“Do I look fatter?” I planted myself directly in front of my husband, half dressed in leggings and a bra, and posed this very tricky question.
“Do you look fatter?” His eyes widened and he repeated my own words, apparently so I could hear myself ask such a ridiculous question. And then he avoided answering it. “Why are you asking me this?”
Why? I’ll tell you why. Because last weekend, after nearly a month of kickboxing and weightlifting and strength conditioning classes—which do not come easily to me—I did something really, really dumb. I stepped on the scale. And can you imagine my horror when I saw a number I have not seen since I was pregnant.
What??? That is not what was supposed to happen! The scale was supposed to move in the opposite direction! Forget this working out crap. I’m going back to sitting on my duff with a bag of cheesy popcorn.
“No,” he said. “You do not look fatter.”
“Well then why did the scale go up?” I whined.
“You’re building muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I can see it.”
“You can see it? Where?”
I pivoted on my ankle and gave him full view of my backside. My husband glanced at my tush while I tried craning my neck to see what he was looking at. Incidentally, it is impossible to view one’s own behind, ladies. Perhaps this is why he had noticed something I hadn’t.
“You’re lifting,” he nodded. “You’re gaining muscle where you’ve never had muscle before.”
Ummm… thank you?
“Don’t look at the scale,” my husband said. “The scale lies.”
Ah. The scale lies.
In other words, the measure by which I am judging my success or failure may not be reliable. It’s not an accurate assessment of what’s really going on inside and outside my body. My husband detected the start of a toned gluteus maximus, chiseled calves, firmer biceps.
And I was fixated on a number.
Kind of short-sighted, right?
Yet we all do this, all the time.
What challenges are you facing right now? What struggle are you standing in the middle of? When you look around at your circumstances, do they seem bleak? Make no sense? Are you hurting and stressed and wondering how in the world you’ll get through this?
Of course you are. Because you’re looking at the wrong thing.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
Circumstances lie. Just like my scale—they put some parameters around your present condition but they cannot possibly explain how God is working within you and through you to create something better, something stronger. So what if you can’t see it—I can’t see my own derriere, either, but that doesn’t mean my workouts aren’t producing a positive result, which the scale cannot describe.
So rather than staring at the limitations surrounding you, try focusing on the One who is not confined by those circumstances. He “causes all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28). You can choose to believe that or not.
Misery or hope. It’s always up to us.
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT).
I returned to my fitness class yesterday morning, and I did the hard work. I sweated through lunges and squats and kettle bell swings. And when I got home and hopped on the scale (again, dumb), no lie—it was even higher than last time.
But I’m choosing not to care.
Because the scale lies.
And so do your circumstances.
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT).