I couldn’t stop staring and wondering if it was broken. This was the second scale that we had bought in recent years and it kept saying the same thing. I was not losing weight. After committing to going to the gym and exercising several times a week for nearly a year, things were not getting better. Never mind that the doctor said I was in good health and that some of the fat I had put on had now been converted to muscle. I didn’t care, I just wanted to weigh less and I was now ready to throw in the towel. If all the “wisdom” of the health care and weight loss experts was not working on me, why was I even trying? Then it hit me, if all my efforts to lose weight had resulted in this “status quo”, what would happen if I actually gave up. I dreaded the thought, committed to a new exercise regime and began thinking that maybe this weight loss issue was bigger than regular exercise. Maybe, I would actually have to change some things about the way I was eating too.
Habits are hard to form and even harder to sustain – good ones that is. Bad habits seem to leap out at me and tempt me on every side. Why not eat a chocolate bar a day instead of an apple? Why not sleep in rather than get up and meet with my men’s group? Why not check Facebook again for the hundredth time rather than spend time in God’s word? No matter what the habit is that I am convicted about, there is always a counter balancing temptation to give up, quit or sabotage the things I know that I should be doing. Taking the easy route is tempting, because IT IS EASY. Doing hard things or even necessary things that just take time are much easier to avoid just because they are hard or simply time consuming.
Lately, I have been convicted that I have been avoiding some hard relationships. It is so much easier to love people that I like. People that I don’t get along with, don’t see eye to eye with or simply find irritating are much easier to avoid. While I don’t think God is calling me to spend all my time with these types of people, I do think He is calling me to spend some time with them. Rather than doing everything in my power to exclude these types of people from my life, I am being compelled to learn from the pain of relational disconnect. How “good” of God to put a few of these people in my immediate family and work relationships where I can’t run and hide. My grandmother calls these types of people “sandpaper” and describes these relationships as sandpapering as we rub against each other. How fun – not! Just thinking about it now nearly gives me hives.
As I contemplate the challenging people in my life I am reminded of a song by the group Jesus Culture called “One Thing Remains”. The chorus says,
“Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.”
How many times have I failed my heavenly father and yet He still loves me? How many times have I chosen a path that He did not approve of and yet He was still there when I realized my folly? How many times have I been hard headed and disobedient to His will for my life? Humanly speaking, I must irritate Him on a regular basis and yet He never gives up on me. Despite this, I am so easily tempted to sprint in the other direction when I am faced with people that I don’t get along with. While I am not God, He lives in me and through me. I have a feeling that leaning into these hard relationships is going to require that most basic of commitments, listening and then serving. I often find that when I really learn what is going on with another person and then step into their lives through acts of service, God softens my heart. It is too bad that the softening of my heart requires so much sandpaper.