The Worst Houseguest Ever (and how to get rid of her)

We’ve had the worst houseguest all winter. In fact, I’ve never despised anyone more. It’s bad enough she showed up unannounced – but now she hangs out in the WORST possible places, and REFUSES to leave! I’ve been downright rude to her and I’m always telling everyone how much I hate her, even when she can hear me. She doesn’t care. She won’t leave and her annoying presence aggravates me more and more every day. So I started serving her all the nastiest foods: kale, green smoothies, turmeric tea, brussel sprouts. In fact, all the sprouts. She, however, laughed in my face and propped her feet up on my coffee table as if to say, “I ain’t goin’ anywhere, girlfriend. Get used to it.”

I told her in no uncertain terms that I will never get used to it! I refuse to give in to her obstinate and demoralizing ways. She will never get the best of me and I’ll kill her if I have to – but she is NOT stayin’!

So in yet another attempt to get her to leave, I signed up for a membership at Planet Fitness. This will surely piss her off, I thought. She lugged along with me to my workouts and again, very condescendingly laughed at me when I was sweating after just 15 minutes and struggling to get through a full workout.

This is the MOST unwelcome guest I’ve ever entertained. And I never even meant to host her – she just kind of appeared. Slowly… I noticed her more and more and more. She just latched on – attached to me like a barnacle, a leech, a life-sucking demon.

So now, in an effort to destroy the guest I never wanted, I go to Planet Fitness as much as possible. But the problem is, I hate Planet Fitness, too. It’s so depressing because I feel like everyone’s grandmother. It doesn’t help that I live in a college town and all the perky little college girls wear painted on leggings over their perfect tight butts and strut around with all their trendy tattoos and bras for shirts. And even though this college is my alma mater, I think they now disregard literacy as a criteria for admission. Although I am clearly perched DIRECTLY beneath the words “Judgment Free Zone” – I can still feel their glaring weasel-y eyes on me as they think “I’m never gonna let myself go like that mom. When I’m old, like her, I’ll still wear these tight-ass leggings and turn heads at the gym.”

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College girls at my Planet Fitness look like this. Seriously??? No wonder I feel like poking my eyeballs out whenever I leave.

My mom says paranoia runs in our family – but I think she just tells me that to get in my head and watch me self-destruct so she can tell the rest of the family and all her condominium friends what a nut-job I am when they admit me to the psychiatric hospital where I work…

And on this one particular day, with my stupid guest latched heavily to me, my soul was especially downcast. I was feeling so burdened with my health issues, a body that felt like it was failing me, and just overall feeling “less than”. What I really wanted to do was stay in bed til Memorial Day, but somehow I’d found a modicum of strength to drag my sorry ass to Planet Fitness.

I found my favorite treadmill right underneath the sign “Judgment Free Zone” just in case any college Barbie dolls forgot the rules. I walked/ran for as long as my compromised lungs would let me.

I wanted to cry. My lungs said, “Stop! We’re hurting!” My unwanted guest said, “I told you I’d never leave! You are stuck with me forever strapped to you!” My feet said, “Will you ever break down and buy some orthopedic tennis shoes???” My head said, “Face it, Cindy, you are old, fat, and irrelevant.”

My heart said, “I’m broken. Let’s get out of here.”

So I bolted for the door.

And then….

HOLY OF HOLIES….

A beautiful college-aged brunette who was working the Planet Fitness desk – her Chemistry book open on her lap – looked up at me, smiled, and said, “I like your hair.”

I looked over my shoulder convinced she must be addressing someone else. There was no one else there.

I pointed to myself as if to say, “Who me??? This old lady here with enough extra weight I’ve even personified it as an unwanted guest??? This embarrassment to the Planet Fitness establishment who couldn’t even exercise a full hour? You mean me???”

She said, “Yeah. It’s cool. I like the color and the cut.”

Flabbergasted. I’m pretty sure I forgot to say, “Thank-you.” or even a meager, “And I like your tight leggings”.

As soon as I was in my car I sheepishly checked my hair, “You know, your hair really ain’t too bad. It’s not grey yet. And with just a little highlighting help in the winter, the color’s not disgusting. Maybe you’re not a total loser…”

And I literally felt my head lift a little. I felt the unwanted guest shrivel up a bit as I decided to face her head on, admit she was all my fault, and commit to eliminating her entirely. I felt the sun peak through the clouds. I felt like God himself was saying to me, “I love you. I don’t care about a few extra pounds. I don’t care about what others say or think about you. You are special to me and I’m especially fond of you.”

And that, my friends, is the power of ONE COMPLIMENT. My whole view of the world shifted in that moment with one simple remark. And I stepped out of Planet Fitness that day having learned some priceless things:

  • We absolutely CAN change the world one smile, one kind word at a time.
  • WE get to choose the narrative of our lives. There’s much we can’t edit (disease, death, loss, trauma, broken relationships, etc.) but we CAN choose the direction of the story based on our response to those things.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of our words – both for the good and the bad. Use them wisely!
  • Listen to God. His words are always best.
  • Go to the gym. It doesn’t totally suck.
  • Don’t eat the tootsie rolls on the way out of Planet Fitness! Can you say, “Saboteur”???

Go get ‘em friends! Show those unwanted guests the door! Anything in your life that you didn’t want and didn’t ask to take up residence – maybe it’s jealousy or anger or fear or drinking or extra weight or working too much – whatever it is, tell it to take a hike and  get back the life you know is yours!

