I was 19 and 194 pounds, not exactly the goal of teenager unless you’re a guy trying out for a spot on the defensive line of a football team. I knew I needed to watch what I ate and do something about my weight and exercise. I knew I wasn’t healthy and I felt trapped in my own body. Like my soul and the person I knew I was inside was not reflected on the outside.
For as long as I could remember, I used food to cope with life. If I was happy, I ate. Scared, I ate. Bored, I ate. And I didn’t want to give that up. I couldn’t give it up.
By the time I got to my sophomore year of college, something had to be done. I was so frustrated with being frustrated. I was barely squeezing into size 14 jeans and XL shirts. Yet, as frustrated as I was, I didn’t know where to start.
In life, so many times, my stubbornness and my will get in my own way. So many times, I don’t want to surrender, give something up, let someone go, or do what I feel like God is asking me to do.
Joe Zickafoose was my pastor in college. He was one of a kind. He had such a passion for helping young people navigate life. When he found something funny, you couldn’t help but to laugh along with him. He taught me so many little nuggets that still echo in my head today, but I’ve returned to one prayer he taught me many times over the years.
“Lord, I’m willing to be made willing.”
The first willing to be made willing prayer I ever prayed was about food and my unhealthy relationship with it. Shortly after, I was home in North Dakota on winter break from college. It was -30 degrees with the windchill. I put on long johns, insulated pants, three shirts, a double-lined Columbia jacket, two pair of socks, an ear warmer, neck warmer, and gloves. I put my hood up and ventured out for a run through a nearby park.
For two miles, I kept a run one minute, walk four rhythm. I felt good and nothing was frozen by the time I returned home. So, I got up the next day and did it again. And there, in that cold tundra, my love of running was born. It was the first step on a journey to being healthy that continues for me today.
The strongholds still show their strength. My will and stubbornness still fight what I know is better, what my soul strives for. And when I find myself stuck, I begin with being willing to be made willing.
And then I go for a run, regardless of the ice cream truck.
Maybe for you, a run or Joe’s prayer could be helpful. I hope you use them when you need them.
PS. The pictures from this post are all from my runs over the last few years, including the unintentional selfie that I accidentally took while shoving my phone into a baggie while running in the rain on the beach.