or so intensely.

While grocery shopping, I heard small, quiet thoughts enter my mind.

Pineapple is on sale. Buy one.

See those grape tomatoes? If you buy some, you’ll be more likely to eat a salad for dinner.

I got distinct impressions regularly, and as I followed them, the pounds slowly and gradually fell off. As I obeyed, more impressions came.

Many times I’d hear other thoughts that spoke to the negative views I’d been holding of myself that had led to keeping weight on in subtle but powerful ways I hadn’t realized.

Don’t eat that brownie was followed by, You’re worth more than that.

I heard a voice advise me to Cut that treat in half, and then, Have the courage to be thin.

Take a smaller portion for dinner. You don’t need that much to be satisfied.

I had to change the way I thought about myself and food. I learned that it as contrary to logic as it seemed, the journey to wellness did take courage and an increase in self-worth.

Again, the more I followed the impressions, the more impressions came. Within four months, I had dropped nearly twenty-five pounds and was within five pounds of my marriage weight.

That never would have happened if I hadn’t realized that we are to pray about all things in our lives, to never shut the Lord out of anything. We need Him and His Spirit with us—always.

That means praying to the Lord for everything. He’ll give us answers, even if it’s to tell us we’re worth more than a brownie. I needed to hear that.

Such simple answers to prayers have the power to change lives—but only if the prayer is offered in the first place.