Relax, Reflect, Recharge

There’s a Lady at the Gym Who Hates Me

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

There’s a lady at my gym who hates me.

No, I’m serious. She sees me coming, and I can feel little poofs of disdain chugging out of her ears as her feet churn at 87 mph on the elliptical machine. I honestly don’t know how she goes so fast. I once tried to keep up with her.

It was awful.

And I think that was the day her infuriation with me began.

Let me back up and confess my sins that started this whole thing.

The elliptical machines are very close together and completely awkward with their angular moving parts. Think if a New York high-rise and an elephant had a baby … that would be these elliptical machines.

Now, conjure up a picture in your mind of the most athletic person you know. The one who doesn’t have a drop of fat on her entire body, not even at her belly button, which should be illegal in my cellulite-ridden opinion. OK, do you have your person?

That’s her. She’s honestly stunningly beautiful.

Then picture a marshmallow dressed in a T-shirt and spandex pants. Her ponytail is rather tight, but not much else is. That’s me. Hello, world.

So, I had to sort of get in her space just a tad to mount my machine, and I think I threw off her rhythm. That was sin number one.

Then I decided to try to stay in sync with her because I wanted to teach all the folks at the gym that, though my legs and derrière might not look like it, I’m in shape. That was sin number two.

And then there may have been a little issue with me taking a phone call while working out. In my defense this is not at all my common practice. But a friend called who really needed me.

I tried to chat quietly, but when you feel like a lung might very well pop out of your mouth at any minute, it’s difficult to whisper-talk. Sin number three.

Three strikes, and she deemed me out. Out of my mind. Out-of-line. Out-of-control.

She abandoned her elliptical and huffed over to the treadmill. And I think she’s hated me ever since. But then the other day, something occurred. Something odd that stunned me.

She smiled at me.

It wasn’t an evil, I’m-about-to-whip-your-tail-on-the-gym-floor kind of smile. It was more like an, “Oh hey, I’ve seen you here before, right?” kind of smile.

And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized her hating me has all been a perception thing on my part.

Which got me thinking about all the many times I assign thoughts to others that they never actually think. I hold them accountable to harsh judgments they never make. And I own a rejection from them they never gave me.

I know not every rejection is like this. Some are completely certified and undeniable.

But we have to know there are also perceived rejections, like I had with my fellow gym-goer.

I don’t even think I was really on her radar.

But in my mind, I was absolutely in her crosshairs. And so goes the crazy inside our heads sometimes.

Thankfully, the Lord reminds us in our key verse that He is able to “quiet” our crazy thoughts with His love.

It makes me remember something I saw an author friend of mine do several years ago when she was signing a book. Her approach was simple. Before signing her name she wrote, “Live loved.”

Not only an instruction, but a proclamation. One that arrests my soul and is so applicable to our discussion at hand.

Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love.

It’s not deciding in your mind, I deserve to be loved. Or manipulating your heart to feel loved.

It’s settling in your soul, I was created by a God who formed me because He so very much loved the very thought of me. When I was nothing, He saw something and declared it good. Very good. And very loved.

This should be the genesis thought of every new day.

I am loved.

Not because of how terrific I am. God doesn’t base His affection on my wilted efforts.

No, God’s love isn’t based on me.

It’s simply placed on me.

And it’s the place from which I should live … loved.

Thank you Lysa TerKeurst for today’s message.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Finding Perfect Love 

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

My kids are both sweet and sour on a regular basis… as are all of us. Depends on the minute. Depends on the day. Every once in a happy while, however, one of my children surprises me with an unexpectedly sweet moment that becomes a heart treasure.

I had one of those special conversations many moons ago with my middle child Hunter when he was just nine years old. It was bedtime. Teeth were brushed. Jammies were on. Prayers had been prayed. The smell of shampoo lingered from his freshly showered head. As I brushed a stray hair from his eye, the sweet conversation began with an innocent question…
“Mommy, do you know what I love?”

“What do you love, Hunter?” I whispered.

“I love being loved,” he said thoughtfully. “Yep. I really love being loved.”

Lying beside him in the dark room, I could scarcely process the vastness of his statement. It was the simplest of thoughts, delightfully honest, yet one of the most profound and insightful statements I’d ever heard come from his lips – from his heart.

When he spoke those four little words, “I love being loved,” I heard several things:

  • He had a deep longing to be loved.
  • He knew he was loved.
  • His love tank was being re-filled as I tucked him in.
  • His greatest need is love.

Like Hunter, my greatest longing and need is also to be loved… to feel safe, adored, and content in love.

I don’t know where this devotion finds you today, but I sense God nudging me to tell you that He loves you. Completely. Perfectly. Eternally. (Yes, I’m talking to you!) He knows your name, He knows your heart, He knows your circumstances, and He hears your prayers. He loves you and desires for you to rest in His love. God’s Word says so.

You. Are. Perfectly. Loved.

God’s love is not based on performance or beauty. It’s not based on your position or abilities. Many times we mistakenly think that if we could just do this or that better – that God would love us more. That if we just hadn’t done this or that – God could love us more. The truth is this: God will never love you more or less…no matter what. His love is complete and you are the object of His heart’s affection.

But don’t take my word for it – take His! The Bible tells us that God’s love for us is unstoppable, unsearchable and unbreakable: …that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

No matter what you’ve believed in the past, choose by faith to believe this now: you are valued, priceless, and adored by God. “Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God”(Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.(Zephaniah 3:17)

Let those words sink in. Savor the special sweetness of God’s love for you today. Take it very personally. Linger long on thoughts of His affection for you. Let them find and fill your heart in wounded places.

When you embrace the deep love of Christ as a personal reality, you will gain traction for powerful, meaningful living that begins with forgiveness and continues on in truth and grace. Go in His love today. Be assured of it. Share it. Be changed by it. Love Him back. Change others with it.

Thank you Girlfriends in God and Gwen Smith for today’s inspiring words.