This week’s post is a guest blog by a dear friend and sister in Christ whom I’ve known since seventh grade! Haley Campbell, as one can swiftly gather from spending two seconds on her social media accounts, is a beautiful, big-hearted young woman with a radiance that shines from the inside out! Her love for Christ is evident in every area of her life, from how tenderly she tends to toddlers to how passionately she helps other women pursue and maintain healthy lifestyles.
I know you all will be blessed by Haley’s words. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to her (links at the end); she delights in helping and encouraging others. She also knows a thing or two about excuse-proofing your life and keeping fitness at the top of your priority list!
As a wife, mom to two toddlers (3 and 2), friend, daughter, Sunday school teacher, retired ﬁtness specialist, small group leader, cook, and chauffeur, my days are often full of reﬁlling sippy cups, wiping down day-old milk off of the couch, and making sure I don’t lose any of my children in the piles of laundry, all of course… in my yoga pants.
Nothing short of glamorous, I tell you. Just an average day in the life of a stay-at-home mom with BIG dreams that go beyond my four walls. It’s in those small-mom cracks of the day that I get to live out a passion laid on my heart years ago: helping women discover, or rediscover, their beauty in Christ through ﬁtness. I get to go after dreams that the Lord has placed upon my heart. Dreams that I would have laughed at 10 years ago because my younger self would have never thought I would actually be capable of pursuing them.
I never really believed in myself before. I never really thought “my purpose” was signiﬁcant… until God showed me that He can and will use anyone who is willing. But here I am. Pursuing this passion that burns deep within my soul anyway. And it all goes back to these moments…
As an adolescent I watched everyone in my family struggle with their weight – except me. My dad, my mom,and my little sister all battled the physical, mental, and emotional struggles that come with carrying extra weight. I watched my mom talk down to herself as she tried on clothes in the dressing room. I watched my little sister come home with tear-stained shirts because of the bullying that took place at school. I watched my dad not care about the clothes he wore or how he ﬁxed his hair because taking care of his physical body wasn’t a priority.
What I experienced in those moments were the brokenness, heartache, and pain of an ongoing cycle that weighed my family down. But from my perspective, I never saw any of that in them.
My mom was so beautiful and wise. My sister, she had an undeniable ability to see others’ needs and seek to comfort them. My dad, he could do/make just about anything he put his mind to. It wasn’t about the physical; we all shared a bond that ran deep in our veins, and my love for them was so strong that I saw past their physical characteristics.
I believe this is much of how God sees us too. 1 Samuel 16:7 says “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
God sees your heart too.
I vowed in those years that “weight” would never be something I struggled with because I WATCHED how emotionally tolling it is on your life. How it affects everything, from your job, to your relationships, to your attitude about life.
And then I had my ﬁrst child. A beautiful, perfect baby boy.
For the ﬁrst time in my life I looked in the mirror and saw a different person. Before him, I had never had to worry about weight or looking in the mirror at a round face. But that had become my reality and it weighed me down. The marks left on my body were proof of carrying my son for 9 months. And though I was grateful and would do it all again in a heartbeat (and actually did 9 months later), I struggled.
It wasn’t necessarily about the extra few pounds but the changes that I experienced with my body. It was letting go of the “old” to embrace the “new.” It was a transition I wasn’t mentally prepared for at all.
One day, as I stood facing myself in the mirror, studying every scar, I realized it went beyond the physical… it was a matter of the heart.
I was believing the lies that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t capable of being the mom my son needed, and that I was failing as a wife struggling to juggle the new life that comes with having a new baby. I saw myself through eyes of rejection, pain and betrayal; and to compensate, I was seeking perfection, which we all know doesn’t exist.
After several years of this cycle and another baby later, I finally sought out the truths and vision of how God sees me. Through prayer, soul searching, counseling, and letting God’s words fall on me, it was then that I began to break the chains and see myself how my Father in Heaven sees me.
Here is where TRUE freedom lies. Here is where TRUE freedom begins. Here is where TRUE redemption is. Let these words sink into your heart, dear friend.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” -2 Corinthians 5:17
You are a new creation in him.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
You are forgiven. Christ yearns for healing and forgiveness in your life.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8
You are saved by grace, not by anything you have ever done or will ever do.
“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to ﬂesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’” John 3:3-6
If you are a daughter of the King, you possess the same power within you that rose Christ from the dead.
As I started focusing on growing myself, physically, mentally and spiritually and stopped ignoring the pain and scars of my past, that is when the weight was lifted and I was freed. Freed from the negative self-talk, freed from the lies that I wasn’t good enough, freed from the unforgiveness that ate away at my soul.
Laying it ALL down at Jesus’ feet and embracing the imperfect scars which adorned my new body, was a pivotal point in my adult life. Through that season, I learned I needed to let go in order to gain. And once I did, that was when healing began and I saw myself in a different beauty. HIS beauty.
So my friend, where do you ﬁnd your beauty? Is it in others? Is it in what you see when you look in the mirror? Is it in pursuing perfection? Is it in ﬁtness?
For me, pursuing ﬁtness and health in my own personal life is a vessel which brought about redemption and healing. But I often have to remind myself that “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised” (Proverbs 31:30). I am reminded that my pursuit of a healthy lifestyle is not about what I might gain but about bringing glory to God, so that not only may I feel my best but so that I can also GIVE my best – where God has called me.
So friend, remember these things too…
NOTHING you have ever done is too far from the forgiveness of God’s grace. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” Acts 3:19
We are called to be a light in the darkness. “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
We are royalty, daughters of the One Most High. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
Will you let go of the lies so that you can gain life? Will you proclaim these truths over your heart? Will you say them out loud and listen to the words as you speak them?
You are bold, brave and beautiful.
If any of this blesses you or speaks to your heart in any way, I would love to hear from you! Or if you would like to learn more about my journey and how I help other women pursue a passion by helping them ﬁnd their beauty through ﬁtness, reach out to me! I’d love to chat and get to know you!
Follow me on FB: www.fb.com/haleycampbellﬁtness