My dad went bald at 16, well that’s at least what he told me. So, when I made it into my twenties with a full head of hair I thought I was safe.

Apparently, I am not.

A couple of months ago I looked into one of those double mirror things and saw a giant bald spot. At first, I thought it must have been someone else’s head, but it soon dawned on me that I was actually looking at my own head. It was devastating. I have been shaving my head every couple weeks since then.

The hardest part about seeing my bald spot was that I never expected to go bald. I thought that because I had made it past the point that my dad went bald that I was safe. I legitimately thought that the gene would skip me and that I would be like those models for Just For Men or Touch of Grey, a full haired 55 year old super athletic guy. Everyone knows that the amount of hair one has determines their athletic prowess.

I realized this week that I do that a lot; determine other people’s athletic prowess by their hair cut.

I also often think that nothing bad will ever happen to me and then become shocked when trouble inevitably arises. I never realized how bad that shock was until this week.

This week marks the end of the fourth week of the New Year and my fourth week of trying to be healthier. I spent the first three weeks solely focused on eating right. I cut out all drinks besides coffee and water. I significantly reduced my caloric intake, or I thought I did. I replaced all my snacks with oranges and bananas. I try to eat only a salad for lunch and replaced eggs with egg whites. In 2 weeks I had lost 10 pounds!

I was doing it! I was on my way to accomplishing my task of being healthier!

Then the third week came. I stupidly weighed myself in the middle of the week and saw that I had gained weight. I wracked my brain trying to think of what I had done wrong and came up with nothing tangible.

Instead of having the logical thought that I should start adding working out into my routine or that it was the middle of the week and weight fluctuates during the week let alone the day, I freaked out and thought it was all useless. I started to crack and instead of having an orange for a snack I ate a handful of pistachios, which would turn into 4 handfuls and I wouldn’t record them. By the end of the week I was basically freewheeling it and had pizza on Sunday night after eating Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios for lunch. It went south fast. That’s the problem with working toward a goal, its never as easy as we anticipate or as fast as we want.

My wife loves Romantic comedy movies. Typically, in those movies the protagonist must overcome a hurdle to get their love interests’ affection. Once the hurdle is overcome the two people realize they are meant to be together and happiness ensues. Life does not work like this. In real life two people fall in love and then spend the rest of their lives trying to figure out how to do this thing called marriage. Its messy and you will find yourself having some of the stupidest fights humanly possible. There will be thousands of hurdles to overcome and it requires a daily commitment to keep fighting for it.

If my life was a movie my struggle with the gym would be resolved in a music montage. In the background, would play some heroic violin music while shots of me doing pushups and sit-ups flashed across the screen. What would take months to accomplish finishes in less than 2 minutes and in the next scene I will be sitting at a dinner with my wife eating a cheeseburger with a ripped 6 pack of abs.

If only right?

Actually, I think we are better off with the way things are. There was pastor in 1920 named Lynn H. Hough, who was explaining some of Emmerson’s thoughts in a periodical called “The Christian Advocate”. In the periodical, he penned a quote that would later be attributed to Emmerson.

“Life is a journey and not a destination.”

Sometimes in life we get the destination confused with the journey. This happens to me a lot when it comes to working out and getting healthier. I find myself thinking about being thinner, wearing some of my old favorite shirts or having more stamina to run father. Those are destinations, they are results of the journey. The journey is me learning how to be healthier in a society where unhealthy food is so frequently offered to us on a platter. The journey teaches me the how while the destination shows me the why.

There will always be challenges when attempting a goal, the measure of success is how we respond to those challenges.

In the famous words of Pastor Yoda “Do or do not, there is no try”.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual Covenant pastor conference. I ran into one of the most important people in my life there Todd. Todd was easily one of the only reasons I graduated Seminary and one of my best friends. Together with his wife Erin, they showed me a kind of love that I was desperate for. They are good people and one of the first people I will share my inevitable lottery winnings with. (Come on Cryptocurrencies!)

The reason I bring Todd up is because in the last 6 months this man has lost an incredible 85lbs. He wears medium shirts now! Let that sink in for a second. I am pretty sure I could fit a medium shirt over my arm but that is about it.

When I saw Todd I was filled with a combination of jealousy, pride and joy. I spent the rest of the week bugging him for the secrets of his success. Like the amazing friend he is, he broke down all the different tactics he used to lose the weight. He even answered my page long texts the following week when I needed more information. I have been collecting this information and starting to implement it into my daily routine. However, I have come to a conclusion about Todd’s success and why its different than my own.

He persisted.

It is an inevitable fact that Todd was faced with hard days during his journey. I guarantee you that there was at least one day he was tempted to eat something he shouldn’t, or a day he had to bounce back after giving into temptation the night before. Yet he persisted.

Persistence is the key in all goals.

If in 2018 you set a goal for yourself; Persist.

Did you set out to spend more quality time with the Lord? Did you set out to be healthier? Did you set out to run a marathon or pay off debt? Persist.

Do not allow the guilt of previous failures prevent you from accomplishing that which you were called to. Persist.

Persist as those before us have persisted. Persist because you are worth it. Persist because you are loved.

As for me, I am going to persist. I am going to fight the urge for a cheap fix or immediate satisfaction and continue to fight for the journey.

I might just wait to start until after tonight’s game.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians  3: 12-14.

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