This morning my heart was unsettled and anxious. I think it was because I felt my work building up and I didn’t get an exercise session in yesterday. I had missed two of the Garmin Challenges (500m swim – day 7 and a 6km run – day 9) which I was determined to catch up on, as well as the 15,000 steps which was today’s (day 10) challenge. I was tired as Finn (who is now 5 months old) was up every hour last night and yesterday I drove for almost 8 hours including 6 stops with Finn (a trip that should usually take no more than 5 hours with stops). I’m away with family so also have that competing with how I want to spend my time too. However, the main thing causing anxiety was the lack of exercise – how could I fail at this simple challenge I had told myself I would do daily!? I’m learning completing challenges like this can prove extra challenging with a baby.
After spending some time with the family this morning, I tried to get into some work but instead found myself getting into a packet of biscuits in the cupboard. I realised I do this when I am looking for enjoyment and want quick comfort. I groaned that again I was trying to find my satisfaction in sugary foods, which satisfy me for all of about two minutes. I needed retune my heart to find joy in God, the only thing that leaves me with lasting joy, otherwise I would continue to eat junk and be anything but productive in getting work done.
So I sat down and opened a devotion which focused on 1 Peter 3:3-4:
“3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
Inner beauty is more important that outer beauty
Isn’t it amazing how God speaks to us with just what we need to hear when we open his word? He reminded me that inner beauty is to be valued above outer appearance. This doesn’t mean don’t care at all about how you look, but just keep it in perspective, it’s not the MOST important thing. It reminded me of this verse:
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
– 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)
I meditated on this thought and realised the hard truth that my anxieties were rooted in trying to live with my outer beauty as my main priority. I was trying to fill my inner beauty with what I thought would leave me ‘feeling good’ about myself – being fit and completing the Garmin challenge like a weapon (and let’s be honest – the good body that comes along with that). I was fearful of the judgment of failing at this too.
If I was valuing inner beauty more, then I probably would have spent more time seeking out the gentle and quiet spirit (a peaceful, unflustered and serene heart) that verse 4 says is ‘so precious to God’, but instead I was spending most of my time thinking about how I would exercise and what food I would eat. I also probably would have sat down to spend time with God with an attitude of excitement and thankfulness for the privilege of speaking to my creator as a disobedient sinner…rather than having a grumbling heart with an approach of ‘nothing else is working, I better give this a go’. When will I learn that trying to do things by my own strength will never give me lasting peace and freedom?
Thankfully I have a patient and loving God who will continue to come along side me and guide when I give him the time. He speaks when I listen. Now my heart feels full and worry-free and my mind & priorities are focused. I think I will get ten times as much done now. It’s proof that when you prioritise your concerns as God does (ie. inner beauty first), you’re freed up to then enjoy working on your outer beauty (which God also delights in) with flexibility in your approach. Remind me of this when I lose my way friends!