I step onto the scale in the dim light of my bathroom, using the flashlight on my phone to check the numbers since my wife and infant are sleeping in the next room after another fitful night of rest. 253 again.
I stare in disbelief. Frustration. Anger. Resentment. Depression.
For the first week and a half of my diet I saw awesome drops in weight. Much more activity, calorie-controlled and limited meals, and strategic planning had led to my losing 18 pounds in 9 days. I feel better, I’m starting to look different, my pants fit better, and I’m just all around pleased. Then over the course of the next 5 days my weight fluctuates within a half-pound to pound at 253.1 to 253.9 pounds. I am not cheating (other than that one southwestern eggroll from Chili’s that I instantly regretted). What is going on? I am doing all the same things that worked at the beginning; why is it suddenly giving no results?
I sit at my desk in the dim light of my lamp staring at my devotional and the worn Bible that I have taught from for many years. It is filled with highlights, notes, underlined verses, and more. The ways and things that I used to do for my daily time with God don’t seem to connect anymore. I do not feel like I am growing in the Lord like I usually do. My times of prayer seem more like me talking to the ceiling and less like me talking to my Heavenly Father.
I stare at my desk in disbelief. Frustration. Anger. Resentment. Depression.
For so many years I felt so connected to the Lord. I felt like my steps were preordained and that I was daily walking in His ways. I saw growth in myself, and I saw growth provided by the Lord in those I taught and discipled. I was active in my church and was looked at as a spiritual leader; someone who was close to the Lord and could be trusted for wise council. Now I feel like I am dead to the world. I don’t feel as if I can trust anyone, and I find myself and my wife becoming more and more isolated. We have been hurt badly in ministry before, and now we have such a hard time trusting anyone that we choose to isolate our family altogether rather than open up and risk being hurt again. Why on earth is it that I do all the same things I have always done to grow my relationship with God and yet now it is suddenly giving no results?
Plateaus in our life can take on all sorts of looks: Physical, spiritual, mental, and all sorts of other areas in our lives. So how do we deal with them? What does how we deal with them really say about us? The thing is, as I am working on my physical health more and more, I am becoming acutely aware that in recent months my spiritual life has taken a hit as well. As I made the long drive in to work this morning, I started to notice (or perhaps God revealed to me) the correlations that exist between the two struggles I have.
Physically, my body was quickly changing because of this new lifestyle that hit it out of the blue. It had developed routines on how much food to process for energy and how much to store in fat. It had become accustomed to a certain amount of input that it knew how to handle. Basically, my body had developed these routines that had become… routine. When I introduced this new system and completely shocked it, it didn’t know what to do with it, so quick change occurred because my body was unsure of what to do with all that was coming at it.
Then my body adapted and figured out a way to try and return to the norm. It wanted 270 pounds back. That weight is where my body knew what to do with itself. It wasn’t healthy, but at least it had routine. Everything came easy and required little effort. The losses started to taper off and eventually cease as my body found this way to be comfortable again in the midst of the onslaught. That is how I found myself standing on a scale in the dark in my bathroom looking at the LCD readout that said 253 for the 5th straight day.
Likewise, in my spiritual growth, my spirit had almost become stagnant. We struggled to fit in at church so we took to doing home church. What began as a way to keep the kids learning and engaged in bible study after my baby daughter was born and we were not going out to crowded places yet became an outlet. My wife, kids, and myself would sit in the living room and watch a video lesson or sermon and then discuss. Don’t get me wrong, my kids enjoyed it (church in their PJ’s isn’t all bad right?), and they were learning, but my wife and I were not being challenged; we were not growing, and we certainly lacked relationships with other believers. We were comfortable with the routine again.
We are challenged however in the scriptures not to abandon the gatherings of believers.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
So in an attempt to resuscitate our spiritual growth and abandon the complacency we have fallen into, we will be returning to a gathering of believers regularly. Now we can try and jumpstart ourselves back into a season of growth and discovery in Christ. We will also be attending a different church than the one we were in so that we do not fall back into old routines of where we were.
In an attempt to also jumpstart my weight loss on my journey back to 200 by January, I will be switching it up today; changing the diet up a little and redoubling my efforts on the exercise front to once again shock my complacent system back into a season of change.
Sometimes the path to growth requires us to refocus and be willing to change course if God calls us to it.