Horses are amazing creatures. I have been blessed to get to live my childhood dream of having a horse–four times over. While I hope to find a good home for one or two of my horses, I love them deeply and God uses them to teach me things I might otherwise miss.

This week has been a bit rough. My special boy, Harley (pictured here), has been “colicky.” For non-horse people when a horse is “colicky” it is different than it is with humans. It doesn’t just mean uncomfortable and with a need to pass gas. It can be symptomatic of something going on in the gut that will cost the horse his life. Harley hasn’t been eating much or digesting the food that he has been eating–he hasn’t been drinking and could be dehydrated. He could end up with an impaction in his intestines. A horse’s intestines can get twisted so easily…and before you know it, they can die.

It is odd really. Horses are used to convey images of strength, freedom, grace, power. Yet rather than being robust creatures, they are “frail” in some ways. They have specific nutritional needs, for instance. Even the way their hooves function–with tender, delicate tissue holding the hoof capsule and foot together–a connection that can be broken down with something as simple as too much sugar (grazing on spring grass, for instance)–betrays such tender balance between power and frailty.

As I have been on 24-hour alert for Harley this week, God has been whispering a deeper truth to my heart.

Lately, with the chaos in my life, I have grasped for control–of something, of anything. When things have “gone wonky” in the past, I have resorted to over-eating. Life is wonkier than it has been in my entire adult life and I am not turning to food to get me through. But instead, I have resorted to exercise. This may not sound “bad” or “wrong,” but I am a former exercise-a-holic. This is the first time I have returned to regular, rigorous exercise since my former obsession years ago. I have hesitated to do so…for the very reasons that I are now smack in my face. I tend to focus on the veneer–the strength, the “thin-ness,”–the things that are “good.” :-/ For three months now, I have been diligently, daily (even during my Disneyland trip) doing my “Turbofire” workouts.

This may sound so good…but don’t be betrayed by the veneer. Beneath the surface is weakness…fear…all the things that made me want not to return to this kind of exercise. Now I am hooked all over again. Freedom that I had is gone. I feel like an alcoholic who has fallen off the wagon! ๐Ÿ™ While I appreciate the strengthening of my physical body, it isn’t worth the weakening of my spirit. I may appear “strong” on the outside, but I feel that, like horse, it wouldn’t take much for my “gut to get twisted” and to die. Emotionally and spiritually, I have died inside a bit with the emergence of this new physical strength and the compromises that have led to it.

Thing is…I don’t want to stop. I want to maintain the physical changes. In fact, I want more physical changes. :-/ I just want to be able to have my cake and eat it, too.  I want to be really fit without my heart and mind being in spiritual and emotional bondage. Truth is, I am so incredibly weak emotionally.  My biceps and abs may be stronger, leaner, firmer–they are only the veneer right now. Like Harley when he hasn’t been eating right and drinking, the strength of my heart and mind have been compromised–they are weaker.

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wivesโ€™ tales; 
rather, train yourself to be godly. 
For physical training is of some value, 
but godliness has value for all things, 
holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  
– 1 Timothy 4:7,8

When I exercise, I get a false sense of control. I also enjoy the rush of endorphins which combats the melancholy that is biting at my heels. Exercise (firming muscle that is there) combined with imperfectly continuing to follow Thin Within principles has brought me back down to the size I was when I released all my weight previously with Thin Within (the Fall/Winter 2007). I don’t have a scale and I don’t know or care how much I weigh. I just pulled out my clothes from 2007 and am wearing them comfortably.

If I focus on size and appearance and functional strength, I can enjoy life a lot now in a way I couldn’t before. I am fitter than I have been since my marathoning days. My husband seems pleased. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I really LIKE being able to do things I can’t when I am not fit. Being thin isn’t being fit. I love sports and activities and my life is rather active. The working out I am doing is making it possible for me to do the things I enjoy more effectively.

At the same time, though, I am disappointed that I have been duped, that I have given in, compromised, allowed a worldly, fleshly mindset to take command.

And isn’t that what we do? We tend to focus on the externals–people may be fit and thin and “gorgeous,” but what it took/takes to get and stay there…may cost them so much more than what they get out of it.

I am hoping to find a place of moderation, that happy “both” place. I know that many people can be fit and exercise and not have it be a functional savior…that is my desire and my quest.

How about you? Do you have a veneer of strength? Is there a weakness beneath that veneer? What does the Lord call you to do about it?