It’s a lazy winter afternoon. Snow continues to blanket the ground outside. I’ve taken a break from writing to give my brain a vacation hoping it soon engages again. I’m not thinking about over-the-top dreams. I’m thinking about relaxing after a morning of writing.
I’m reading The Moon in the Mango Tree about a classical musician married to a doctor who decides to become a missionary in the jungles of Siam. It’s set in the 1920’s when communication and travel were archaic at best.
I’ve moved to my comfy reading chair, leg cocked over the arm of the recliner. For some reason my mind goes back to college when I was a missions volunteer. I had wanted to share the gospel with exotic people like those in the book I’m reading.
I went through college, partially on a missions scholarship. After college, I landed a job at the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. While there I made application for a two-year missions program for recent college graduates called journeymen. I thought that would be my over-the-top dream.
No one knows I was turned down because I told no one I even applied. I knew they had a weight limit. I just thought they might waive it for me. I was more than 20% over normal weight and apparently they were, at least at that time, very specific about the health requirement.
Funny how certain things hit you at the oddest moments. I sit here trying to recall my weight back then. It had to be more than 180 to not qualify. I remember it was at least 30% over so that means I was at least 195, nearing the 200 mark.
I remember wearing a size 18 jeans. I look at my leg thrown casually over the arm of the chair. All of a sudden it hits me. This morning, I felt the Lord tell me to put on some jeans I had bought, but not worn yet. (God never tells me what to wear, so I couldn’t be sure it was Him.) I looked at the size and silently argued a bit before trying them on and finding they fit.
They are a size 12. Yes, I’m wearing size 12 jeans! I don’t ever remember wearing this size even in my high school days and especially not in my college and post-college days. This is truly an over-the-top dream. And I believe it was God who encouraged me to wear them or I would have never known I could.
At age 60, I’m in better health than when I was in my 20s for even then I felt the difficulties of eating unbalanced sugar and bread ladened meals. I preferred the “comfort” foods and pushed everything else aside.
I think about those choices and what they did to me through the years and all the dreams they held me back from. I think about the residual effects I feel from those choices even today, for departing from God’s best does leave consequences. However, that I am even alive today is a testament to the love and patience of a merciful God who never ceased to remind me of what it would take to live … really live.
I cry tears of joy realizing I may not have arrived at where I want to be, but I am so grateful to have cooperated with God to change the trajectory of my journey to head towards health.
God wants me saved: body, soul and spirit. I knew that, but the full impact didn’t really hit me until about 10 years ago. I did know I was totally out of balance, lop-sided actually.
I had this huge amount of spiritual knowledge and substantial amount of soul knowledge, but almost no body knowledge. I grew up in the church. I was taught to build up my spirit and soul and my body would follow suit. I must subjugate my body and deny fleshly desires. Of course, food was one desire that was all right to indulge in because I had to eat.
There is a difference between disregarding and denying my body, but at the time, I was doing neither where intake of food was concerned.
I did realize I was a triune being: body, soul and spirit. I knew my body was supposed to be the temple of God. I often wondered why He didn’t take me to court for not keeping His house in order. After all, I am supposed to be the landlord.
Twenty years ago, I was asked what I wanted and what kind of person could have what I wanted. What I wanted was to write books that make a difference.
At 430 pounds, my physical health was deplorable. I was super morbidly obese, had high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, diabetes, bad knees and could barely walk.
I knew to live my dream, the first thing I had to do was get my life in balance. I declared I wanted to be a whole, healthy, happy woman. God knew I was none of those. It was a prophetic statement of sorts.
It’s been a journey of ups and downs, but today I can say I’m all three of those or at least closer than I’ve ever been before in my life. Isn’t it interesting that my dream of writing books would start with chronicling the very weight issue that was holding me back from accomplishing the dream.
Who but God could work that one out?
I feel like I’m living my over-the-top dream now, but I know there’s more to come. I feel it in my spirit, soul and body. I know I’ll fit into size 10 jeans. I know I’ll write more books and I know I’ll experience more of God’s intimate presence.
Even those things I can imagine don’t come close to what God says He has in store for me.
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around, but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us,” Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG.
I can’t wait to see what He defines as an over-the-top dream. Can you? What might that look like for you?
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.