Tennis Shoes : how identity affects small choices | The Speckled Goat: Tennis Shoes : how identity affects small choices


Tennis Shoes : how identity affects small choices

Christian Christ devotion Jesus and identity exercise as a believer

I was that kid.

You know, the one who faked ankle injuries out on the kickball field. The one who somehow made it to the end of the line when it was time for my team to bat in Whiffle Ball. I failed every Presidential Fitness challenge, with the exception of the flexibility test.

Those days out on the elementary school field, with its dying scratchy grass and occasional patch of dandelions, firmly solidified my identity in my mind. I was not an athlete.

I didn't run, didn't catch, didn't throw, didn't kick. And I certainly didn't sweat.

Bookish and smart, I didn't need any of that, anyway. And my fast little metabolism worked overtime but kept me healthy and trim.

This image of myself as a non-athlete was so ingrained in my being that I bowed out of rec classes, never tried out for an inter-mural team in college, and poked fun at myself for being out of breath on those rare occasions that my roommate took me out salsa dancing.

It was a mantra- part of who I was. I don't exercise.

Of course, this whole non-exercising self-image became more of an issue as I got older and developed a medical condition that makes it easy to gain pounds and hard to get rid of them.

Still staunchly anti-workout, I cut back on carbs (until cookies showed up at work, and then, you know, all bets were off). I started drinking less coffee and more water.

And then I saw a picture of myself that made me realize that losing weight and getting healthy wasn't just something I could wish- I actually had to do it.

Goals were made, and I formed a loose plan. And it had to involve exercise. Yikes.

At first, everything moaned at the decision.

I don't work out. I don't run or jog. 

The surface objections were symptoms of something deeper, and I peeled back layers to reveal things I've been telling myself, the whispers in my mind.

I'm lazy. I don't have enough self-control. I'm not good enough. I can't do it. I'm not like her. I will fail at everything I try. 

As you know, if you've been reading along, I've been working on retraining. On capturing thoughts and holding them up to the light of Christ. The light of who I really am. It's making a difference- in the big things like honesty and fear and anger, and in the little things, like exercising and specific situations. It's making a difference- this rerouting of my thoughts.

So as those whispers filled up the deepest places of my heart, I asked myself the questions.

Who am I?

I am one in whom Christ dwells.

Where do I live? 

I live in the unshakable Kingdom of God.

What I do (or don't do) doesn't define me.
I have power through Him- power to overcome temptation. 
My identity doesn't depend on my performance or my consistency or the number on the scale. 
I can make a choice to do this thing. 

Now, in the evenings, I take the dog on long walks. I sometimes jog. I sometimes do a workout DVD.

I'm realizing that all those things people say about exercise are true- more energy, stress relief. It makes my body feel good. I like that.

But it's still not who I am.

And there's freedom in that, you know?

I like to be an all-in person- it's consistency or nothing. If I miss a day of whatever new goal I'm working toward, I mentally give up. It's over. I think that's why so many of my past "diets" and "workout plans" have failed. But knowing my identity allows me a second chance, or a third, or the option to change my goals.

I'm not chained to it, because it's not who I am.

I still don't see myself as a fitness nut, a jogger, a work-out-junkie.

I am not the things I do. I am one in whom Christ dwells.

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  1. I love this idea - we are never what we do :)

  2. Oh, my, I certainly need this message. I'm a do-er, and it's a constant struggle to base my identity on who I am in Christ rather than the number of check marks on my do-list.