Koinonia: the greek word used in the bible to describe the community of believers. The world will make it hard enough for all of us. Yet, as the body of believers, we stand together in support of one another.
Truth be told, I know I’m overweight. And sure, I could give hundreds of reasons why (stress, eating, energy to cook dinner, etc.) but when all is said and done, I am overweight. So, to counteract that, I started exercising a fairly good amount. About once a day, with a couple days off here and there, I am running 2-4 miles and logging them on a fantastic app I found called Runtastic. Furthermore, I am calorie counting again through My Fitness Pal. Basically, what this means is that I decide what I want to eat and get a salad instead. Since I started this, I am down about 20 pounds from where I started and 5 pounds away from my first goal.
During this journey towards better fitness, there have been ups and downs, good times and bad times. Along the way, two kids of people have tried to support me.
First, there are those who sought to “fix” me. Often times, their words while they intended them to be helpful left me feeling gross, self-conscious, and dejected. There has been hurt and judgment while attempting to trim down.
More importantly, there are those who are genuinely proud of me. They have given support, encouragement, and guidance as I am undertaking new skills. I would not have been able to make the progress I have made without them. Those in my life group and in my Saturday bible study have been a true inspiration and motivator. They have stood by me, literally, through thick and thing. This the the koinonia, the shared life. This is the embodiment of scripture.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
– Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV
It is vital that we are able to support one another during our lives and stand with one another. As with most things I have found, there is room to grow on both sides and losing weight is no exception. From an overweight person seeking to drop weight and making progress, here are some helpful ways to support one another.
To Those Trying To Support Someone Exercising
- Be Sensitive. Most people who are overweight know they are. For many of us, it isn’t an issue of just numeric weight, but is accompanied by a self-loathing when we look in the mirror. Whether true or not, society tends to put a higher value on a certain amount of beauty and looks. The idea of “fat-shaming” someone has never been a good motivator for change. Instead, be sensitive to where a person is. Encourage them along the way and be proud of the steps they are taking, even if you can see the immediate progress.
- Understand Where They Are In The Journey. As someone is starting off, you may not see the immediate loss of 50 pounds. In fact, it may take a good amount of time to see a difference. If someone says they are exercising more, now is probably not the best time to comment how you don’t see it. Encourage them in their first steps or even in their 1,000th step. If someone is saying they are exercising, they are more than likely excited about this next step.
- Time and Place For Workout Advice. There is a time to support people with tactics and advice. From various trainers and nutritionists I have talked to, everyone needs to find the way that works for them. Furthermore, everyone has an opinion on “the best way.” I caution starting anything with “What you have to do…” Often times losing weight isn’t that simple for a person and implying it is can come off as an accusation that we are just lazy.
To Those Trying to Lose Weight
- Take God With You On This Journey. First and foremost, your body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). Getting in shape has components of physical, emotional, and spiritual with each part needing attention as you go. However gross, disgusting, or unworthy you may feel, bring every last bit of that before God. He is a God of mercy and grace who will love and accept you regardless of whatever physical, emotional, or spiritual condition you find yourself in. God will walk with you through this journey and readily give you His strength.
- Be Patient with Others. I truly don’t think that people mean to be hurtful when they comment on size and weight and when they give unsolicited advice. I know this is painful to hear when you are looking for someone to encourage you. But show grace. God has shown me an immense amount of grace not just for my weight, but for my sins and my eternity. I can show grace to others who may have good intentions with bad executions. As Jesus hung on the cross he cried out “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” We can do the same as others try to help.
- Keep Up The Good Work, You Sexy Beast. You have value and worth well beyond whatever scales, BMIs, and other statistics and metrics say. You are loved by God and have His strength and support for this journey as we tidy up the God’s temple. God accepts us by His unconditional grace. I know it can feel gross, difficult, and like we are not making progress, but never give up. Persevere and know that you have worth and value beyond what any person can say about you.
We all have to walk through this world together in koinonia, shared life and community. As we walk through fitness and taking care of our bodies, we can all link arms in support of one another and in shared life with each other as the community of believers.