Doing Something About It

Today’s song (click here if you can’t see the player) is ‘Bad Body Double’ by Imogen Heap, off the album Ellipse. It’s a strange little song, because the speaker is essentially talking to herself as if she had a split personality, thinking about the things she doesn’t like about herself (‘a little extra weight on the side’, for example) as if those things were attributes of someone else.

For the longest time, I’ve been packing on the pounds as if I was deliberately trying to fatten myself up for the slaughter. My desk job is literally killing me, but so is the habit of eating bad-for-me things all the time and not getting enough exercise.

Last week I came to a sudden realization that what I am doing is committing slow suicide–I know that I’m killing myself and doing it deliberately. At that point, I had to decide: do I want to live, or do I want to die?

The answer before was obvious: I was depressed. I didn’t value my life because I didn’t enjoy it. I was worried about my wife and kids, sure, but I was also miserable, and while I would never have done anything to deliberately sever the silver cord, I was essentially doing that anyway in a slow manner.

So I’ve made a few changes. But I’m doing it my way, and that way means the fun way. My brain is wired in what I think might be a slightly hedonistic way: if it’s not fun, I generally won’t do it. So I’m making it a sort of game, ‘gamifing’ it, if you will. Do I need to eat those M&Ms? Can I shave a few calories off by not eating the fries? Can I fit in some more exercise somehow? And when I successfully resist the temptation to eat more, rather than rewarding myself with food, I’m rewarding myself with the understanding that every little bit I do now is an investment in my future: a thigh gap, the ability to wear XL or 2XL shirts again, not feeling exhausted all the time, et cetera.

But this didn’t happen because of any effort on my part. Jesus said that ‘in myself, I can do nothing.’ And he only uses the ‘weak and foolish things’. Being weak and foolish and recognizing that is essentially what qualifies me for miracles. And a ‘miracle’, in this instance, is a change of thinking.

In order to change our thinking (metanoia), we have to rely on the Spirit to work within us. Often God’s voice sounds like our voice, a clever, new idea in our head that is the answer to a problem. Those sudden ideas, or sudden surprising questions that pop into my head, are things that I value, and something any believer should value.

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