I Want To Pump (clap!) You Up!
Anyone remember Hanz and Franz – the good ol’ Saturday Night Live spoof of Arnold Schwarzenegger? For that matter…does anyone remember Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was simply the muscle dude? Before he started acting. Before he got into politics. And before…well, all the other stuff.
Recently, I started wondering if anyone remembered me “before”. When I was skinny healthy. When I was a regular part of society. When I was an athlete. I know my babies don’t remember. I have been sick-Mama most of their sweet baby lives.
I was talking with a friend of mine recently about how I “used to be” before all this medical drama. Before I go any further, I must inform you that this precious friend of mine, is – how shall I say – a little person. Not “little person”, as in the politically correct way to say midget. I mean, she is little – like, petite. Her hands are small, her bones are small, her jeans are small, and I would wager that she has never worn a shoe size greater than six. She is an itty bitty. I, however, ain’t no itty bitty. And no, I’m not just talking about the forty pounds that I am still bitter about that I’ve gained on this roller coaster ride these last two years. I mean, even in high school, when I was in the best shape of my stinkin’ life, I still wasn’t little.
When I had a butt, it was round and relatively perky. My thighs were pretty big and muscular when I was younger, and although I am only 5’5’’, I have been this height since sixth grade, so I wasn’t ever really know for being an itty bitty.
(I feel the need to interject here that although I am currently way larger than I enjoy being, hear me friend, there is no magic size you should feel like you have to be. My big may be your small. My small may be your big. I am working through the insecurity that has come with this, so please forgive me if that oozes out a bit. More on that later.)
Anyway, so itty bitty friend and I were talking about life, our snarky personalities and our body issue drama. I was telling her, casually, about how I used to be in very good shape. I was a pretty good athlete in my younger years and was sort of kick-butt at lifting weights. Now, I was the first to admit that I had no upper body strength – like zero – but my ‘soccer legs’ were kind of impressive.
(Prepare yourself for a complete lack of modesty) “Ya, I wasn’t ever little, but I was pretty much all muscle back then. And, I was strong. My guy friends were even kind of impressed, cause I could squat more than some of them. I think I maxed out at like 570 lbs. once. It was pretty awesome…”
Now, my husband is not like me. Understatement of the century. He isn’t a social butterfly. He doesn’t have to be around people to be happy. And he surely isn’t nosey. Which is why I was shocked when I was interrupted from the complete other room, during my prideful rant.
“What did you just say, babe?”
I repeated my comment about my glory days.
He laughed out loud. Like, hard and for a while.
“Babe. There’s absolutely no way you ever squatted 570 lbs. Never!”
“Ryan, you didn’t know me back then, I was pretty strong.”
You see, Ryan loves to tease me about my athletic days. I met my darling man at the age of 18. Yes, I was still young but I had already had the career ending injury and had quit playing sports. So, while young and thin, he never knew me when I was a good athlete. And the man loves to get my goat about it.
We went back and forth about it for a few more minutes. I told him I wasn’t trying to exaggerate, but I did think that 570 was my max number. He laughed again – a lot – shook his head and left the room.
Itty bitty and I continued our conversation for a while and enjoyed talking about how humbling it is to get old. She and I are a mess when we get together, but it’s usually pretty stinkin’ funny.
Eventually, she had to go and feed her kids or some lame excuse like that, and so we said our goodbyes.
Now, mind you, by this time, my darling man had gone outside to workout. He actually uses things like this on a fairly regular basis.
He recently had to sell his set of 110 lbs and 100 lbs. It was a sad day for him when a strapping twenty-nothing year old answered his add on Craig’s list. He had to face the fact that those were too much weight for him now. But, shoot, my man is hot and in great shape, I say we focus on that. He is gonna kill me for typing that.
Anyway, my sweet itty bitty had been gone for a good while now and I had all but forgotten about our conversation when Mr. Know-It-All my man comes in from the garage and says, “Hey babe, come take a look at this.”
He pulls out his phone and shows me this –
To which I snidely replied,
“Babe, that is Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was 20 years old and was not only Mr. Universe but also Mr. Olympia, and probably on steroids. Do you see the look on his face? Take a good look. He is seriously struggling here and that is squatting only 405 lbs. (insert his long pause) ANROLD SCHWARZENEGGER, babe! Do you see why what you said is so preposterous now!?! I don’t know how you ever got it in your head that you could carry that much weight.”
Darn that man.
