Saturday, February 09, 2008

Before And After

Yesterday I was watching tv. (Yes, I ran and watched tv in one day. I know.) Anyway, I don't even remember what I was watching (some kid program) and I noticed there was an abundance of weight loss commercials on. I guess because it is daytime tv and who else but moms who constantly struggle with weight (Joni, I loved your comment about our weight loss goals never being enough-- right there with ya!) are watching daytime tv? That is what the advertising people count on, at least.

But yesterday as I watched all these ads, I realized that one of the key elements of a successful weight loss ad is the before and after photos. They really are amazing when you see them, and they are what draws you in, and makes you believe. You think, "Wow, if she looks like that, then just think what I will look like if I 1) buy that system, 2) buy that video series, 3) buy that pill or 4) buy that counseling program."

But then I thought about those folks who had to force themselves to pose for that "before" photo. In a bikini no less. I know that right now I am not going anywhere near a bikini. And I am definitely not signing up to be photographed in one!! I thought of my friend Karen, who lost over 100 pounds in a little over a year. She told me that, when she was asked to give her testimony about this at Hearts At Home, they wanted a "before" photo to put up on the screen. She had to search long and hard to even find one. And she realized that there really weren't any because she had been avoiding the camera for years.

Which brings me back to those weight loss ads. And how the effectiveness of the ad is based on the before and the after. We have to see the transformation with our own eyes. We have to know how far they have come. The further, the better. "From a size 22 to a size 6!" The words flash on the screen. And we marvel over what this person accomplished. Their story somehow translates to our story. If she can do that, we think. Then maybe...

I realized that this is true of so many things. We need to see that transformation is possible. We need the encouragement of the stories of others. Most of all, we need their courage to share the reality of where they were so that we can be encouraged by where they are now. I am glad that my friend Karen is willing to share her story. And I applaud those brave souls who put on a bikini and posed for the camera-- not because they were proud of what they looked like-- but because they were filled with enough hope about where they would end up. They admitted the before because they were confident in the after.

Do you have some befores that you need to share? I am not talking bikini pictures. I am talking honest, transparent openness. This is where I was. And this is where God has brought me. Maybe for you it is weight loss or fitness. Or maybe it is beating some addiction. Maybe it is making strides in the way you speak to your husband-- reverencing him instead of talking trash about him. Maybe it is in the way you have embraced your role as a mom-- embracing it instead of running from it. It is in sharing the before that people can appreciate the after. Though Satan tries to keep us bound by the shame of our befores, we can only celebrate God's transforming power when we expose that part too. Is there something God is prompting you to share about where you have come from? I know that it is only when I am real and open and honest and vulnerable that I reach people in an impacting way. Even when it makes me feel exposed in a most uncomfortable way.

But you're still not getting me in front of a camera in a bikini.
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Amy Wyatt said...

Thanks for putting this into words. These thoughts have been going around in my head for months. My friend Janet and I have talked often about how everybody wants the "after" but noone wants to admit what the "before" is or do the work with diligence required to get to the "after". I have posted in my kitchen "The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied." Proverbs 13:4 We must be diligent and persevere in many struggles to get to the "ever after" that Christ has promised. Thanks for sharing.

Jenny said...

Awhile back you wrote about the song, Caught in the Middle, by Casting Crowns. That is exactly where I feel most of the time. Sometimes I get discouraged thinking that I am just stuck doing and being the same old person. But over time God always reveals His plan. The before and after snapshots are often different than I would have originally wanted...they are better!
Thanks for this post. It was a good reminder.

Dawn Ward said...

Hi Marybeth. I want to share about how God is moving in my life right now.

Sixteen and one half years ago, I had an abortion. For twelve, long, agonizing years, it was my deep, dark secret. The enemy tortured me with the guilt and shame of what I had done. You see, I was a Christian at the time and pro-life, yet, in the moment, I made a choice borne out of desperation. I couldn't face myself after that.

Somewhere along the way, I asked God to forgive me, and in my head, I knew that He had, but I didn't allow it to penetrate my heart. Five and one half years ago, I experienced the fullness of God's healing and forgiveness, and now God is calling on me to share my testimony openly.

I have been sharing whenever possible since having received His healing, but He is now asking me to do this on a larger scale. Included in this is sharing with my family who still do not know. I will be doing that very soon. I am also going to be leading an abortion recovery study through my church in a couple of months. I will be participating, possibly speaking, at a Students for Life event at a local university campus in early April. I also believe that God is asking me to post my story on my own blog. I will be doing that as soon as I have shared with my family because some of them read it.

If there is anyone reading this post who has suffered through the pain of an abortion and has not received God's healing, please feel free to contact me. God loves you and so wants you to know that Jesus covered this sin on the cross as well.

Thank you, Marybeth, for allowing me to share this here.

Under Grace,