About a year ago, God made me realize that I was putting everything above Him by seeking too much control. I know, it only took me 30 years (eye roll).
First, I became aware of the fact that I was putting my looks and fitness obsession before Him. I would be ridden with guilt if I didn’t work out a certain amount or eat well enough and would obsess that it would affect my weight or the way I looked. I would complain about “eating too much” then force myself to over exercise the next day to even it out. I knew it didn’t work that way, but I was so ready to believe a false idea about what it meant to have the perfect body. Truly, I did it because I thought it was the one thing I could control but it caused me to hate my body for what it was not.
As God usually does, He hollered out to gain my attention when I became sidelined from working out for a few months when I injured myself from overexertion. During this time of self-inflicted rest, I began to realize that I do not need to over exert body to feel and look good. In fact, over exerting my body led to an injury in the first place. Through this process, I began to learn that God has declared my body good because he made me. I am slowly learning how to value the way God has made me (even in what I consider imperfections). While it is hard to put aside that controlling mindset, now I workout because it makes me feel good (physically and mentally), not because I have to do it to chase an unhealthy body image.
In my usual human nature though, I quickly turned to obsess about something new, and a new job became my newest idol. I am a passionate person and when I get involved in something I throw my whole energy into it. On top of that, when I see a need or someone expresses that they don’t have time to do a task, I am your gal! I hate when other people feel or express that they are stressed and I act as if it is my responsibility to take care of their needs. As a result, I end up taking on extra tasks above what I am actually capable of. And if God tells me I can’t control the way I look, well can’t I at least control this?
Despite the busy season of work I was in, I went full force ahead. Work-life balance, what’s that? I thought this was normal. But my husband sweetly reminded me that I was going a bit overboard (okay, a lot overboard). I was not taking time to focus on our marriage, let alone I was driving myself crazy trying to make work my sole desire. I convinced myself I needed to take on the extra work because I didn’t trust that it would get done without me or thought my coworkers would be upset with me, even though these extra projects were not my responsibility. I found that I was over exerting myself once again and was wearing myself out emotionally, mentally, and physically. Whether I realized it or not during that time, God had been put on the back burner again.
As with all things we put before God, they don’t ultimately satisfy and I was not getting the fulfillment or praise I was looking for. So on to the next thing, which was (and still is) the root of it all, seeking affirmation from others. I was building the foundation of who I was and how I saw myself based on what other people thought of me. In my marriage, I needed my husband to continually remind me that he loved me and tell me that I was good enough. I needed a constant filling of positive affirmations for my self-love store because, as I detail in my “Gods love vs. Self Love” post, I had none myself. I was seeking the temporary, makes you feel good affirmation, not the long-term eternal one.
God lovingly made me realize that seeking affirmation from others was not going to fill me up in a lasting way. After all, King Solomon said over 2000 years ago in Ecclesiastes that these desires apart from God are all futile. Seems simple, right? Well not exactly. I had come to a place where I didn’t have anything to desire after and it made me uncomfortable. When I have so desperately wanted the instant gratification, how could I feel God’s perfect love for me? What is the next thing that would fill that void?
God is love and has SLOWLY made me realize that I need Him above all else. He is my foundation and the source of my true identity. He will give me the life-giving joy that I have been longing for. The things of this world are meaningless and will never fill up my empty well. Once I begin to accept this, life becomes so much more freeing.
Yes, there are still things I put above God that I have not even realized in my stubborn, prideful nature. I will probably continue to do this and struggle with just accepting His life-giving fulfillment for the rest of my life. But God is faithful and good and will lovingly send an alert signal to kindly bring me back into fellowship and rest with Him.
My hope for all of us is that we strive to hear His voice, whether it be to convict us when we have replaced Him as the center of our lives or just to lovingly rest in His peace and wisdom.