I love Joel Osteen.
Not in that bible-thumping, get right with Jesus or burn in hell for all eternity kind of way but rather a damn he knows how to weave his words in such a way that you don’t have to go to church or be able to quote a particular verse in the bible in order to take away something from his t.v. show or podcast. When I run I like to have particular podcasts on my shuffle ready to go when music isn’t cutting it for me. It’s an eclectic collection: The Adam Corolla Show, Gay Pimpin with Johnny McGovern (for those really long runs), Latest in Paleo, Run Chat, and Savage Love (for when I miss Seattle)…
And then there’s Joel.
He’s my go-to guy when I’m out running for an hour or so. Each podcast lasting about 30 minutes he’s good for a nice 3 miles in one way and then another podcast for the 3 miles coming back. When I run and listen to something other than music I have to stay focused so that I can keep up with what’s being said. Music tends to come and go while I’m running, getting lost in the on going saga of “why do I run when I hate it so much but love it so much?” The other podcasts are good for a laugh or some quick tip on how to run better or maybe listening to some banter on the politics of paleo but with Joel I really have to listen. I have to get out of my running mind and my running body and open up to what I’m hearing. While his messages are biblical in nature I never have trouble applying them in my everyday (and very non-biblical) life.
As I ran early this morning he talked about letting go. Letting go of things you have no control over. Letting go of the past. Letting go of whatever keeps you from moving forward. When I was morbidly obese I wasn’t very good at letting go. In fact what I was very good at was wondering why my life was the way it was. Why was I the child of an alcoholic mother and non-existent father? Why did mental illness go undiagnosed in my family for so long? Why am I shoving food in my face to cover up depression? I was very good at thinking about the past and dwelling on it. I was very good staying stagnant because the pitty potty I was comfortably resting my ass on gave me a reason to just sit there and do nothing to take control of my life…
Over the course of not letting go I gained a lot of weight.
Over the course of wondering why me, I shoved a lot of food in my face.
Over the course of thinking I could never make the changes necessary to move forward I withdrew from my environment.
I closed the door on my life.
During the podcast today he said there’s a reason why the windshield of a car is so big and the rear view mirror is so small. What’s in front of you is much more important than what’s behind you. Now I’m sure he isn’t original in his thinking. I mean seriously the concept of what’s in front of you (windshield) is more important that what’s behind you (rear view) seems so simple someone else had to have said it first but it doesn’t take away how powerful that analogy is when on a journey to take the body that sat in the past and grew to morbid obesity into the future and letting go.
When I stopped thinking about the alcoholism in my childhood and what my mother didn’t do for me and started to understand that she did the best she could with the tools that were provided to her I began to move forward. When I stopped thinking about a father that had left me before my childhood even began and started to understand that I can’t miss what was never there I began to move forward. When I stopped blaming myself for choices made, addictions battled and wishing for another chance at what WAS and began to find the tools that I needed to never miss a chance at what IS I began to move forward.
Over the course of letting go I lost a lot of weight
(and gained a lot of life)
Over the course of wondering what’s next for me and how can I get there I lost a lot of weight
(and gained a lot of life)
Over the course of making small changes and moving ever so slowly forward engaging in my environment I lost a lot of weight
(and gained a lot of life)
Over the course of slowing turning away from my past I opened the door in front of me…
Letting go is not easy. I didn’t just wake up one morning in the midst of some particularly great dream and say “Tara, today is the day you let go of the past and look to the future”. It was (and is) a process of patience with myself and the experiences of what was before. Some days I can’t get past the “What if I had just done a,b, and c instead of x, m and for eff’s sake what was I thinking when I did q?” But instead of stuffing my face with food or sitting for multiple hours playing video games in hopes that the feelings will subside I try as hard as I can to just let the emotions work themselves out knowing from practice that they too will pass. Some days I get upset that I waited what could have very well been half of my life to stand up and take control and shed the 100+ pounds that labeled me as morbidly obese but then I look down and marvel in the body I have today and in the fact that I’ve kept the weight off for almost 2 years. Some days I beat myself up that I let my 20′s and 30′s go by without even trying to find the athlete in me but then I think about all the race numbers I’ve collected, the muscles that show when I’m lifting weights, the medals that hang on my wall and how I’ve done more in the last two years of my life athletically than most people will do in a lifetime.
Dwelling in the past of “what if”, “how could that happen to me”, and “I’ll never let go” doesn’t do anything but make the life that we currently live in painful both emotionally and physically. Emotions stew in us like something that’s burning on a hot stove top. We feel trapped and afraid to look forward and at the same time angry and bitter that there is nothing we can do about it.
Or can we?
For some of us the losing of 100 + pounds is just a physical act. Move more and the weight comes off. For many of us (and I’m most definitely in this group), I had to “let go” in order to let go of the excess weight. I had to stop relying on food to comfort what I feared the most and what I feared the most was what was in the rear view mirror. I had to stop looking for relief in a role playing game and play my own role in real life.
I had to look out the windshield because what’s in front of me is more important than what’s behind me.
I had to be present.
And you can’t do that stuck in the past.