[guestpost]There are few people I adore like Kathi Lipp. Not only is she a talented writer and speaker, not only is she the rarest of friends, she is also a woman determined to tell the truth—about herself, her struggles and her God. I love that. Crave it. Because, if you hadn’t noticed, I’m very much an in-progress woman. After writing Undone: A Story Of Making Peace With An Unexpected Life—and then hearing from so many readers like you—I’m absolutely convinced of the necessity of this kind of risky, lived-out authenticity. It’s what connects us. It’s what strengthens us. It’s what gives you and I courage to wake up and keep living. All that to say, enjoy today’s guest post, my friends. I have a pretty good feeling you’ll find a safe haven in Kathi Lipp. [/guestpost]
My mom always said that my smart mouth would get me into trouble
It finally did.
I have the privilege of being on the message development team at my church, Church on the Hill in San Jose, CA. This means I get into a room with a bunch of pastors and brainstorm ideas for illustrations, references, topics for sermons.
But as soon as I heard what the new series was about, I started checking out other local churches. Because, honestly, I just couldn’t take it.
For six weeks my church would be focused on “Healthy Living.” And no, I’m not talking “Spiritual Healthy Living”; I’m talking in-your-face “How are you doing physically?”
Help me, Jesus.
Pastor Scott and I are friends, and we spend a lot of time talking about everything—kids, marriage, speaking, writing and, yes, even physical health. But a six week series? I’d rather go to a church where they were talking about something lighter—like politics.
He asked me why I was so hesitant. This is when my mouth got me in trouble.
“You are unqualified to speak on this. As someone who has struggled with her weight since coming into this world as an almost 10 pound baby, I don’t want to hear from someone who has been in shape their entire life. I don’t want to hear about weight loss from a skinny pastor. ”
“Then you should speak,” Scott said.
For the record: I would rather speak about sex than physical health.
I told him I would pray about it, my polite way of saying “no.” Because this? My weight and my physical health?
It’s my undone story.
You see, I’ve had goals, and I’ve accomplished a lot of them. God has lavished more than I ever hoped or expected.
But my weight and physical health goals? Most of those remain blank pages in my big book of goals.
This is my struggle: How do you still have hope even when you’ve failed so many times?
When I think about the trying and the failing, the Bible character I most closely relate to is the woman with the issue of blood. I cling to this story. (Thanks for hanging in there with us, guys! I know how much you love this particular story!)
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
—Luke 8:42b-48 (NIV
This, to me, is the bravest woman in the bible.
On her period for 12 years.
Marginalized for twelve years because of her conditions.
What does this woman do?
She pushes her way through the crowd, touching people and making them unclean as well. Inconveniencing so many along the way so that she can get to the healer.
I love her. And I relate to her.
I relate to her because she was excluded. How I know this weight thing is a spiritual battle? Because of all the things I have been unable to do or have self-selected out of doing. Because of my weight, I’ve said no to trips, family functions, friendships, ministry opportunities, and the list goes on and on.
And I relate to her because she felt like she was out of options.
She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.—Mark 5:26
I feel her.
I’ve tried everything. Go on a diet, go off the diet; after a month, I’m ten pounds heavier than when I started. The bleeding woman had tried everything, but life only got worse.
My problem isn’t a lack of diets or a lack of exercise programs.
(Please don’t send me vitamins. Or a fiber supplement. I’m working on it. I don’t need a new shake).
Mine is a heart issue that I deal with every day. In so many ways beyond food.
So many of you feel the same way, whether your struggle centers around weight, a wayward child, or a bad marriage. You’ve tried everything, but it’s only gotten worse. And you’ve missed out on life as a result.
So how do you cling to hope when you’ve tried and failed countless times? Here’s how I’m doing it:
1. I will dare to stay dangerously, unreasonably hopeful.
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My HOPE is in you. —Psalm 39:7
I’m going to dare to hope for transformation. Daring to hope is dangerous business. Hope sounds like such a happy word—but of all the brave crazy things to do, hope is at the top of this list. The world will tell you that you are being unreasonable. That you’ve failed too many times. But our hope is not in the newest diet or the latest PX whatever. Our hope is in God only. And God? He is in the life-changing business of hope. For me this is the hardest one of these three. My brain wants to shame me and say “How dare you hope?” But God says, “If your hope is in the world, you will fail every time. Put your hope in me.”
2. I will dare to stay annoyingly persistent.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. —Hebrews 12:1
Showing up. Every single day for your own life.
Throwing off the excuses. The fear, guilt and shame that hold us back. That is what crazy reckless hopers do. Come be crazy with me. Do the hard, holy work of showing up.
3. I will dare to stay scarily vulnerable.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. —James 5:16
The vulnerable part isn’t saying, “I have a problem, I need help.” The vulnerable part is three weeks from now, when my friend holds me accountable for not walking. For not showing up. How do I react then?
I will stay vulnerable in the hard parts. The middle parts. The failing parts.
Are you willing to hope? Will you make space in your life for transformation? Will you stay persistent and vulnerable? Will you keep showing up?
I’m daring greatly, to show up and be available to let God transform me in deeper ways every single day.
Oh, and by the way, I decided to not let my weight exclude me yet again. I spoke at our church, on the very things I wrote here. Yes, I was terrified. Yes, it was awkward. But I’m no longer excluding myself from what God is asking me to do because of this extra weight.
What is your undone story? What is the situation that you’re scared to hope for? And if this is your struggle, or even if your struggle is something else completely– would you dare to hope with me? It’s a dangerous thing—this hope game—but it’s the only way to live the adventure God is calling you to.