(And if you’ve ever worked at Planet Fitness and you tell me that employees are instructed to compliment patrons who look like they’re on the verge of tears, I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR IT AND I WILL UNFRIEND YOU FASTER THAN YOU CAN SAY “LEGGINGS”!)

 

 

 

Teens: Want a tattoo for Christmas? How to get Mom to say “Yes”:

My arguments against tattoos were weak at best. But I still thought tattoos were stupid.

 

When our daughter Grace turned 16, she wanted a tattoo. She wanted one bad.

 

I had always believed tattoos were a terrible idea. First, the Bible says so (aka – a Christian’s favorite way to shut down a conversation…) And also, I felt God created us the way we are – with clear skin and no ink because He liked us that way and didn’t feel His handiwork needed to be improved upon.

 

However, those arguments don’t work. The Bible does mention tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), but if Christians today accept that passage as timeless law, so too, would we have to observe the following:  No eating shellfish or pork – locusts, crickets and grasshoppers, however, are encouraged.  No wearing any type of blended fabric and bathing after sex would be mandatory.  Men would also have untrimmed beards and be allowed many wives.  And women – oh my – we’d be killing turtle doves and pigeons left and right as we lived up to the host of rules regarding childbearing and menstruation!   No – I most definitely do NOT want to keep Levitical Laws!

We cannot pick and choose which old testament laws we’ll follow – either they are contextual and not explicitly meant for us today, or, we must agree to them all. Additionally, if God didn’t want us to improve upon His creation, why do I not object to make-up, hair-cuts, ear-piercing, and working out?

 

My arguments against tattoos were weak at best. But I still thought tattoos were stupid.

 

Then Grace asked for one. And she presented me with a well-thought out proposal that was difficult to refute. She reminded me of the following story that happened to some dear friends of ours:

 

Our friends had raised their children in a solid Christian home and taught them all the tenets of the faith. After highschool, however, their oldest son rejected Christianity. He chose to live life on the edges – doing all the things Christians consider “big sins”. When numerous problems began mounting in his life, his father tried to reason with him: “You know, son, I think if you returned to your faith you would find life easier. I think you’re making life harder than it has to be and coming back to Jesus would help.”

 

His son’s response was legendary. He whipped back with this retort: “Are you KIDDING ME?? No way, dad! Right now, I’m choosing the easy way! I’m choosing to live my life MY WAY!  If I were a Christian, THAT’S when my life would get difficult – because I would follow Christ with ALL of me. I could never be like all the Christians I know – who pick and choose the parts of Christianity they want to follow. No way. I’d be ALL-IN. I’d be BALLS-TO-THE-WALL, dad. I think life should be hard for a true Christian – not easy. For me, there’s no compelling argument to follow Jesus because I just don’t see anybody living ALL-IN.”

 

When the father shared that story with us, he said, “He had me. He’s right, you know. Not many Christians really do live ‘all-in’ and ‘balls-to-the-wall’. It really isn’t a compelling movement to follow when most people only follow it half-heartedly.”

 

So….. Grace reiterated this story and then lays this on me: “I want ‘ALL-IN’ tattooed on my wrist. I want to be constantly reminded to live for Christ – all of me – not just part of me.” She had given it serious thought, and wanted “ALL-IN” written in Arabic because it would remind her of when we lived in Morocco and she felt the most “all-in”.  She wanted it on her wrist because that is where the nails were driven that held Jesus to the cross.  She wanted the lettering facing HER, because this was HER reminder:  to live so ALL-IN that her Christian faith would compel others to follow Christ, too.

 

At least she wasn’t asking for a “BALLS-TO-THE-WALL” tattoo…

 

She started asking for the tattoo when she was sixteen. And Paul and I both said no. No way. We refused to let our lovely olive-skinned, underage teen daughter get inked. We have two surf-loving, guitar/drum playing, fairtrade-coffee-drinking, long-haired hippy sons in their young twenties and they’re not even inked yet.

 

I told her to go read Leviticus 19:28. Proof! KaPow!  (maybe she wouldn’t notice the parts about beards, wives, and menstruation…)

 

She told me to go read 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Romans 10:4

 

Touche’

 

I told her I’d think about it.

 

And her pursuit of that tattoo only built momentum over the coming year. If she ever fell short of the character we believed she had within her, she would say, “Well maybe if I had a tattoo to remind me of how to live…..”

 

She would often point out revered friends and/or popular role models who had tattoos and then ask, “Do you think [that particular person] lacks good judgment?”

 

She was good at this. Really good.

 

But as her 17th birthday inched closer, she hit me with the winning stroke:

 

“Mom, you know how the Bible says that our bodies are like temples? Well I was thinking – we find it perfectly acceptable and even good and necessary to adorn the temples, or churches, with things like stained glass windows, beautiful architecture and ornate carvings. And we believe this to be good because all of if should point others to the holiness and beauty of Christ” (I started to regret that we had taken her to numerous grand cathedrals all over Europe and Central America…) “Well, the way I see it, if we tattoo our bodies with beautiful art, or any symbol that points us or others to Christ, we are really trying to accomplish the same purpose. Only this is with our body-temples, not the building-temples. I think tattoos should have meaning. They could be art, or words, or symbols, but their meaning would be to remind ourselves or others that we serve a creative God, who delights in beauty, and is somehow glorified when we create beauty.”

 

She had me.

 

So on her seventeenth birthday, I took her to get her first tattoo. And I got my first one, too:

 

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