Monday, March 1, 2010

Weigh In #24

This has been an interesting week. After last week's little blip, I've gotten a ton of support from folks. And I vowed to double my efforts to get back to it and keep the numbers going down again. But as the days have gone by, I've been wondering about a few things.

Six months ago, my weight was a noticeable part of how people knew me ("He's a big guy" or "Kinda reminds me of Chris Farley"). But now it is probably the defining characteristic of me for a lot of people. And there are days where it seems my sole purpose is to hit my weight loss goals. But, honestly, is that who I am?

Two things really sparked this thought about "who I am": one is the series that we are using for the High School Sunday school class I help lead at church and the other is an old sermon series from by Craig Groeschel.

The Sunday school series is called, appropriately enough, "Who am I?" and is from Simply Youth Ministry. It centers around understanding that your true self is rooted in your acceptance by God and not all the other things we end to focus on.

The sermon series is called Practical Atheist. It's over a year old (Nov '08) but I just got around to pulling it down the podcast. Pastor Craig talks about how many of us say we believe in God but then live as though God doesn't exist. This can have a big impact on where you draw your identity from, as well. It does for me anyway.

So, where does that bring us? Good question. I'm not altogether sure, but I believe God's working on me pretty good here. I've struggled in the past with identity. A lot. In college it really got going. I joined a fraternity as I was seeking identity. I found a great group of men that became my brothers and I got a label ("He's a Beta."). But I didn't find that "this is who I am" thing.

I looked for identity in the sports I played. I am a big soccer fan and have loved playing the game for a long time. In and after college (especially once I had a steady paycheck) I outfitted myself with gear (I mainly play goalkeeper) and "lifestyle" clothes. People could look at me and know that I either played soccer, was a huge fan, or that I was a poser who spent a lot of money. But it never gave me the feeling that "soccer player" was my identity.

In the last 10 years, my career has been a big focus of identity for me. As a matter of fact, I so strongly coupled my identity with my work that I nearly worked myself to death and caused quite a bit of heartache and pain for those closest to me.

There were (and are) many other things that provide labels that I and others attach to me. Some are good and some not so much. The ones I always thought were the best were "Husband and Father". And they are great - they blow all of the others clean away... for a while.

The other things start sneaking in telling me that it's not enough. I hear things like "What will people think if you're not the go-to guy for all of these things?" and "They will really love you if you just do these things perfectly." or "Imagine what everyone will think of you if you can be the best at this stuff."

So I get wrapped up in this weight loss thing. And when something happens, like last week, that tarnishes the effort (that is, my image) it strikes deep into this identity thing. And then I get on the scale again this week and the wounds are healed a little because I see this:


But it's a temporary salve for my fragile identity/ego/image/self. I need more.

And what I'm learning is that I really need fewer things for my identity. In fact, I need only one thing. I read passages like this one in Colossians:
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Col 2:9-10 NLT)

Or, to paraphrase, I am complete in Christ.

Now, how to live like it's true....

Original illustration courtesy of barunpatro with a little modification by yours truly.