Monday, October 22, 2012

Inside Out

So I'm on my way home from the gym, doing a little mental assessment of my workout, and I think the Holy Spirit decided this was a good time to open my eyes a little bit about us humans. Maybe part of the reason we are such a sexual culture...a culture of outward appearance...a culture of physically based that we're lazy. Now I realize that probably sounds ironic...or maybe just wrong. But I think there is something to it.

Of course going to the gym, working out, eating healthy, etc. requires work and effort. And of course most of the people identified as incredibly fit (physically speaking) are not what we deem lazy. But I think it all depends on the scale we are using.

If we use a physical, outward based scale where one end is the proverbial "couch potato" and other end is fitness freak/gym rat, then certainly those people devoting time and energy to getting their bodies in peak shape are certainly not lazy. BUT if we use a different scale, one that maybe goes from "complacent about the person I am" to "striving to be the best person I can", then I think we may find a whole lot of us on the "lazy" end of that scale.

I'm being a little too broad here I know, because physical health is important. Eating right and taking care of your physical body are important and good and godly. What I am getting at here is the prioritization of this very visible aspect of ourselves versus the equally visible (though we don't think about it too often), but less visually apparent, inner part of ourselves.

It seems to me that improving the inside part of ourselves...our character flaws, our weaknesses, our sinful much, much harder than making ourselves lift a weight or run on the treadmill. It's not as fun, the benefits are not always as immediate and not always as easy to see, and in the current culture, it often seems less valuable. But it wasn't always that way, and I don't think it is that way every where today...and with everyone. In fact I know that it is not.

Still, there is no denying that we live in a world that is preoccupied with the outside. And let's face it, the outside is easier to work on. I mean I know dragging yourself to the gym can be a real challenge. And I know denying yourself that slice of cake takes real effort. But compared to holding our tongue when all we can think to say is something bitter or spiteful, or compared to forgiving the person who maybe even deliberately hurt us, or compared to carving out 15 minutes of our day to spend in prayer...compared to those things...I think the physical stuff is comparatively easy for most least I know it is for me.

Not only does working out our inner self require a lot of's ugly. We have to confront the fact that at our core we really are not very nice people. Most of us are inherently (it seems) selfish. We are easily offended. We carry grudges. We judge others to make ourselves feel better. We do all kinds of things that make us not very attractive. So can we really be blamed for focusing our effort somewhere else? I mean rather than confront that ugliness and the self-doubt and fear that comes along with a good look at ourselves, it seems perfectly natural that we turn to something we can more easily control...our outside appearance. Ultimately, we want to be loved. Ultimately, we want to be wanted. And whether we admit it or not, most of us are terrified of being unlovable.

I think we all have a sense of this deep down. We know somehow, that left to ourselves, we fall short. We know the ugliness inside us...even if we never look at it. And so we feel like we are unlovable from the get-go. We feel unworthy of love. BUT...we need it. We long for it. In fact we were created for it. So we have a choice. We either work on who we are and try to clean up the ugly parts of ourselves...or maybe...since that is really hard and real slow going sometimes...maybe instead we can pretend to be better than we are...and then we can distract people with the stuff on the outside. I think too often that is the road we take...not really because we are lazy....but because we are afraid.

But the good news is that regardless of how unloveable we feel...we are loved. And we are loved by the greatest of all lovers...our Creator. And even more, the truth is that when He created us...He created a good person. So this means that at our core....we are good. Did you get that...we are already good. And so while it may take work to get to where we are more often kind than not, or to where our default is to think of others more than ourselves, or to where we enter every situation looking for how we can best share God's love...the good news is that we can get there...because that is who we were made to be. Rather than changing something from what it really is....we are really just scraping off all the crud to let what is already there shine through. And THAT is pretty good news.

1 comment:

Trisha Niermeyer Potter said...

I really enjoyed this post! As the daughter of someone who was definitely a health nut, I can identify very well with the take care of the outward appearance mentality even if the inside suffers. Fortunately, the Lord brought my father closer to Him when his physical health declined rapidly. I'd never seen my football player physique father in weaker shape physically, nor had I seen ever seen him as honest and vulnerable as he was before he died. As someone who isn't good about working out, that is a gift and takes discipline as well. It's all about balance--one that comes from putting God first and accepting His unconditional love.