Enjoy listening to the Matt Brouwer song Beautiful Now while you read this article. Look for the link below.
Come on let’s admit it. For many people physical fitness is all about “looking good”. We diet, exercise and groom all with the goal of presenting to others what we imagine to be our ideal appearance. But what if you awoke one morning to find not just your appearance but YOU had been forever changed. What if that change was not by your own careful efforts and certainly not in a way you would envision and choose. What would fitness, “good looks” and joy in life look like to you then? And – would you really be all in love with God? For Susan Bailey these are questions for which she has had to find answers.
Can life really change that quickly? For this Virginia resident it did. Susan shares, “One day I got extremely ill with a high fever, chills, and severe vomiting. A few days later I ended up in our local hospital ICU with blood pressure that had plummeted and left doctor’s baffled as to what was wrong. The next day I coded and they discovered the E.coli strain that lives in my colon had somehow leaked out into my blood stream and caused me to go septic, which is where all the organs shut down one by one. After a week in a coma both of my legs were amputated above the knees, and I didn’t wake up for another week.”
If you’ve ever been immobile due to a muscle strain, being overweight or an injury you know that the pain and limitations can affect your mental, emotional and spiritual being. Susan’s immediate and dramatic loss thrust her and her family into an unexpected and entirely new physical reality. Susan recounts, “This began my long journey struggling with immense pain to regain my health and then learn to walk all over again. Tears were a daily occurrence. With my family, friends, and church family supporting me, God provided miracle after miracle to bring me back to the complete health I enjoy today.”
MAKEOVER AND OVERHAUL DEFINED
Consider how these simple definitions take on new meaning when understood within your personal faith and fitness. MAKEOVER: An overall treatment and change in appearance to enhance someone’s personal beauty. OVERHAUL: To examine carefully for faults and necessary repairs to bring about restoration to a completely serviceable condition.
A big change in life for anyone creates an opportunity to have an overhaul. Susan’s childhood shaped her attitudes and life view from an early age and helped prepare her for life today. She describes life from being a child to having children, “I grew up as a Baptist preacher’s fifth child. My mom passed away when I was nine from breast cancer, so I learned at a young age how to depend on God to give me peace and comfort when I desperately needed Him the most. Softball, cheerleading, and basketball were a few sports I played as a child. Bike riding has always been one of my favorites, and I get to continue with that by hand cycling now. Josh, my husband, and I met in high school in our youth group. We were sweethearts from that time. We have been married for over eleven years now. God blessed us with two sons, Will and Paul, who have been such a joy to raise.”
SHOCK AND AWE
As Susan adjusted to her new reality she discovered just how challenging it can be to follow the Biblical instruction to “capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ”. Susan recalls, “About a year after my hospitalization I had a mental break down of sorts once the doctor’s removed me from the narcotic pain killer. It was a delayed reaction that everyone thought I would have much sooner. Depression and anxiety were a daily fight. I eventually checked myself into a mental hospital for a week to get some serious help. It was starting to sink in this would be the new “me” and I would never be the same. Doctor’s feared I would have brain damage. That didn't happen, but I was certainly a changed person. I had to get used to this new difficult life of always having to figure out how to get in and out of a chair, car, or situation if I fell. Before I was truly happy with my life and family, but now happiness is relative, and I’m striving to have true joy in my Lord and Savior.”
This experience has truly been shocking for her family too. Yet, God has given her husband and sons an awesome response. She describes it this way, “The Holy Spirit was so real and evident in Josh’s life as he didn’t leave my side for nearly 2 years after I got sick and was my sole caretaker, even washing my hair, brushing my teeth, dressing me and bathing me. It’s a humbling experience to go from being a healthy and active wife and mother of two young sons to not even being able to roll myself over in bed or lift my arm up. This has been difficult for our boys too. Overall though, this has been a character building transformation that has opened their eyes to people that are different or have disabilities. They are kinder, more caring, and respectful.”
To transform shock into awe, to take a total overhaul and recreate it into a beautiful makeover requires discovering the many qualities of faith. Faith in God is abiding, patient, hopeful and confident. Susan and her family have grown in faith. She explains, “Over the years I’ve certainly had plenty of reason to doubt or even turn away from God, but through all these trials He has brought me through. Now my priority is to deepen and grow my daily relationship with Him and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
PHYSICAL FITNESS AND REALLY LOOKING GOOD
Getting to the gym or doing a physical workout program is an important part in being healthy. When you exercise regularly your body naturally responds and looks good. Scheduling regular times at a salon or spa is a good way to get invigorating treatments and get a refreshing makeover. But, beyond the good physical practices that you can do, there is a spiritual growth and resulting greater spiritual beauty that you can have. A Spiritual Makeover/Overhaul can happen in many ways. It may come about unexpectedly or through your commitment to yielding your will and pursuing God. However, central to a Spiritual Makeover/Overhaul is not so much what you do but what God does in you.
What reason do you give for not exercising? Consider what Susan has learned about physical fitness, “Staying fit is imperative to being healthy. I’m not one to cut out certain food groups, or count points until it drives me crazy. I believe all things in moderation are acceptable, including chocolate. Stretching before putting my legs on is a daily exercise for me so my hip flexors don’t get too tight, which will then leave me hunched over when standing. In the evenings I do my mat exercises, once my legs come off to strengthen my core. Then when I have my prosthetic legs on it is good for me to do walking and balance repetitions to bend the C-legs properly.”
What do you feel keeps you from being as beautiful as you want to be? Susan Bailey has learned that “inner beauty” isn’t just some spiritualized excuse to compensate for outward appearance. Beauty is actively living your faith to impact others. She says, “It was difficult at first to always have people staring and making remarks behind my back. I’ve learned to take it in stride, and talk to everyone with whom I come in contact. I use it as a witnessing opportunity. Confidence is key. I even made my license plate read, “NO LEGS”. That has started quite a few conversations over the years. I always try to laugh and make jokes with people to help them feel at ease when being around me.”
Beyond talking she is doing, “I speak at churches and organizations, I ran an amputee support group locally and attended numerous amputee conferences. Right now my priority is raising our sons with my husband. But, I know God has a BIG ministry plan for me.”
What beautiful plan does God have for you? If you want to show off more than surface good looks then go get a makeover/overhaul. God has a rugged beauty to reveal in you.
YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE THE NEW YOU – DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. What are your attitudes about beauty and God?
2. You likely have your own image of what defines a traditional makeover and overhaul. After reading this article how do you define the meaning of a Spiritual Makeover/Overhaul for your life? What significance would it have in your life?
3. How do you think other people view you? What are their attitudes about you and how do they treat you?
4. How do you view yourself? How do you measure your own physical and spiritual beauty? Consider what words you would use to describe yourself physically and spiritually.
5. Take time to scour the Bible to gain a better understanding of how God views you. At the same time take frequent opportunities to pray and seek God personally about your physical and spiritual beauty. If you can view yourself and others from God’s perspective what do you think you will see? What do you want to see?
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