I subscribe to Google alerts and received one today that was a blog from a FP4H member. I have no idea where this group meets, but thought her post was worth a discussion in our E-Newsletter. This group is doing the FP4H Bible Study Walking in Grace and this member did a study on the word “grace,” which then initiated her post:
I returned to the First Place 4 Health Bible study and support group after having been absent for over a year. The core group of women was still present, as well as several new enrollees. While listening to several of the core members, I realized one was still discussing the same issue—how to keep from going to Starbucks for mocha lattes. For the three years she had been with us in the group, she was still struggling with mocha lattes. She had lost no weight over the course of the three years. To my horror, the ladies laughed it off and then began talking about other unhealthy snacks they preferred. The answer from the leader, “Well, we’ll just have to pray for you this week.”
Where is grace in that? The member should have been confronted about how she was taking the FP4H commitments and making them a mockery. She should have been given a plan for having success in making better choices that involved her husband and children to help hold her accountable. How was extending more grace influencing the new members to put off the unhealthy habits that created the fat rolls and put on healthy habits instead? It created instead a loophole for those new members. “When I consistently make wrong choices, there will be more grace extended to me,” is what they will begin to believe. In AA circles this is called “enabling the addict.”
Our FP4H group should attend some AA meetings. If an alcoholic were to confess that they struggled with going through the drive-through to purchase wine coolers, the AA leader and the other members would spend a large amount of time confronting that member and coming up with a plan for more accountability. How do I know that? I used to attend 2-3 AA meetings a week and witnessed several times how weak members were confronted about their choices. No grace. They were rebuked, instructed in the rules of AA, and offered help to be victorious one day at a time. Why should we women who make FP4H commitments to eat healthy and follow the “Live It plan” be treated any differently? Come on, FP4H friends—stop using grace as an excuse for bad behavior!
Here is my reply to her post:
I am not writing as the director of the First Place 4 Health program, but as a FP4H leader who has been leading for 30 years. As such, I surely understand the frustration of the blogger. The problem here is that the group feels free to share their rebellion to the class instead of humbly asking for prayer. My class would never feel free to make those comments in class because I, as the leader, would never wink at such comments.
That said, however, I am a grace giver because God has shown so much mercy and grace to me. I also have no power to make someone change anything. I have these women one hour a week, but for the next seven days they have to do the hard work of change
I believe success is a 3-step plan: 1) God will give me the strength to say no if I ask Him. 2) Others will encourage and support me in my efforts. 3) I have to do the hard work. No one has arrived and everyone is susceptible to falling; this is why we need to show love and grace. I have heard grace defined as "unmerited favor" and this is what I desire to show to my class members. I believe that unconditional love, the kind of love that God shows me, is what will win hearts over all the legalism in the world.
I was in Illinois last weekend and I heard a testimony that said it all for me. A lady said that when she came to our FP4H Wellness Week last year, she was walking with a cane. She never did any exercise because she could barely walk. At the end of the week she lost 9 pounds and went home to join a FP4H group. Her cholesterol and blood pressure were so high that she was unable to obtain health insurance because of her high risk. Today, a year later, she has lost 40 pounds. Although not quite at her goal, her cholesterol is 168; her blood pressure 120/80 and she now has health insurance. She shared that she still had not exercised at all, but a family member gave her a bicycle with training wheels and she is riding that bike every day!
Success is in the process, not in a program. I think it would help if your group would watch the emotional mapping DVD. I showed 20 minutes each week for three weeks and for those willing to actually do the mapping, I put their names in a basket and drew one out each week for a prize. I saw tremendous strides, and some ladies started losing weight that had really been struggling.
What I love most about FP4H is that we deal with the total person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. God created us this way and Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31 that the greatest commandment is "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is this, love your neighbor as yourself." It has been hard, but I am learning that obedience is the love language of God. He says all through His Word, “If you love me, you will obey me.”
I believe my job as a FP4H leader is to love my members so much that they realize God loves them even more than I do and they want to obey Him because they love Him. Any other motive is doomed to failure.
What do you think?