I’m a white, North American, heterosexual, university-educated, middle-class, Christian male in his late 20s. Life as we know it today has pretty much been designed to be super awesome for people who fit that description.
I get endless support from my family and friends, who love me unconditionally, which gives me another set of advantages some people don’t have.
It doesn’t mean I’m immune to doubt, fear, loneliness, anxiety and what have you, but it does mean that when I am struggling, I have access to resources and a support network that can help me get through it.
All of the above puts me in a powerful, privileged position that I can use to help others, which is an opportunity I do not want to waste it.
A Bible verse that I often think of, from Luke 12:48, says, “Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required.”
(Or, if you’re not down with JC, Uncle Ben puts it this way in the 2002 Spider-Man film: “With great power comes great responsibility.”)
In the fall of 2011, it occurred to me that I wasn’t living up to my end of the deal. In fact, I realized I was becoming an asshole.
I noticed it mostly at work. At the time, I was the managing editor at a small weekly newspaper, overseeing a staff of 14 people. I was often tired and irritable, which sometimes led to me being short with, and unkind to, my co-workers–the people I was supposed to be leading and inspiring to do their best possible work.
These people really cared about doing a great job and creating a quality newspaper week after week. They worked long hours for not a lot of money, while balancing other work and school commitments, not to mention whatever they had going on in their personal lives. I realized the last thing they needed was a J. Jonah Jameson-type editor breathing down their necks.
It’s entirely possible that I’m being too hard on myself when I say that I was becoming an asshole. It’s not like I was walking down the street, kicking puppies and scowling at newborn babies. And maybe my former co-workers would tell you a different story about my office demeanour.
But during stressful times at work, in certain small moments where the way you handle a situation really reveals a lot about your character, I didn’t like who I was becoming, or who I had become.
I was experiencing a malaise I couldn’t shake.
I suspected that my poor diet and lack of exercise might be two of the contributing factors to this malaise and resulting asshole-ishness, so that’s when I joined a gym and started to eat less and move more.
A few weeks ago, the owner/head trainer at the gym I go to sent out an email to all gym members that included a question, which was something along the lines of this:
What is your deep reason for wanting to get healthier?
I think he wanted people to identify their deep reason because he hoped it would motivate them to stick with their healthy eating and exercising routines.
My whole health and fitness journey started because of this deep reason: I do not want to be an asshole.
(I was also haunted at the time by visions of me dying of a heart attack at some absurdly young age, or at the very least, being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and then losing my right foot. And I like my right foot, you guys. I’m pretty fond of my left one, too.)
At some point last year, I developed a list of other deep reasons for why I am trying to get healthy. I even wrote them down on a recipe card and carried them around in my wallet for a time.
1. I want to honour the body God gave me.
2. I want good health so I can serve and be an encouragement to others.
3. I hope to get married someday. I want my wife to have a spouse she is attracted to and proud of–someone who wants to go out and not be sedentary.
4. God willing, I will be a father someday. I want to be able to keep up with my children, and I want to be a good example for them.
5. I want to keep pushing myself and testing my limits.
During the past few weeks, the results I’ve been seeing in terms of fat loss are what have kept me going.
But when things are more challenging and I lose sight of why I’m doing all of this, it’s helpful to pull out my recipe card and remind myself what my deep reasons are.
What are your deep reasons?