Monday, January 20, 2014

Hope....Faith....Courage: The keys to successfully changing our life!


I’m not sure how I came across this quote, but it certainly provided me with a lot of food for thought this morning. I’ve heard and used those words, Faith…Hope…Courage…multiple times in my life. These same words have been even more meaningful to me on my journey to better health and mobility, but I’ve never really thought much about them until I saw this quote.

Hope is wishing something would happen.
Faith is believing something will happen.
Courage is making something happen.

As I reflect on my journey these past few years, I can certainly see that Faith, Hope, and Courage played a significant role. Many times in life, we put our hope and our faith in things that we cannot control and then when things don’t turn out, we become disappointed and lose trust in ourselves and others. For example….we cannot control ‘things” like weather and time. We might say, “ I hope the sun shines for our picnic.” We might even involve God and say things like, “I claim a sunny day…or I have faith that God will make the sun shine,” but even if it rains, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist or that He didn’t hear our prayer. It simply means that the sky was full of moisture and the clouds couldn’t contain it anymore. It has nothing to do with whether or not God loves us or hears our prayers. We simply cannot control the weather.

Sometimes our hope involves other people. “I hope that he changes his behavior and stops hurting me.” “I hope the new guy at work likes me.” “I hope that the Tigers win the World Series next year.” Certainly we can “Hope” or wish that things were different; that people were different; that the weather was favorable; that we win the lottery……whatever, but ultimately, we cannot do anything to make those things happen. All we can do is control ourselves….make ourselves as likeable as possible; set expectations for how we want to be treated; be prepared for whatever happens and whatever the weather may be.

Faith is similar. As the quote says, “Faith is believing that something will happen.” I am a woman of faith, but I’ve learned over the years that misplaced faith leads to heartache and disappointment. So many times I was sure that something would happen, that life would be different, that I’d have the perfect job, that I’d make a home with the perfect man, that I’d one day wake up and discover that I had the body of Bo Derek. (stop laughing! ) Over the years, through many heartaches and trials, I’ve learned that FAITH in anything or anyone other than God is misplaced. Over and over again throughout my life….even in the hardest times of grief and sadness….even when I wanted to just give up and die…..even when I found it difficult to even get up in the morning…..I have learned that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS….God will never leave me and He will always give me what I need to deal with whatever comes my way. These days I don’t have “faith or believe” that I’m going to win the lottery, that I’ll become a millionaire, or become president of the United States, but I have faith that God can do…and will do… great things in my life, if I surrender and trust and DO MY PART!

In terms of my weight loss, I can see where Faith, Hope, and Courage were significant. It wasn’t until all three of these things came together that I was able to begin to change. I used to say, “ I hope that I lose weight someday.” “I hope that I can pass my classes in college.” “I hope I get the job I applied for.” Hope is the first step, but if we sit there with a bag of chips in our laps, never open up a text book or study, or fill out a job application, hope is futile. If we didn’t hope and wish that things were different, we’d never do something to help us reach our fullest potential.

Next comes faith. I could have HOPED for the rest of my life that I would lose weight, but until I had truly had FAITH and believed that not only COULD it happen but that it WOULD happen; that I could do it, not on my own, but with God’s grace, nothing would have happened. This step…BELIEVING…that things can change…is the hardest step because it involves the most trust, both in ourselves, our ability, our potential, and in a higher power that we may or may not have a loving relationship with. If you have been disappointed over and over again in life; if you feel that God has let you down in the past or dealt you a losing hand, then it will be hard to put your trust in Him. If you’ve tried repeatedly to lose weight, quit smoking or drinking, or commit to a plan of exercise, then it will be hard to believe that THIS TIME will be different. You need to work through it. You need to let those past failures go. You need to realize that you cannot do anything alone, but with God, you can do all things! If you trust Him….if you surrender your will…if you admit your powerlessness….you CAN AND YOU WILL….change your life. It all begins in your mind, though, and then your body cooperates. You must believe that it will happen, even when you don’t see progress…even when you give in to temptation….even when you, GASP….gain a pound or two (or more). When you truly believe…when you have faith in your partnership with God….then you will be strong and you will succeed.

Finally, comes COURAGE…..MAKING it happen. You can hope all you want. You can believe all you want, but until you let go of the fear of failing, of giving up, of hard work, and do SOMETHING…. then NOTHING will happen. I used to be consumed by fear; it controlled my thoughts. I was afraid of dying alone; I was afraid of losing my home because I couldn’t pay the bills and because we had an arsonist living in my neighborhood; I was afraid of losing my independence (heck, I couldn’t walk or stand up as it were) and having to move into a nursing home; I was afraid of being alone because I had pushed everyone away; and I was afraid to trust or love because I could not bear to lose another person to death. Mostly I was afraid of failing….at school….at work….and in my weight loss journey (that’s why I didn’t tell anyone I was trying to lose weight for several weeks.) Finding the courage to even TRY….was the hardest part of this journey. Being willing to say that it was ok if I faltered and realizing that nothing was ever going to change if I didn’t make an attempt, was a turning point.

None of these things….hope, faith, and courage….come easy, and none of us will ever practice them perfectly. I struggle daily with them, especially when I’m weary. In times of weakness, I doubt that I will be able to continue this journey. I lose faith in my OWN ability and forget that I cannot do ANYTHING alone. I fear that I will slip; that I will gain weight; that I will disappoint myself and others. Don’t think that even after you lose weight or successfully give up a habit that it will become easy. It doesn’t. It’s a daily choice. Just like yours. Every day I must continue to hope….and pray….and be grateful…..and have the faith and courage to keep going. You all help me do that, in much the same way that I hope that I help you.
So…today….wherever you are in your thinking….remember this…..if you haven’t yet come to the point of having hope, faith, or courage for yourself…. I have it for you.

This is my sincere wish for all of you:

I HOPE that things will be different and better for those of you that are hurting, sad, or struggling in any way, and desire to make a change.

I have FAITH that if you cooperate with your higher power and put for the effort, that things CAN and WILL change.

And I make the sincere promise that I will do anything I can to support you….to encourage you….to inspire you… help you find the COURAGE to make it happen!
None of us are ever alone on this journey.