Friday, October 09, 2015

Exploring the Bike Paths of my Soul

(Random thoughts for Sunday's Contemplative Service)

4 years ago I decided to do something about my weight. Over the course of the next few years, I joined a gym, dieted and exercised regularly, and lost about 50 lbs. I gave away all my large clothes and bought a new wardrobe.

Then I got an injury.

Then 'life' happened.

I love to cook and bake, and I'm also an emotional eater. I managed to find lots of reasons to justify not going to the gym and eating another cookie. Slowly my weight crept up again. I justified the weight gain by claiming it wasn't interfering with my life. My wardrobe slowly became too tight and I had to purchase 'fat' clothes again. I knew I needed to do something, but I wasn't ready, there was always a reason why exercise and eating right would begin again next week.

This summer I was on vacation with my family in Germany and one day they decided that we would all bike around this lake. Everyone rented bikes except me. I rented an electric bike instead, I still had to pedal, but it gave me a motorized assist when I went up hills. It was fun to glide past the rest of my family, but I must confess I felt some guilt that my older brother (who used to struggle with his weight) could bike around the lake when I could not.

And so just over a month ago, I walked back in my gym and signed up for the same diet and weight loss competition that I entered 4 years ago. Last time going to the gym was all new, even the restrictions of the diet didn't bother me that much, but I didn't do much interior work around my relationship with food.

This time I've tried to do things differently. I've tried to examine why I eat the way I do. I've tried to be more contemplative about diet and exercise.....and I've been out on my bike.

In the Heights there are miles of bike paths that I have never explored. Some lead into parts of Houston that I must confess have made me a bit nervous. I've seen piles of garbage and abandoned junk, and I've watched squirrels dance across my path. I've cycled my way through construction zones under freeways, and I've encountered beautiful views of Houston that I never knew existed. I've gotten frustrated by paths that dead end into culverts that block my way home, and I've seen new bridges that I never new existed.

And I've enjoyed myself in a way I never anticipated.

I'm also trying to navigate the bike paths of my soul. Learning that just because my body is claiming that it has not had enough to eat that it isn't actually hungry, it's just complaining that it is not eating to excess like it used to. That the hungry feeling is good because it means my body is consuming stored fat. I'm learning that there is no such thing as bad food, just bad portion control, and that emotions can be felt rather than eaten. The bike trails in my soul have led me to piles of garbage and abandoned junk. Through construction zones and dead ends I'm wandering, and uncovering beauty in parts of myself where I rarely venture. I"m learning that sometimes what feels like God leaving, is in reality God leading. That hunger and fatigue are opportunities to encounter God differently. That old familiar paths and problems can be approached in new ways, and I might surprise myself in ways I never anticipated.