During this past Body Sculpt Challenge, I conducted a voluntary Diagnostic Challenge for my participants. This 5-day nutritional challenge involved completely giving up, or surrendering, certain foods in hopes that you could experience a significant change in your body. Everybody who participated experienced everything from losing 4 lbs to clearing up Rosacea to losing inches to improving gastrointestinal issues.
The main challenge of the Diagnostic Challenge was the surrendering part. We've all grown to love certain foods that wound up not being good for us. While I'm not against eating ANY kind of foods, I am against eating foods that are physically doing harm to your body. Perhaps dairy is causing inflammation in your body, and if you don't surrender the dairy, then you'll ultimately surrender your life. But ice cream, cheese, and butter taste so good!
Perhaps simple sugar is causing you to have stomach issues. If you don't surrender it, then you'll surrender your gastrointestinal track. It would get so inflamed that you could barely absorb any nutrients and you'll slowly waste away.
You see where I'm going with this? There is something in your life that you thoroughly enjoy, but it's causing you harm and you probably know it. But the comfort of this thing keeps you from surrendering it, and as long as you hold onto it, you'll pay a huge price for it.
I think about a story in the Bible concerning a man named Naaman, who was a Syrian (or Aramean depending on your translation) army commander. He suffered from a disease called leprosy, which was probably not the same kind of leprosy that we know of today. This kind of disease was marked by the whitening of the skin, almost like the disease Vitiligo which is marked by white patches of skin all over your body.
This commander was told that a prophet in Israel named Elisha would be able to heal him from the disease. So, he goes to Elisha, but before the commander could actually meet this prophet, Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman instructing him to dip in the Jordan River seven times if he wanted to be healed. Instead of being excited about this news, Naaman got angry! In his words, he thought that the prophet would come out to meet him, call upon God, wave his hand over him, and POOF! He would be healed. Then Naaman started wondering why he had to dip in the Jordan River of all places, as apparently the Jordan River wasn't all that attractive to him. Maybe it was a dirty river. So, the commander started to walk away from Elisha's house, fuming.
But one of the commander's servants talked some sense into Naaman, saying, "Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn't you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, 'Go and wash and be cured!' " Seeing that Naaman was rather reasonable, he took his servant's advice and washed in the river. He was healed from his disease and couldn't be happier.
Why didn't Naaman want to dip in the river in the first place? Most likely because of his pride. He simply wanted to stand in front of the prophet and do nothing else. He was the commander of the army of a great nation, and it would be humiliating to dip in the nasty Jordan River. But in order for him to move forward and to cure himself, he had to surrender that pride. Once he did that, he was cured. (You could find this story in 2nd Kings chapter 5.)
Literally and figuratively speaking, there are so many things we could cure ourselves from by simply surrendering one thing in our lives. By simply surrendering your love for sugar, you could drop 10 pounds in a week! By simply surrendering your love for entertainment, you could get more important things done. By simply surrendering your pride, you could keep your job. By simply surrendering your urge to lie, you could earn more trust from the people around you.
No matter what you want to accomplish in life, there would always be something holding you back from your goal. And this thing is usually not all that difficult to shake off. The reason you're holding onto it is simply because you don't want to let it go.
Back in the day when I used to watch The Simpsons, there was an episode where Homer tried to grab a soda can from the vending machine by sticking his arm into the machine. He got one arm stuck and then used his other arm to grab something else from another vending machine. So, now this man is stuck and the fire department had to come rescue him. One of the fire fighters told Homer that they would have to saw his arms off! So, while one of the fire fighters was about to cut one of his arms off, someone else stepped in and asked Homer if he was holding onto the items in the vending machines. All Homer had to do was let go of those items if he wanted to be free. He walked away humiliated as everybody was laughing at him.
Just think what Homer could have lost by holding onto the vending machine items. He was stuck because he didn't want to let go. Sounds like you, doesn't it? You're stuck right now because you don't want to let go of something. It's not hard to let it go. Nothing is forcing you to keep it. Just like with Homer, all you need to do is to simply let go of it.
Naaman wasn't told to do something difficult. All he had to do was dip in the river 7 times. It doesn't take much effort to do that. The servant that reasoned with him probably couldn't believe Naaman was about to walk away from the answer to his disease because his pride got in the way. And sometimes, pride is so huge that you wouldn't surrender it even if you knew that life could be made better for you.
There was an episode on T.V. about the repo man who would give people a chance to keep their cars if they could answer some trivial questions. Some people were able to keep their cars while others couldn't. But this repo man went to one woman who was just prideful! She fussed at him the entire time, not giving him a chance to explain to her that she had a chance to keep the car. The repo man tried his best to reason with her, but her pride just got in the way. So, the repo man just took her car.
What is holding you back from success? What great changes could you make in your life if you could just simply surrender something? You know what it is and you know what you need to do, and it's not hard to do it. You just simply need to be willing to surrender it. Give it away, because you don't need it. Give it up, because it's holding you back. Let it go, because you can't be all that you can be as long as this thing is in your life.
Doing what you want to do in life is not as important as working with what you already have. In life, you don't always get to choose your direction. You don't always get to choose your circumstances. You don't always get to choose where you're going to live, or how your kids would turn out, or even what career you'll eventually get. But you could ALWAYS choose to work with what you got.
