Destination vs. the Journey

I used to be concerned only with being at the destination (I wanted to be lean and fit). Understanding the journey is more important than being at the destination  because on the journey I learned to drive this wild operation I call my body so when I get to where I want to be, I can stay there.  I can also change where I want to be and drive there.  On my journey I learned to use the tools of eating and exercise to carve my body the way I want it. I feel if I could put my mind in another fat body I could drive it toward fitness.

The only way to understand the journey is to do it, you can study nutrition and exercise but success depends on practical knowledge, not head knowledge. I wanted to be fit, now I know how to get fit which is more valuable than fitness itself.

Another way to think about this is; Which is more valuable being given a million dollars, or having the financial skills and discipline to earn and save a million dollars over a period of years? I would assert that having the skills is more valuable because through the process of earning and saving you have become responsible and the money will probably stay there or be used wisely. If the million dollars was an instant easy gift the money will probably soon be gone.

I believe this is what happens to many people who go on "diets", they go through a terrible period where they are miserable and end up at somewhere near their destination.  The problem is the weird eating plan they have been on is not sustainable so they go back to their previous lifestyle and guess what happens.

My Journey or physical transformation affected all areas of my life; obviously there were dramatic physical changes that were apparent to everyone around me. The Physical changes were driven by less tangible mental attitude changes. The mindset changes were linked to the spiritual aspect of my life, there were spiritual lessons I had learned that were applied to my physical transformation, and lessons learned from my physical transformation that I applied to my spiritual life. If you are successful in one area of you life use those principles and that confidence to build and strengthen other areas of your life as well.

When I was young I was a disciple of "If it feels good, do it", I tried to find fun and freedom in many of the ways that seemed to offer fun: drinking, smoking, drug use and other vices. I found that although these things were fun for a while they ended up being my master. I was drinking way to much, I smoked about 3 packs of cigarettes a day, basically I did everything to excess and I was pretty disappointed and miserable with my life situation. It was during this time period in my early 20's that I looked at my life situation and realized I needed a change in overall direction. I evaluated my options and looked at what worked for people around me and decided that some of the Christians I saw around me had more going on than anyone else I knew. I began to study the Bible and follow Christ and began the biggest transformation of my life (my physical transformation comes in second). Slowly, with some battles I was able to walk away from the indulgences I had become enslaved to, pretty much in reverse order of how I had picked them up. The drugs went first, then the excessive drinking, smoking took even longer but I had been playing around with smoking since I was 13. One master, which I could not seem to overcome was eating whatever to please my mouth and my stomach, I had really wrestled with this my whole life. I believe that when I finally quit smoking I began eating even more. The one thing that was so difficult about controlling my eating was that other destructive habits I could just quit, I couldn't just quit eating (although I tried several times) I needed to continue eating but I could not get it under control.

"Everything is permissible for me"- but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me" - but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12) NIV

One of my "deals with God" was praying for him to just miraculously transform me into excellent physical condition, and I would give him all the credit! (This was similar to my win the lottery prayers) What I have realized during this last year is that I was focused on the destination not the process or the journey. I just wanted to be thin and fit and I believe God had things he wanted to teach me through the process. Two of the "fruits of the spirit" listed in the Bible are patience and self-control, these fruits do not just appear, they require knowing them from experience. The last year has been a great growing opportunity in learning patience and self-control. I understood early on that patience was a real key to success in physical transformation. I wanted changes overnight or quicker. I discovered that patience is not just waiting, it is being diligent at doing the right things and waiting. When you are diligently doing the right things you want to be in control, and you expect to see the desired results. I found that doing the right things eventually produced the desired results but not on my time schedule. I also realized there were other positive results happening that I had not considered or expected. Where you are at is not as important as the direction you are going. If you are going the right direction, time is on your side and with patience you will see the desired results.

The other fruit of the spirit that I learned about was self-control. This lesson was dramatically different than what I expected. I expected this transformation period to be a horrible year or two of denying my wants and suffering with hunger, not being able to enjoy the things I wanted. That is not the self-control that I learned, my self-control looked much more like persistently sticking to a plan than denying what I wanted. The difference is that I was not saying no, no, no, no, no to the choices that I had every day, I was saying to myself "This is what I'm going to do, exercise now, eat this then, eat that later in the day, then walk the dogs if I have time". I plan what I will do for exercise and eating, then execute that plan (with flexibility). I will definitely admit that there were times I needed to say no to tempting choices and that is part of self-control, but I found that I would get into trouble when I was focused on what I was saying no to, and not focused on what the next things were I would be saying yes to.

Patience and self-control are spiritual areas that my journey helped me to understand much more clearly and I feel confident there will be other times in my life where I will be able to apply these principles. The next area I wanted to cover are previous lessons I had learned that were valuable on the Journey. One strength or asset I brought to the journey from previous experience is a good amount of determination which I would define as being unable to give up. The journey definitely sharpened and refined this area of my life but I can be pretty dog gone focused when I get my mind made up. I have learned determination through persistence in school (when I wanted to quit), marriage (when I wanted to quit), work, parenting, sports, but probably nowhere more than my relationship with God. There were many times in my Christian walk that I have blown it so badly, done the wrong things and just felt like I can't go back to God and ask him to forgive me again. The dilemma that I would find myself in would then be "Where else can I go?, What other direction is there?" I would realize there was only one answer for me and that was to pick up the pieces of whatever mess I had made and go to God and others and make it right. I found myself in similar situations on my journey, there would be times when I would break my rules, not do something I planned or eat something I shouldn't and for a moment feel like throwing in the towel. I found myself in the same dilemma "where else is there to go", from my experience the only answer was nowhere else. I would pick up the pieces get back on my plan and try to learn from the mistake, sometimes modifying the plan, sometimes I would just execute the same plan a little more persistently. The key point here is I decided what I was going to do, then did it. I was flexible and open to learning and changing my plan but not minute by minute. By using failures in this way I improved my plan and was not defeated.

As a Christian I realize this body is temporary and investing the time and attention toward it may seam wasteful to some people. While I believe this body is temporary I believe the time invested in it is well spent. We are responsible to be good stewards of everything that God has given us including our bodies. Our bodies are not all the same and do not have the same potential but our job is to take the best care of them we can. There are many folks doing what I used to do, abusing their bodies by stuffing their mouths with what will give their mouth and stomach pleasure and forcing their body to deal with what it is sent instead of thinking about what their body needs. We need to give our bodies the right kinds and quantity of fuel and provide our bodies with sufficient exercise.

Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God because he owns it."
(1 Corinthians 6:19,20) LB

One more note before we leave the subject of the spiritual aspect of my Journey, I mentioned my prayer for instant transformation and there were many other prayers over the years asking God to perform a change in me, why did it take so long? I am not sure at this point, but in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due I must mention this. A month or so before I began my journey I was studying a short book named "The Prayer of Jabez" by Bruce Wilkinson and I was earnestly praying this prayer over and over:

Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain! So God granted him what he requested. (1Chronicles 4:10 NKJV)

I don't recall ever in my life praying for my personal blessing, but a thought that has gone through my mind many times, this would be like God, to take my greatest weakness and turn it into an opportunity to show his strength.

I mentioned on other pages of this site the affects my excess weight and fat had on my energy level and the depression I felt mentally about my life in general. This depression also affected my spiritual life and I felt I had a very low potential to be effective in what God wanted me to be doing. The success I have achieved in my physical life has certainly overflowed into the other areas of my life giving me a much more positive mental attitude about life in general, work and family. I also feel energized in my spiritual relationships with God and others and feel more plugged into God's plan for my life. The picture on the left is me leading worship with the 4&5 year olds at my church.