The work of fear.

Fear is always evidence that I am going the right way.  Fear shows up when I am stepping out of the boat, onto the water.  I know it’s just water, I know it should not hold me.

The work of God is this:  to believe in the one he has sent.


I always fear my work.

Some mornings I lay in bed before the sun comes up, fearing my first waking child.  I am afraid of the day that stretches out in front of me, full of conflict, noise, and people touching me constantly.  Everything will get dumped out, crushed, and sticky.  There will be disappointment, heartache, and lots of body fluids.

I fear the phone call at the end of the day, the sound of my husband’s voice, so heavy with fatigue I think it will break the phone.

When I write out my training the night before, I know it will be good when the numbers scare me a little.  How can I possibly put that weight over my head?  That’s insane.

Sitting in front of a blank page, knowing something has to go on it, something from inside me, I am paralyzed by fear.

Sometimes, I just walk away.  I do not pick it up, the kid, the phone, the first glimmer of an idea.  I do not fill my belly with breath and stabilize my spine.  I do not reach my calloused hands around it.  I do not do the work.  I choose to stay afraid.

But when I step up to the bar, yank up my tights, throw my shoulders back, my children are lighter, the weight of my husband’s stress is something I can move, the daily pain of relationships, mistakes, bad planning, and stupid choices is just a set of exercises that challenges every muscle, breaks me down just enough to build me up.

Fear becomes an invitation.

I am invited to feel real weight.  I am invited to carry loads I was convinced I could never bear.

The work of the body.

I was an obese child with a pretty face and a sharp mind.  My parents were preachers, Charismatic, non-denominational preachers.  We learned to speak in tongues at vacation bible school and my babysitters cast out demons as easily as they ordered pizza.  Adults in my life lovingly repeated, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts!”  It’s what’s on the inside that the counts, the inside counts, the outside doesn’t count.  The outside only counts if you are a heathen, or just especially dumb.

Don’t you know all flesh is grass!?

Don’t you know this will all fade away!?

This is how I lived with my body most of my life.  My body was just a thing that didn’t matter, an inconvenient, uncomfortable container that I had to wait inside of, carry like a cross, pray to be delivered from, discipline mercilessly.


My body.  The stuff of me that exists outside my brain, and wherever my heart is.  My body is almost six feet tall, weighs  around 170 pounds, has gigantic feet stuck to one end, and a somewhat ridiculous amount of hair to the other.  Its trunk is almost longer than its legs, its arms never know how to hang.  It has never had much of a posterior, until the powerlifting.  Twice it has stretched to build and protect other little bodies , and twice it has been cut into, unexpectedly, to rescue the people living inside it.

My body has been producing and/or feeding other people for almost five years straight.  My body loves to deadlift, to squat, to move huge amounts of iron across the room.  My body pushes the old Volvo up the driveway, picks up the sandbox full of rainwater, sprints to catch the toddler running for the street.

My body carried me to school, to church, to band camp, to graduation.  It walked me on stage, off ledges, down the aisle.  It married my husband, made my babies, and pushed every single button that put these very words on the screen.

How does this not count?


Remember the part about our bodies as temples, and God valuing the human body so highly that he chose to live in one, and then walk around in it healing bodies, feeding bodies, and eventually letting his own be broken as a sacrifice for the whole world?


Your body is important to God.  Your body is important to your husband.  Your body is important to your children.  Your body should be important to you.

Does it get in your way?  Does it keep you from working, from playing, from loving?  Is it stacked up around you like sandbags, keeping the whole world out?  Is it the wall you hit when you’re inspired to do brave things?  Is it the excuse  you make when you are called but to afraid to answer?

Is your body strong?  Does it GO when you say go?  Does it carry you with grace and momentum?  Does it help you do your work?


Don’t outgrow this.

She does not tolerate hand-holding, and every where she goes, she is marching.  “Yep.  Yep,” she nods to herself and the choices she is making all on her own.  She has no fear, no hesitation.  She is joyful, determined, and deeply confident that where ever this path is going, it’s the right way.

The work of the depressed.

I’ve been thinking about my last post, about how I would read it if I were down in a pit.  If I were down in a pit, I would read it, but not hear it.  I would hear, “You are lazy and you are weak.  Something is wrong with you.  Something is very wrong with you.”

If you are depressed, there is something wrong with you.

But you are not wrong.

So let me simplify.

The work of the depressed is to stay alive.  If you are depressed, but you are alive, you are doing well.  If you are depressed, you are alive, and you have not hurt yourself or anyone else today, today is a successful day.  Keep going.




