DS and TPC are taking opposite sides of this battle, and I think it’s weird. It shouldn’t be a battle… it’s just seasons of life and the abilities/handicaps they leave us all with.
So let’s talk fitness, beauty, vanity – and living your life for Christ.
Somewhere along the line as a Christian woman, I picked up the idea that doing things in which I delight, especially if those things are temporal in nature, is sin. THAT’S NOT TRUE. Can they be sin? Yeah, sure. Anything that gets between you and God or prevents you from loving your neighbor is sin. Personal conviction, please. But temporal enjoyment is not, in itself, sinful. If it is, we need to all go become monks.
The ghost in my head thinks that the only thing I should do as a Nice Christian Lady is stay home with my kids until they’re out of HS, then volunteer at church (preferably) or work a boring job until retirement. Helping other Nice Christian Ladies is okay. Working to earn an income – a real income, not pin money – isn’t okay. The ghost in my head thinks it’s okay to be pretty… as long as I’m not TOO pretty. It’s okay to look nice, as long as I don’t spend much time, money, or effort on it. It’s okay to be good at my work, but it’s not okay to put myself forward. It’s okay to be fit, but I should get there by spending 30 minutes/day walking my dog… anything else is a bit extravagant, really.
But that’s a ghost in my head, not Bible.
I’m going to rattle off my own history here… I’ve always been the strong one who sucked at anything cardio, but could endure. When you’re in your 20s, you take endurance for granted. You have such an amazing recovery rate – even if you do something way out of your norm, in a couple of days you’re totally back to normal you. It’s like that endurance was on the shelf, just waiting for me.
Then I had a couple of semi-bedrest pregnancies, which left me with a terror of getting tired. I thought about explaining what happened when I got tired, but I’m going to spare you… 🙂 Let’s just say that it was immediate evidence that I needed to rest, stat. Logically the terror shouldn’t have lasted, but logic isn’t always the thing, you know?
And then a few years after that… I broke my foot in half. Oh yay, no more hikes for me. No impact stuff. Depressing. I worked out to tapes, intermittently. Got stronger, but it wasn’t that dramatic.
And then, a bit more than a year ago, I found crossfit.
Yes. It’s expensive. Yes, we get way too excited about it. No, I don’t wear nearly as much clothing down at the box as I’d wear to a normal gym. Yes, three times a week means I’m tired, a lot. It has a cost. 43 ain’t 23, no way, no how. Recovery is a haul.
BUT IT’S GIVEN ME BACK MY JOY IN LIVING IN THIS BODY. I can do stuff! I can lift the dog easily! I could run … well, without the foot. My endurance is back! I can do things I couldn’t even do when I was a kid – in a few weeks I’ll have my handstand (so close, so very close) and I now row a faster mile than I could run in high school… substantially so.
I’m not skinny yet, that takes diet as well as exercise. I’m the same weight as at the start, substantial body comp changes have taken place. My blood pressure is down. My cholesterol is down. My energy is up. I’m not THRILLED that my weight will involve not eating as much as I like, but whatever. Entry fee.
Is it vanity when I post progress pix? Maybe a little, let’s be honest. But mostly inside what I feel like is a little kid who’s bouncing up and down saying, “didja see? I did the thing! Look how I’ve changed!” It’s delight.
That.Is.Not.Sin. That’s a blessing which I am enjoying. Does everyone have to enjoy such a blessing to be a good Christian? No. that’s prosperity gospel nonsense. But I’m not a bad Christian either.
And when I get excited because I nail an outfit, or get the makeup right… is it sin to delight in what God gave me that I’m taking better care of? Is it? To be pleased? To have some fun? Is it sinful to want to be very very good at what I do professionally – and make money doing it?
Vanity is a sin. When I was 15 and hiking my boobs up and my shirts down so DH would snap out of the fog and pay attention to me, THAT was sinful. Picking out a good color and choosing styles that allow me to be taken seriously? Not sinful. Enjoying being pretty, wearing pretty clothes? Not sinful. It’s childlike fun. At least for me, it really is fun, and yes – I’d be happy to give a good twirl if you have little girls who need to ooo and ahh.
Delight isn’t a sin. Fun isn’t a sin. Being healthy isn’t a sin. And pursuing those things isn’t sinful either.
Of *course* we have to take care of duty before pleasure, and of course others come before ourselves. Duh, we’re committed Christians here.
But we’re allowed to enjoy what we were given, and take care of it.
Life cycles vary. The reason I’m having so much fun is that I know what life is like without a body that can do the things my body can do now. I am so very appreciative, so grateful. It’s not easy – it hasn’t BEEN easy.
Delight isn’t a sin. And the ghosts in my head who say that it is can bite me.