Invictus

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Self-control. That moment when you notice the bright red “Hot Now” sign at Krispy Kreme, but pass it on by. That moment when you get an email in your inbox from your favorite store about a HUGE 50% OFF SALE, but delete it anyway. That moment when you start taking back your life and not letting anyone else into the driver’s seat again. Whether you use self-control to keep from indulging on your favorite treats, spending your hard-earned money on clothes you don’t need, or to regain power over your life once again, a lack of it can ruin you and hinder you from living your life the way it’s meant to be.

Starting out on Weight Watchers, I lacked the self-control needed to truly have success on the program. It took a lot of wrong turns to learn that I didn’t need the comfort foods I had so often turned to anymore. I learned that by eating healthier foods I felt much better internally and about myself in general. It took time and a lot of strength and perseverance to build up a resistance every time those comfort foods were presented to me. Slowly, it became much easier to turn down the bad, unhealthy foods and choose the much healthier alternatives. I overcame the obstacles that stood in the way of me reaching my weight loss goals.

Although I learned self-control when it came to the food I put into my body, it has taken me a lot longer to apply that same self-control in my everyday life. I have been burned many times in the past because I didn’t speak up for myself and instead, let someone else take the reins on my life. I’ve let close friends control how I spent my time and even heavily influence my opinions on certain things. I let a guy control my emotions and happiness and somehow blame myself for why it didn’t work out between us. I can no longer let people walk all over me and take advantage of me. It certainly isn’t healthy and although I have greatly improved in this area, it’s still something I struggle with and continually work on daily. I am normally a follower in most situations and circumstances and tend to let other people take the lead. That has always been my nature. I’ve become more comfortable with that. It’s difficult for me to take the initiative because I want to avoid confrontations and arguments, so I hang back and let someone else decide for me. A life lived this way is very dangerous, I know. But while it’s not okay to let other people control your life, there is one who should.

“In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10).

A few months ago, I got a tattoo on my wrist that says, “Invictus”. This is Latin for undefeated or unconquerable. It actually comes from the poem entitled “Invictus”, not from the movie. I got it as a reminder that I am in control of my life, no one else. No one except God of course. God is the One and only who will ever have control and should have control over my destiny. He is the only One that I can give full rein to. When obstacles come in the form of stressful college classes, hard times between family and friends, or what’s expected of me in the future, I give it all over to God. It does not do me any good to sit around and dwell on the situation because sometimes there’s nothing I can do about it at the time. Not to mention, it’s a waste of time and energy to focus all your attention on something that is out of your hands. God knows what is best for me. He knows how the situation should and will be handled. He will also always be there for me so I know I’ll never have to face any situation on my own. It’s comforting to know that fact. To know that I am not alone and to know that I can get through anything when He is by my side. Who really wants to be alone when you’re faced with the tough circumstances life throws your way? It’s a burden lifted off my shoulders when I give all my worries and cares to Him. In time, this has become easier to do, but it is a fight within me that I work to improve so it becomes second nature to automatically turn to God and immediately take it to Him what is on my heart.

“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:23-25).

“Invictus”

By William Ernest Henley 1849–1903

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

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“Pray. Relax. Let Go. And Let God Take Over” (Unknown)

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Many of us have been asked the question, where do you see yourself in five years? How many of us can answer this question? How many of us have our whole life mapped out in what looks to be a perfect scenario? I’ve been asked this question many times at different points in my life. I always have the normal cliché answers of reaching a weight loss or fitness goal, being married, having a great job, and on my way to beginning a family of my own. Those answers and then some are what make up the majority of our life plans. What I’ve learned through my various list-making occasions is that my list doesn’t always occur in the time-frame I’ve allotted for. And what happens when our plan doesn’t pan out like we would like it too? We become discouraged and upset that everything didn’t work out the way we wanted. We start to say to ourselves, maybe it’s just not meant to be? So we immediately begin to create a new list with basically the same answers as before.

When I was a senior in high school, I thought I had my life all planned out. I was going to Faulkner University to pursue a pre-physical therapy degree and eventually would go on to become a physical therapist. Of course, attending college such as Faulkner I was asked countless times if I was going to earn a Mrs. degree. My answer was always no, which was true because that’s not why I was going to school; although if I happened to find my future husband there then that would be just an added bonus. Or so I thought at the time. Well, I got to Faulkner and only stayed my first semester of my freshman year. In that span of time I had job shadowed at a rehab center with a physical therapist assistant and decided this was not the career for me. I moved back home and transferred to the University of South Alabama and majored in radiologic technology to become an x-ray technician and eventually specialize in ultrasound technology. Again, I was required to job shadow one day at a hospital in Mobile and quickly realized that was not meant for me either. I changed my major once again to nursing because I really didn’t know what else to do. I’ve always wanted to work in the medical field and USA was known for their nursing program, so I thought why not? Once I got into all the school work involved for that major and hearing how small the number of people was that actually got accepted into the nursing program, I started rethinking my major once again. Come to find out, most of my family members could not see me becoming a nurse and in the back of their minds didn’t think this was the career for me either. It turned out that they were very much right about that.

It was at the beginning of my sophomore year at USA that I began to take control of the weight that I had gained and started out on Weight Watchers. I had already changed my major to nursing at this point. When I started Weight Watchers and begin to learn more about nutrition and healthy eating I became a little obsessed with the whole thing. I was constantly reading health articles, nutrition news, and magazines on the latest information. I enjoyed reading all I could find on this topic. I read about various diet fads, what foods you should and should not eat, how important exercise is to your overall health and so much more. It wasn’t until the second semester of my sophomore year that I began to reevaluate my major one last time. What I discovered was that USA did not have any type of nutrition major available. I searched schools nearby and found out that the University of Alabama had a food and nutrition major that was offered online. I wanted this option because I was not yet prepared to move away from home yet. I began at UA as an online student my junior year and loved all my classes and learning about something that was so personal and important to me. Nutrition and Weight Watchers had changed my life and I loved the thought of becoming a dietitian and working with people, like me, to help them reach their own weight loss and health goals. After completing my junior year online at UA I realized it was time for me to move away from home and finish out the rest of my schooling from Tuscaloosa. Well as you all know that’s what happened and the rest is history.

As a senior in high school, never in my life could I have imagined this is where my life would turn out to be. It’s completely different from my five year plan and all the clichéd answers I came up with. And you know what? I’m really okay with that. I couldn’t be happier with the way my life has turned out and the person I’ve become. I know God is doing great things and continues to help me grow and mature. What I thought was a perfect plan for me at the time, was not really what God had in store. His ways are so much better than mine and I am constantly reminded of that. I’ve learned to no longer create five year plans. Don’t get me wrong though; there is nothing wrong with having dreams, goals, and ambitions for yourself. In fact, that’s very important. I’m just saying we shouldn’t get caught up in making sure everything on our five year plan is reached and attained in that time span. You never know what or who will come into your life that will make you change directions. Always be open for change. I know change is scary because you don’t know what will happen, but if we have faith in God that everything will work out, then everything will be fine. All you have to do is let Him take over and lead the way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9