Today, weeks later, I have been thinking a lot about that ol’ Terminator. Not because I went to the gym. Although I’d love to! But, because I have been carrying a weight like you wouldn’t believe. My dear friends, who remarkably have stuck by me have heard lately how I am SO STINKIN’ TIRED OF ALL OF THIS!!
I mean it. The last few days haven’t been pretty.
I am tired of being in pain. Do you know I haven’t had ONE pain free day in like two years. Not one. I have been FLAT on my couch for 24 hours a day for about 11 of the last 16 months. Literally.
I am tired of over-analyzing every headache.
I am tired of not knowing what answer to tell people when they say “Well, has it worked!?!”
I am tired of seeing perfectly healthy Moms seem to take for granted the precious things they get to do with their kiddos.
I am tired of getting mail from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Most of all, I am tired of asking God, “What do I have to do to be myself again!?!”
Friend, I am just plain tired.
This weight has been so much more than I can bear.
And, it’s not only that I’ve been carrying a heavy weight. It’s that I have been carrying it off and on for so stinkin’ long. I give it to God. I take it back. Repeat a hundred times. Friend, do you know that even a gallon of milk would be “heavy” of you had to carry it all day every day for a week.
Well, this ain’t milk. And it ain’t been a week. The weight of my illness has made 570 lbs. seem like toddler’s warm up reps.
One simple reason. And I’ll be darned if my darling husband didn’t try and warn me.
“Babe, I don’t know what made you think you could carry that much weight.”
I am simply not designed for it. And, my sweet friend, neither are you!
Maybe you are fighting the demon of your past. The choices you made. The people you knew. The person you were. They all keep leering their ugly heads at you every. single. moment. you get close to a life with joy.
Perhaps you are obsessing about your outward appearance. Your skin. Your hair. Your boobs. Your wrinkles. Your everything. The weight you bear concerning the weight you are is simply too much to carry. Every mirror you see just shows you the same dang thing. It’s ‘not good enough’ no matter which angle you stare into it.
Maybe you are entering a phase of your life that is filled with more uncertainty than you imagined. You’ve raised your kids and now your home feels cavernous and lonely. You knew your purpose then. But, now you wonder what you are really here for – and the fear of not figuring that out weighs more heavily than the echoing quiet house you face each day.
Or maybe your burden comes from your business card. Such a small piece of paper, but such heavy implications it carries. Can you really handle this position? Are you cut out for this work? Every quarterly report is piled onto your shoulders as you frantically juggle so many balls in the air day after day after day. People ask, “How do you do it so well?” You know the answer is; you don’t.
Maybe your weight comes from you maiden name. Your family tree has so many broken off branches it hardly resembles a tree anymore. You never have measured up. You rarely felt loved. You don’t recognize joy. You can’t even imagine a life without that weight you carry. It has been with you since that doctor slapped your hiney and weighed you into this world.
It breaks my heart to think that some of you have been carrying so much weight for so long.
As I cried out to God today in yet another hot bubble bath, He spoke to me through three precious and perfectly, Sovereignly timed songs. I would love for you to enjoy these with me as well if you have time.
Strong Enough – by Matthew West
Stronger – by Mandisa
Walk on Water – by Britt Nicole
But, even if you don’t listen to the songs, precious friend, could you please let me look you right in the face, like Jesus did to me today, so I can say to YOU – “What makes you think you could carry this much weight?!?”
I surely cannot.
But God can.
He has proven it time and time and time and time and time again in my life. But, I don’t want this to be the Caroline show. So, I will show you His strength through the perfect and holy lens of Scripture.
Have you read Hebrews 11? It is often referred to as the “faith chapter”. In this chapter, the writer of Hebrews lists off numerous people who, by faith, did great things for God. Ps. My name is SO not here. It mentions Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ parents, Moses, Joshua, and Rahab. If you know anything about any of those people – they had some super-crazy strong faith. Then, the writer even goes on to say that he doesn’t even have time to mention Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets. There’s that much great faith going on here, friend. But hear what he has to say about these great faithFULL people. Please pay attention to what God did!!
Hebrews 11:33-34 “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”
I have never faced an army. I’ve only seen lions at the zoo. But, man do I want God to do this in me.
I want God to turn my weakness into strength. And, I want this for you, too! Friend, the first step is to admit our weakness.
Do this with me, please. Let’s come to terms with the measly 135 lbs. we can squat and quit trying to max out at 570 lbs. Shall we?
Instead of Mr. Universe – we serve the God of the Universe. There is no strength like His. There is no God but Him. And HE. IS. FOR. US.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
1 Corinthians 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
Mark 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”