I haven’t always been a numbers girl. In fact, when I was in middle school, I was failing math so miserably that my older sister had to tutor me every day after school. Something clicked in that season in regard to numbers and I went on to become a state champion in high school math competitions (insert nerd emoji here).
The thing about numbers is they are black and white. There is no gray area with numbers. They either add up or they don’t.
I found this to be true in my quest for the “perfect body”. When I was a young child, I have no clue what my numbers were as I did not weigh often, or wear fitted clothing that required a number. But in high school through my now thirties I have bounced around in size from as low as a size 2 up to a size 12, not including my pregnancy sizing. My weight has fluctuated from 120 up to my tipping point of 200 pounds.
Recently I went for my annual physical and I was dreading the weigh-in. I gave up weighing myself a long time ago as I prefer to measure how my clothes fit and along with my energy levels. But the doctor’s office doesn’t ask how our clothes fit, they simply tell us to step on the scale as numbers appear to be black and white (we won’t get into the muscle weighs more than fat discussion here).
I tipped the scales at a number higher than I have seen in quite a while. In fact, the number shocked me. How could I have gained so much weight? I work out six days a week and I eat healthy, whole foods at least 90% of the time. What more could I do to stop gaining weight?
While every square inch of me wanted to run and find the latest diet I should pursue, I felt the holy spirit rise up. He asked me this simple question, “Who told you what number is right for you?”.
We have been fed numbers our entire lives. Earlier in this post, I shared my numbers with you. I bet as you read those numbers you placed yourself in one of two places. You either read the numbers and thought, “Oh good, at least I’m not that big” or you said, “I would give anything to be that small”. We have been taught from a young age to look at numbers and place ourselves on the spectrum.
But something different happened to me when I stepped on that scale and saw a number that, quite honestly, shocked me. I felt separated from the number. Instead of seeing the number and receiving it as my identity, I saw it for what it was….a number.
Numbers do not have feelings or emotions; they are simply facts. Yet we allow them to play with our emotions on a daily basis.
Yes, numbers have the ability to show us where we are off and perhaps should pay closer attention to, like our dwindling away bank account that would appreciate if we would lay off Amazon shopping for a while. But numbers also have the ability to bully us if we allow it. Numbers can scream, “you aren’t good enough. No matter what you do you fail. Give up.”.
For me, the greatest defeat comes when I am doing all the right things, but numbers just aren’t adding up. This applies to much more than the numbers on the scale. My husband and I have worked hard yet not always seen numbers add up in business. I have poured my heart and soul into growing my online platform only to see things grow slowly. I have run a marathon only to find I gained weight during my training.
The Bible is full of accounts when God would tell a leader to fall back and do less. Consider the story of Gideon, the strategy God gave him left them with only 300 soldiers. But they won. When we are willing to submit our ways to God in all that we do, the numbers may not make sense to us, but there will be peace and victory because God’s way is always best.
My friends, this is not a petition to quit exercising and eat whatever we want, rather, it is a call to steward our bodies well and trust God with the results. Ask him what number you should weigh or what size pants are healthy for your body.
Galatians 6:9 reminds us:
“Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for, in due season, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Don’t give up. And do not let the numbers in your life define you.
I am always cheering for you,
P.S. Part of the reason in writing this post is to process my own emotions around this topic. One of the most therapeutic things you can do if you are struggling in any area is to journal. See below for a writing challenge that may help you process this journey well.
Writing Assignment: Dialoguing with Your Distorted Thoughts
(adapted from 8 Keys to Recovering from an Eating Disorder)
Write down some of your automatic, critical, or distorted thoughts. You may already know some of your common ones but if not, a good time to see them clearly is right before or after an upsetting situation. After writing them down begin to challenge them using your healthy self. Look out for cognitive distortions and extreme words like “always, never, everyone, and nobody”, they are red flags for distorted thoughts. Be sure to replace that distorted thinking with the truth from God’s word.