All Eyes On Me

Sometimes, I think about Jameer Nelson.

It’s okay if you don’t know who he is. He had a better than average career in the NBA that fizzled out slowly over time.

If my memory serves me right, he made the NBA Finals only once in his career. Actually, I know exactly when; it was 2009, I remember because he lost to Kobe Bryant and my favorite team. 🙂 Nevertheless, I remember that particular championship series for more than just my team winning.

What is etched in my memory about him is his famous tattoo. One of the most memorable tattoos in the NBA. On his back, from shoulder to shoulder are the words ”All eyes on me.”

A big tattoo with bold words.

The tattoo is a tribute to 2Pac and also Nelson’s belief in himself. Nelson was never a great player per se. He was never even the best player on any team. Yet still, he believed that all eyes were on him.

. . . . . . .

Not too long ago as I was preparing for my road trip, my friend Emily told me in a serious tone, I need to be very careful calling myself a Christian. She informed me that many people don’t like Christians.

“It’s not your fault, you’re fine.” Emily said to me, “But Christians don’t really make a good name for themselves. And you are associating yourself with them. People are going to watch you closer because of that title.”

It reminds me of another friend, Sarah. Sarah’s great, but she hates chiropractors. She hates chiropractors like a city person hates the country life. She’s never experienced it first hand, she won’t listen to why someone loves living in the countryside, and she’ll never get close enough to learn more about it. She says she’ll never go to a chiropractor because “chiropractors believe in weird things that aren’t right!”

They believe in weird things?

Apparently, she was talking about the chiropractors who believe they can help fight the flu, sinus issues, and other various ailments of the body by adjusting the spine.

Is that weird? We live in an era where we can stand in front of a mysterious box that shoots invisible waves into the body and kills tumors inside. I’m just going to say we’ve come far in medicine, I’m not sure if there are weird ideas that can’t find their way to existence.
I digress.

I’ve gone to chiropractors all my life in different states and countries, yet I have never heard a single chiropractor say that to me. I don’t know if it’s true, but to be honest, I would be inclined to believe it! Every time I get a cold, there is one spot in my spine that starts to hurt just a bit. Each time I feel that pain, I know I need to start drinking more water and take some vitamin C because a cold is coming.

Despite never hearing from the horses’ mouths about these chiropractic wonders, there are apparently a few out there who have said it enough times to negatively affect people. People who’ve never directly heard them say it or experienced it for themselves no longer want to seek chiropractic care of any kind.

I’m no chiropractor, but it seems like there are a few ruining it for the rest of them.

. . . . . . .

I’m going to bring up a former coworker and continue with the long way ‘round to my point.

This coworker learned that I was a Christian and assumed a lot about me. He was probably, one of the most closed-minded persons I’ve ever met. He had this idea that all Christians were the same, had a cookie-cutter upbringing, and believed the exact same things across the world.

Despite me being the Christian, he knew more hymns than I do. He would sing them regularly to mock my faith.

Despite me being the Christian, he was well versed in church history and would demand I apologize to him directly for things like the Crusades, Christian slave owners, and Christian white supremacists.

Despite me being the Christian, he was the one who believed in numerology and had fears of numbers like “666” and was surprised whenever I was chill about the numbers popping up.

Funny how that happened.

. . . . . . .

Listen, I get it. I really do. Christians haven’t been the best people in the world throughout history. Heck, Christians haven’t even the best people during my lifetime. There’s a reason why Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, but your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Ouch, tell me how you really feel.

Then again, Gandhi wasn’t perfect either. There are plenty of stories about his troubled life. Other religions, nations, scientists, literally any group of people with any time of history weren’t perfect.

Apparently, chiropractors aren’t perfect either.

I believe in the work that chiropractors do. I’ve been going all my life. I’ve been to enough chiropractors around the world to know they aren’t all good at their job. Yet, I still go to them for help because I know I need it.

Unfortunately, instead of letting the individual practitioners each show their knowledge, skills, and helpfulness, people from the general public refuse to go to them. They rather stay away because they heard once, from a friend of a friend, that one of them, somewhere, believed they can help people even more through a different method.

Curse them for trying to be more helpful in a new way, right?

Chiropractors are stuck in a predicament. What should a regular chiropractor who is helping people do?

Should they stop helping people with their spine adjustments?

Should they stop calling themselves a chiropractor in hope that people will see they are not like the others?

. . . . . .

I’ll be honest, I tried that last method for a while.

I was tired of all of it.

Tired of the Christians who protest funerals of fallen soldiers.
Tired of the Christians who believe every Republican candidate is the new Lord and Savior ready to redeem them.
Tired of the Christians who said, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.” (I’m not even sure what that means!)

So I stopped calling myself a Christian.

I felt trendy and edgy. I was the “Christian who wasn’t a Christian.” I was going to change the perspective of Christians by no longer being called one. Let them fix their own problems, then maybe I’ll be called that name again.

I can’t remember how long I did this. It was long enough to realize, the problem at the end of my trend wasn’t the name. It was me. No matter what I called myself, I was still making decisions that made other Christians and non-Chrisitan question my belief.