“Wow!  Look at how much weight you’ve lost!  I am so jealous.”

In my head I am preaching.  I am pounding the pulpit.  I am red faced, sweating, shouting, “YOU ARE FREE.”  But my mouth, my hands, are silent.

I am not one to pass on an open pulpit.  I am a preacher, teacher, talk for two hours straight on any subject I know anything about kinda gal.  It’s how I’m made.  I don’t fight it.  EXCEPT…except when someone comments on my body.

It makes sense why.  I’ve spent the bulk of my life pretending my body didn’t exist.  Compliments on my hair, my eyes, my voice, my intellect, the way I have creatively draped my body in a interesting patterns and textures, those I can take.  But for the last few months, I can’t even go to the bathroom at church without someone from the next stall over comment on how much weight I’ve lost.  They stop me on the way back from communion, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?  I WANT TO DO THAT!”

Every single time, I just smile and do my best to disappear.  I did it again this week, when the woman who passed me the offering plate said those words that tore my heart up.  “I’m so jealous,” she whispered.  My eyes welled up and I said, “Thank you,” and pretended the nursery called so I could quickly excuse myself.

But I didn’t run away because I was embarrassed.  This time I was just angry.  Not at her, bless her very honest heart, but at the insidious lie that convinces people that women who lose weight, women who are healed, women who find victory — they are lucky.

They are not lucky.

There is no secret to weight loss, just like there’s no secret to making art, or getting a degree, or coding a website, or playing the cello, or deadlifting twice your bodyweight.  Each of these things has a set of instructions, a path to follow, a method that works.  People who are successful in these endeavors follow the instructions and do the work.  People who do not succeed have made the choice to not follow the instructions or not do the work.

This should encourage you!  This is FREEDOM.

Not one of us is cursed to stay right down in the bottom of the pit.  Not one of us is hopeless.  Not one of us is just plain unlucky.  Is there something you want to do?  Is there a dream you want to follow, a business you want to start, a portrait you want to paint, a house you want to own, a weight you want to pull, a life you want to live?  Find the instructions and choose the work.  Choose the blessed, glorious, one-step-at-a-time work.


Total domination.

On New Year’s Eve, I stepped on the scale and realized that I weighed 150 pounds less than I did on the same day in 2001. That’s weird. Ten more pounds and I am officially half my heaviest weight. Between the fat I carried around since childhood and the two children I’ve carried in my body since, my skin remains an adequate container for those 320 pounds. Someday, when I’m all done expanding and contracting, I might get it all cut off and see what my body would look like had I not spent the first two decades of my life eating frosted Donettes. In the meantime, I strap it down with spandex and avoid looking in the mirror when I jump rope.

After ten years of resolving to lose weight, this year I’m more focused on the weight I can pick up off the floor than the weight I want to work off my body. I have my eyes set on a 255 pound squat and deadlift (1.5x my bodyweight) , and at least one unassisted pull-up. And a handstand. And complete mastery of the jump rope.

And all of that needs to be accomplished before I give my body over to another baby. If they’re all going to be 2.5 years apart, I’ve got until June. I can do all of that in six months. Right?

Other things I plan to dominate this year:

My fear of being ordinary. Blame it on the Aim-High program, or my parents, or Sesame Street, but I’ve always had a deep, deep belief that if I am ordinary in any way, I am worthless. Every part of me must be exceptional, special, perfect. As a mother in the age of information, the internet made it abundantly clear that I am not a unique snowflake. I am just a flower in the field. In the past, this truth silenced me. Dumb. This year I’ll just write whatever I want about whatever I care about and not spend a single second worrying about whether it’s been said before. You know why? Cause it’s been said before.

My fear of friends. Strangers don’t scare me. Strangers don’t have pictures of me from ten years ago or old letters I wrote when I was out of my mind. Strangers don’t remember that I’m supposed to be a published poet, Master Gardener, televangelist with four advanced degrees. But friends do. And friends think it’s damn funny that my permanent outfit nowadays is black spandex and Vibram Five Fingers.

My fear of my kids. I’m totally going to screw them up, but probably not in the ways I think. I need to relax and just let them be the bizarre, terrifying combinations of two bizarre and terrifying people, plus all that stuff that makes them their own weird people. If I’m going to make another one, I’ve gotta let go of the fear of ruining the ones I already have. My kids are healthy, safe, and their stories are written by a hand greater than mine.

So, that’s my list. Pick up heavy stuff, be normal, be nice, be a mom. What’s on your list?