There’s something to pain, isn’t there? We avoid it. We relish it. We languish in it. We complain about it. We try to fix it.
Pain is very often an indication that something is wrong. We’ve made this association time and time again. At first we found out because we were spanked as kids for something we did. We associated pain, even though we didn’t understand the connection between what we had just done and our behinds. We’ve grown since then. We’ve been taught to accentuate our positives and diminish our negatives. We’ve gone through the school of hard knocks and realized that some things aren’t good or acceptable or tolerated. And sometimes we haven’t quite learned quickly enough, or we discover blind spots.
Sometimes the pain just feels too good to stop. We might have pain and then numb over it with a medication – pills, alcohol, work, babies, martyrdom, isolation, pornography. It can be anything. The pain can start to feel good but we die further down and deeper.
The way out is to admit we need help. It’s to say that we can’t do it on our own. It means that we have to say that we’re in too deep for ourselves and it’s not just going to get better on its own. We slid into this mess and those very choices make it practically impossible to slide out on our own. We’d like to think we could come out transformed, but we don’t know how. It takes a discipline we don’t have. It takes a mindset we haven’t acquired.
It’s in these places of life that we have to embrace the suck and join up with others. There is something powerful to sharing your poverty enough that you agree to let someone see you in your pain or weakness. Obesity in whatever form is just a very obvious tangible manifestation of that thing we all have in our lives and hearts. It doesn’t have to be obesity. It can be alcoholism or anger management or life skills or debt. It can be just being out of shape. It can be singleness or an unhappy marriage or not knowing what to do with your kids. It can be sticking with jobs or always being late.
What needs to happen is you have to say, “I need help.”
That’s a powerful, difficult thing to say. It cuts against all we’ve been taught about self-sufficiency and pride. It’s a blow to the ego to need help. We’re failing at the meritocracy thing. We’re dependent.
We are weaker than we want to admit or want anyone to know.
I think you’ll find that if you truly earnestly authentically ask for help, you’ll get it. If you start showing up over and over, you’ll see change. You’ll make friends. You’ll get more than help. People who don’t need to help you will do just that and you’ll find grace too. You’ll be tempted to quit because it’s too difficult. You’ll have doubt and fear (which you already had) come out in the open and you’ll face those. You’ll struggle and want to give up. But you won’t be doing any of those things alone any more. You’ll find a community of people with the same fears and struggles, but they’ll be at different places than you are. You can realize that pain might sometimes mean you need to keep doing that very thing to get healthier and stronger and even needier with others.
The easiest thing to do is to stop showing up. To try to make it on your own. To go further into yourself out of that fear or embarrassment or pride to look weak or foolish.
The thing I try to do is just show up the next time. I may not have to achieve what I wanted, but I can drive to the gym. I can get out of the car, even if I’m not going to work out that day. I can go in and say hi. I can change into my clothes. I can do the warm up. I can always stop if I don’t feel like it. I can do the first few movements. I can always quit, but maybe I’ll go a little further than I thought. And then somehow I have completed the whole time. It really started by driving to the right place instead of driving home or to do something easier.
That’s true to work out. It’s true for a meeting. It’s true for friendship. It’s true for a hobby. It’s true at home. It’s true at church. Show up and see how far you can get. Keep showing up and embrace that it’s okay that this is something that isn’t easy for you. You don’t have to be a martyr about it or let everyone know how put out you are. Smile and go in and sit or stand and see what happens if you do that over and over.
I think grace will happen. Where you get what you don’t deserve and you’ll get even more than that.