TOBI BENTON

10 Pounds Heavy

10 Pounds Heavy

10 Pounds Heavy

Would you believe smiles are possible at mile 23 with 3.2 more miles to go?

I was 40 years old when I ran the Ogden Marathon with one of my very best friends.

40 years old and I weighed the same thing 20 years and 4 children later as I did on my wedding day.

Years of 3 miles a day, 5 days a week, familiar routes and my trusty portable cd player pounding out BenFoldsFive to each footfall.  You might have been one of the sages warning that everything changes after 40, but after challenging that myth to your face I’d simply smile and let my inside voice keep telling you how wrong you were.  I’d prove it to you.  Just watch me.

It never really was about the weight for me.  I rarely stepped on a scale.  It was about lifestyle.  A life that rejected over-indulgence, small altars of decadence, and turning to anything other than God for comfort.

And then.

Then we packed up our Air Force home again and left behind so many we loved.  Such a love we weren’t prepared to grieve for.  We knew how to set our face to the next place and offer comfort to those who grieved on this side of our move.  But when we arrived in D.C. we never seemed to have time to sit in the ash and dust of our lonely hearts and tell the Lord just.how.hard He had made it to leave love behind.

And then.

Then we had a son who faced his grief with “what’s the point?” to everything from school to new friendships.  He was old-hat enough to know 10 months in D.C. wouldn’t root itself for any of us.  He was young enough to not  know how to scan the horizon for the wisp of cloud promising rain for our dryness, young enough to resist our words of promise that refreshment is found in the Lord alone and His word is faithful and true.  He sat right down in the heap outside the city walls and covered his head with the dust for awhile.  The honest one in our midst.

And then.

Then we bowed our heads and hearts and He pushed us to our knees, pushed to a line of sight that revealed boys at home, lessons learned of this world through the lens of the Creator who made it.  Who knew the pounds of character flaws, pockets and dimples of fat that would be smoothed to lean, supple flesh?  Who knew the sweat, tears, and aching muscles home schooling would demand of us?

And then.

Then we moved across the world to a foreign land and a job that demanded of us our very hearts.  And for another season in my marriage my husband belonged to another woman.  The 86th MUNS Squadron.  I knew.  I knew from practice how to share him, how to not grow a jealous heart, and best of all, experience had taught me how to keep him watching for me in each frame of his day.  We shared our love with 86 MUNS, but she always knew I was his first and forever love.

I bet I’ve logged a total of 30 workout days in the last three years.

Yes, I told the doctor, I’m aware that I can’t go from that level of fitness and not feel bad in my skin because I only sit at a desk … or on the floor … or at the banquet table … or my friend’s couch for coffee … or the German restaurant for a rare stolen moment of girl-time … or at the monthly wives night out.

Today was day two of my new schedule which includes time for me to workout.  Which, by the way, after a three-year hiatus, completely.totally.sucks.  I’m not even going to add the “but in a good way.”  Maybe I’ll report that next week.

Oh, for the record.  I have 10#s to lose for my goal weight.  It’s my goal because I refuse to go buy new clothes.  With a daughter getting married this summer and two teen/tween boys needing pants every three months (for heaven’s sake!) I’m just grateful that it’s the season of skinny jeans with long sweaters and boots.  You know me?  You know precisely the long black sweater I’m referring to!

I made a discovery today.  Though I hate that I have a belly roll for the first time in my life, though I’m uncomfortable with upper arm fat, and for goodness sake my calves were already big enough thanks to genetics and running … um, I’m okay with 10#s to lose.  Physical health is not everything and the highest priority in my life.  My soul needs to be healthy.  My spirit needs care.  My mind must not starve, and it was a beautiful.hard.moment in our family’s life, these last three years.  But with training, perseverance, and lots and lots of rest, we have crossed more than one finish line with victory.

I don’t regret the comfort food around our table.

I don’t regret for a moment the weekly coffee dates with my youngest, while his brother was at Bible study.

I don’t regret most Tuesday meals being shared at the food court, because it meant food was just one of the things we needed for sustenance, Subway-sandwiched between youth group and scouts and a dad who stayed late at the office so we could have more of him on other nights.

I don’t regret for a moment all those dinners with spouses from the 86 MUNS, laughter and encouragement for ladies fighting the good fight of military life.

I don’t regret for a moment every captured moment with the Commander, 10#s of Airmen Leadership Dinners, AF Balls, coffee at Wasgau, or the cozy table at the Golden Dragon or Salvatore’s where he remembered his first name was Ken.

10#s may come.  10#s may go.  But we feasted on the Bread of Life these past three years, community bound and binding closer together, grief and joy mingled as sweet new wine.  And for all the joy we shared at our table, I will never regret how strong my spirit stands this day.  I guess you might say my soul is 10#s heavier.  And that makes everything fit just a little bit better.

Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.  Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.        Proverbs 24:13-14

Don’t be afraid of the different seasons, Favored One.  It’s okay to carry some extra weight on your body because you needed to feed your soul.  If anything should be fed well, it’s your soul.  Let’s keep company together here, breaking bread and pouring the wine.  And who knows?  Maybe next time you’re in town you’ll lace up your Mazuno’s and pound out a few footsteps to BenFoldsFive with me?

What areas are you feeding well in your life now?  What areas are hungry?

9 thoughts on “10 Pounds Heavy

  1. Dana Brown Ritter

    “Don’t be afraid of the different seasons, Favored One. It’s okay to carry some extra weight on your body because you needed to feed your soul,”

    Oh, Tobi, the wisdom! Thank you for this word!! For me, it’s 2am Taco Bell runs after presidential debates, and Boston Cream donuts served on campaign buses. Junk kept me going when I had to work, but had nothing left.

    Since November, I’ve lost 12 lbs and I still have a ways to go. It’s exciting – the changing of seasons. But, oh how important it is to see the beauty and God’s hand in each and every single one.

    I love you!

    1. tobibenton Post author

      And I would wager, in 20 years when you have loved ones gathered around, you won’t regret a single Taco Bell run or donut from a bus. Who will have lived your life to tell a better story than presidential debates and campaign buses. Or maybe, even today there’s no regret! Oh what a lovely one you are, Dana. I’m so excited for the new stage God has opened to you and Michael. Bummed a little for me. I was looking forward to some good coffee dates! I’m proud of you for 12 lbs lost! Girl! You did that over the holidays, job searched and prepared for a move!! Yes, we only live to one day opening and closing at a time. It is good to see the richness of that.

      I love you, too!

  2. Amy Tilson

    Tobi,
    I believe I do know the sweater to which you are referring. I will lace up my Mizunos – they are white, silver and pink – but I don’t run. I will walk laps around the inside of that mall as we catch up after a light healthy lunch on a Tuesday. Or we can just sit, grab a cupcake and a good cup of coffee and enjoy life together! I’m good with either. 🙂

    1. tobibenton Post author

      How about a compromise? A salad, coffee … and just a cozy chat. Maybe too many people to navigate and maintain a train of thought for me. 🙂 It’s going to be February before I can, but let’s get it on the calendar! Can’t wait!

    1. tobibenton Post author

      I’m glad today’s words gave you a hug! I’m having to learn to be gentle with myself and look to what real beauty is as I age through all of life’s stages. Blessings, Mary!

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