Fat. We are all familiar with it. We all have it. And if you are a middle-aged woman during swimsuit season, I would suspect that you want less of it. Oh the pleasure of the iridescent lighting from the dressing room mirrors that reveal fat in places I didn’t even know could jiggle! Belly bulge and bingo arms aside, we have fat in other areas of our lives too. The excess. The unflattering. The ‘wanna cover it up whenever possible’.
We want to either get rid of that unsightly stuff or we want to change it into something more useful. With respect to our bodies, we can all rationally decide how to handle our fat. It’s pretty simple really… we decrease our caloric intake and increase our activity levels and positive change will come. It won’t be easy and we will be tempted but we know what to do to accomplish results. But what if the fat that needs to be trimmed in our lives isn’t so literal? What if it is people? People that weigh you down with their negativity or hold you back because of their attitudes. What new fad diet can solve that type of fat?
The concept of “everything in moderation” may be the easiest answer to how to cope with those challenging people in our lives. It is often our family members, that crazy friend we all have, your colleagues at work, or maybe even your boss or your parents that represent the unflattering excess. Trimming that fat may not be an option. While you can certainly limit your exposure to these folks, odds are that they are a permanent part of your life. So just like that stubborn mid-section, you tone it instead.
Atonement is a powerful way to make amends with God for your sins and this type of toning is where we must begin to strengthen the relationships in our lives. It is quite possible that we are considered as the “fat to trim” in someone else’s life, so this first step is essential to our emotional health. Once we are in tune to the ways we may negatively impact others through our selfish actions or our judgemental comments, we can then look at those unflattering qualities in others with a new and more gracious and forgiving perspective.
Building others up instead of tearing them down gives us a pretty great relationship workout, I would say. Consider the impact you will have with just a few repetitions of lifting! The simplicity is staggering. Acknowledge and applaud the people who bring you challenge — not in a patronizing way, but with a genuine recognition of the unique gifts they bring to the world. Maybe they are not perfect in the delivery of their gifts with the world, but their gifts still have value. Since we are called to love everyone and forgive everyone, why not work it out with those stubborn souls now. Encourage. Lift. Tone. And eventually they will be able to see the positive qualities in others the way you have taught them to see themselves. Only then can they have atonement and become lifters too.
“If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord. Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head. Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.”
~ Romans 12:18-21