This past weekend, I cleaned my closet. Now, I know, that sounds like something uneventful. Perhaps for some, but not for me. It took me a total of 8 hours to clean the closet. I went through every article of clothing, every purse, every item hiding in the closet until I had purged it fully. I left no stone (or item) unturned in that closet. And, in the midst of my 8 hour cleaning spree, I had a revelation.
I realized that I had been allowing others to define things for me, without defining them for myself. Take my closet, for example. It was full of clothes that were given to me by other people, or things others thought looked cute on me but I had never really been quite sure. In my closet were items I was holding onto for nostalgia sake, and waaaay too many t-shirts. I had several “I’m going to fit into these again one day” dresses, suits, etc. And as I kept working, I wondered where the clothes were that expressed who Rasheeda really is.
Well, 8 hours later, the results were in. Here were the clothes that represented me
And this is all that I purged, or rather, donated to Goodwill:
Now, this may all seem silly to you, but it was a pretty significant moment for me. I’ve been going through a lot of growth and changes this year, and particularly in the recent months. I took everything over to Goodwill immediately (well, the next day), because I didn’t want to change my mind on anything. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take some time to figure out what I like, what I really like, and rebuild my closet with those things.
For me, it really was my closet that needed the purging. But for someone else, it could be anything: your career, your spiritual life, your love life. Take some time, hours, days, whatever it takes, to do a very thorough inventory, clean out the things that you need to, and purge them for your life. The “closet” may seem empty, but that emptiness can be the most fulfilling emotion you’ll ever experience.
Whenever something happens that bothers me, my husband always reminds me that it is all about perspective. Now, admittedly, this usually just irritates me, but not because I think there’s wisdom in what he says. In fact, I do. But usually, at that moment, I want to wallow in whatever is bothering me. It just so happens that my wise husband doesn’t really allow me to do that. Go figure :-).
He does make a good point, though. When things don’t go your way, how do you look at it? Is it a learning opportunity, or just something else to upset you? And if it’s the latter, are you missing the lesson? We had a situation occur over the weekend that really upset me. I had an unintentional emotional reaction, in spite of my best efforts to hold it in. But once I got that out of my system, I took a moment to step back and look. The situation, frustrating though it may be, was simply a challenge. From my perspective, it was the physical manifestation of a spiritual attack. So, taking that into account, I did the one thing I know to do in spiritual matters: I prayed. I prayed for the situation, I prayed for those involved and I prayed for myself.
There was a time where a situation like that would have shook me for days. It would have left me in a funk. But, as I’ve learned, it is all about perspective. I can’t change what happened, but I can change (and control) my reaction to it. There are things that take place every day that frustrate you. You can wallow in it, holding on to the past, or you can change your perspective. Identify what lesson or opportunity you may take from the situation. Alter your perspective, I guarantee it will alter more than just your thoughts, but also your attitude, your behavior, and possibly even the outcome of the situation.
We all make choices in life. We choose what time to wake up in the morning; we choose what to wear every day. We choose what to eat (or what not to eat). In this day of social media, we choose who to friend on Facebook, and who to follow on Twitter. So often, we do these things without thinking through the impact of our decisions. Yet, the choices we make have long lasting effects.
For several years, and particularly the past couple years, I’ve had quite a struggle with my weight. Nobody would look at me and think I weigh what I do. In fact, a couple weeks ago, I went to a new primary care physician. After going through my medical history, she looked at my chart and said, “This can’t be right. Is this you?” She didn’t believe the weight that was written on the chart, and then said, “You carry it well.” Of course I did the obligatory, “thank you,” and her statement didn’t offend me. But at the end of the day, her comment reminded me that I have a long journey ahead.
I don’t really know how I got to this point. Well, I sort of know. I was the one that was always moving, going. Not necessarily working out, but moving too fast to stop and eat, which usually ended with me getting sick at some point. In law school, I don’t think I weighed myself even one time. In the summer after I graduated, I worked out 5 days a week, cooked and ate very balanced meals, not because I was trying to lose weight, but because I was trying to make sure I was in top mental shape for the bar exam, and that included physical and spiritual health, not just mental health and capacity. Imagine my surprise when I returned to Ann Arbor 9 months after graduation and was told, “Wow, you look great! What have you been doing?” I remember wondering, “Did I look that bad when I was here?”
When I returned home, I got on a scale and was completely shocked at what I saw. I had gained 30-40 pounds over a 3-year period, and somehow, didn’t even notice it. Even more, I knew that the scale reflected a number that was probably lower than it had been the year before.
You would think that I made a choice, at that point, to get all of the weight off. To keep doing what I had been doing. But that wasn’t the case. I chose not to do anything. Not consciously, but in hindsight, that’s exactly what I chose. And the results of that choice, I am still dealing with.
Fast-forward 6 years, after the loss of my son. I distinctly remember eating whatever I drove past: Popeye’s, McDonalds, Wendy’s, the list goes on. And then, it was conscious. I don’t feel like cooking, I don’t feel like doing anything, I’ll deal with this later. Later kept coming and going, and before I knew it, I was 210 pounds. How in the world did that happen? That spiraled me into lack of self-confidence, discouragement, and all around disappointment. Shucks, that’s a blog in and of itself.
Here I am today, still pushing, still fighting, still trying to find, not the right diet, but the right lifestyle change. I joined a boot camp 6 weeks ago, and LOVE it! It’s an intense workout, but it is well worth it. I push daily. I literally make choices when I eat, and I am more cognizant of it. If I eat this salad, what does that say I am choosing versus eating the Chick-Fil-A nuggets? Do I believe I deserve the best? If so, then I need to give myself the best. And, more importantly, as I seek to fulfill the purpose God has given me on this earth, I must give Him my best. After all, He gave me His best (John 3:16), so why wouldn’t I give Him my best?
We all have struggles and challenges, and we all make choices. My struggle is weight. That may not be your issue. Even so, there is something you face that you must address, that you must deal with and stop hiding from. Take a moment today to step back and think about the choices you make daily, often without thinking “too deeply” about them. Don’t go through life just being, and just doing. Choose to live intentionally.
“Give You My Best” is included with permission from the artist, TWyse.