Recently at church, our minister was teaching a Bible class and mentioned the "heroes of faith" as outlined in Hebrews chapter 11. He pointed out that all of these "heroes" were flawed men who screwed up in life, yet God was still able to work with them. Then somebody in class said, "That was all he had to work with!"
That was pretty deep for me. Even the Master of all the universe had to struggle with working with what he had to use -- broken, flawed, imperfect people who always messed up. Instead of compromising their free will and turning them into robots, he decided to just simply work with what he had.
Many of you, whether you're a believer or not, are familiar with the story of Samson and Delilah. Samson was to take the "Nazarite Vow" to be dedicated to the Lord's service, which meant he couldn't drink any alcohol, cut his hair, touch dead bodies, etc. The people of Israel were under Philistine control at that time because they've forsaken God, but because the Israelites repented, God rose up a "savior," also known as a "judge" during that time.
But Samson was quite a rascal! He was the most unlikely candidate to save Israel, and his ultimate demise happened when he got involved with the Philistine girl Delilah. As you know, Delilah bound Samson in his sleep and cut his hair off, which was his source for strength. The Philistines captured Samson, gouged his eyes out, and made him entertainment. Samson prayed to God to receive his strength back so that he could get back at the Philistines for plucking out his eyeballs. God gave him his strength back, and Samson pushed down a pillar that held up the building where the Philistines were having a party. The building collapsed and killed all who were there, including Samson.
Samson was one of the worst people that God could ever use. He was vengeful. He left his wife and slept with a prostitute. He grieved his parents. Why did God use him? Well, because Samson was all God could work with at that time. The Israelites were set free from Philistine captivity -- even though it wasn't in the most ideal way.
See, even the best of the best had to work with what he had. In the same way, you need to be willing to work with what you have. Your situation may not be the most ideal. You may not have all the tools you want. You may not be working in a career that you particularly care for. You may not live where you want to. But you know what? It's all that you have to work with. So instead of crying about how nothing is going your way, see how you could use what you have to your favor.
A cop at my church just recently told me a story of a felon who was released from jail. He couldn't find any work and was thinking about committing a crime so he could go back to prison. Having a criminal record is like having a bad credit report for the rest of your life. No bank wants to lend you anything (which is not too bad of a deal), so you have to scrap up cash on your own. Once you have a criminal record, finding a job would be a challenge, because nobody wants you!
The cop started talking to him and mentioned that he should buy a cheap van so he could do mobile car washes. This felon was good at washing cars anyway. At the cop's advice, this former criminal bought a van from Craig's List, bought a water tank and generator. He started going to different businesses offering on-site car washes. Eventually, he started getting so much work that he had to hire other people. Now, he's making six figures and built himself a beautiful home -- all because he decided to work with what he had. He could have given up and gone back to prison, but he took the cop's advice and work with the tools he had.
See, it doesn't matter what you want in life. What matters is the willingness to use the tools that you already have and to use them well. You may not be doing what you want to do, but if you're willing to work with what you got, then you might find yourself in a much better place!
Speaking of messed up people, I think about Israel's second king, King David. He was considered a "man after God's own heart." But he did some bad stuff. He had a bunch of wives, and if that wasn't enough, he decided to sleep with another man's wife and had that man killed. He denied one of his wive's any sexual contact from him because she was mad that he danced nearly naked in front of a bunch of ladies. But...well...at the time, he was the best that God could use, so God decided to work with what he had.
Being a former teacher, I know what it's like to have "favorites" -- these are your "star students" who are truly passionate about you. They are always doing their work, always respectful, never cause problems, and they have the best parents ever! And then...well...I had everybody else, each of them bringing in his or her unique struggles. For the most part, these kids do what you say, but they never give their best. They don't always do their work, and if they do, it may be average or below-average quality. Their parents act clueless or are just not involved. And eventually, as a teacher, you'll just get sick of looking at these kids who seem to kill your dreams as a teacher.
But what makes a person a true teacher is how well he or she could work with the stuff that's presented to him or her. Life doesn't give you the stars: it gives you all the space rocks that are floating around the earth, some of which could enter our atmosphere, and few of which could smash into your car! But if you know how to use what you got, you could take that space rock and sell it to science for a few thousand dollars! Those meteorites don't look so bad now, do they? A true teacher could work with each student just as he or she is and eventually turn that student into gold.
No matter where you are in life, you will RARELY (if ever) get exactly what you want. But who cares about that? What makes or breaks you is your ability to work with the materials that you have NOW. We get caught up in chasing dreams, but we don't realize that we could make dreams happen by using what we have. The dream that you get may not be a dream you originally wanted, but if that dream takes you places, would you mind? Maybe you didn't get to act on Broadway, but if you started your own theatre, hired your own actors, and had a great living doing so, would you really mind that you didn't make it on Broadway? I'm sure you wouldn't!
You don't know what your tools could do for you if you're not willing to use them. So take a step back, forget about your past aspirations, and look in front of you. What do you have to use? What can you offer? What could you do RIGHT NOW? Maybe some day in the future, you just might have what you wanted. But for now, just focus on what you have to work with.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.