Hundreds of years ago, there was a belief in the Christian faith that you had to look perfect in order to bring yourself to God. Priests and pastors alike who dress in the finest of clothing to ensure they were representing God well enough.

That line of thought led masses of people to believe they need to “clean themselves up” before coming to God. That God wouldn’t want someone like them because they were too dirty, too messy, too unlike what they were seeing from the Church.

Thankfully, some churches have matured since then. If God wanted someone perfect to represent him, he wouldn’t choose me. He wouldn’t choose any human. We’re imperfect.

And that’s kind of the point.

Why did God have three murders write the majority of the Bible?
Why did God have a prostitute listed as one of the greatest persons of faith?
Why did God allow two men who constantly squabbled with each other to be his famous disciples?

Because those are the people he chose. Murderers, prostitutes, testosterone filled man-children, those are the people He wants. Those are the people Jesus hung out with when he was on Earth.

Those people are God’s kind of people

God is trying to say, “Hey, I’ll take them, I’ll take you, I’ll take anybody. Literally, anybody.” That’s the point.

. . . . . .

I appreciate Emily trying to protect me from people who don’t want to associate with Christians. Just like chiropractors, I’m not going to change everything I say I am just because a few of them are messing it up for the rest of us.

If people should want to focus on me because I’m a man of faith let them.

Let them see me struggle and fail, time and time again.
Let them see me get back up after each failure.
Let them see me try, and try again, despite my consistent flaws and poor habits.

Let them place their eyes on me and watch my life.
Let them see how I live, how imperfect I am.
Let them understand that God will take anybody.

Even me.
Even them.

How to Sustainably Change

It was over my first summer in Colorado was a big one!

It was 2015! I was making new friends in my new home. The last good season of Game of Thrones just came out. And I decided I was going to change my body to be the more fit version of itself.

At the time, I was 235 pounds (106.6kg), and not thrilled about it. That summer I decided things were going to change! I started eating fish and rice for the majority of my meals, and biking to work every day. Thankfully, I had a friend that worked with me who could pick me up at work, or drop me off so I only needed to bike one way!

It was a major overhaul.

It felt like it was happening overnight. I was losing so much, it was great! I was living that #fitlife. I was surprised that my cold turkey method and just changing things drastically worked. I lost 50 pounds (22.7) in those warm months. Chillin at 185lbs (83.9kg), I was a happy camper!

I of course wanted to lose more, but I was proud of how far I had come. Losing that much takes a considerable amount of effort. It was time to celebrate my achievement!!

Unfortunately, despite my consistent trips to the gym (especially the sauna), I didn’t make my goal weight. I didn’t even stay at the new weight I just made it too. I eventually found my way to about 205lbs (93kg) and stayed there for the rest of my Colorado life.

I mean, technically I still lost 30 pounds, so that’s good enough, right?

_____________________

When I left Colorado, I decided that I was going to change my lifestyle, sustainably. I wanted to keep whatever changes that I made to my life.

When it came to my health and weight, I decided that I was going to make small changes every couple of weeks or month not all at once. Then I’d stick to those changes for as long as I could, ideally for life.

Change 1: Stop eating when I feel a little bit full.
Can we admit that we don’t stop eating until we fill completely full. Sometimes, you keep eating until you literally can’t and you feel gloriously gross while sitting at the dining table! Yeah, I’ve conquered plenty of all-you-can-eat buffets before. So I decided that as soon as I feel even a little bit of the sensation of being full. I would stop eating.
Oddly enough, I didn’t die of hunger!

Change 2: If I could walk or bike there in under an hour, do it.
When I moved to New Zealand, I didn’t have a car for a while. I was trying to see as much as I could, and soak in the sights. Full disclosure, I was okay with this plan because previously, I wasn’t a huge fan of bus transportation. Also, bus fares are not cheap here and THEY WOULD’NT ACCEPT MY OLD STUDENT ID as a valid to get the student discount.
I admit, it was hard! Walking long distances, riding up ridiculous hills, but after a month of it, I started to prefer it! If it’s raining, ride fast, if it’s windy, walk sturdy, and if it’s sunny, enjoy it! I do take the bus now, and I do drive my car from time to time, but if it’s decent enough weather, and within an hour’s ride, I’ll take my bike.

Change 3: Change what I eating. Goodbye bread, cheese, fried food. Hello apples, peanut butter and veggies.
I’m not much of a snacking kind of person, but I was getting hungry more often from not eating as much and from all the walking and biking. So, if I wanted to eat something, I didn’t want to pop on in to my local Macca’s (McDonalds) for a burger and fries. Instead, I’d chow on an apple and peanut butter, or pour myself a nice bowl of oatmeal.
Admittedly, when I go out, I don’t mind having bread or cheese on my plate. I try to avoid fried food still, but I’m not hyper strict about it. But now, I daily make fruit smoothies, and one of my flatmates says he sees me eat more vegetables than anything else on my plate for the majority of my meals. I’m okay with that.

Change 4: Exercising. In my opinion, riding my bike to church isn’t exercising and going out for a hike is not exercising. Exercising is exercising.
I haven’t joined a gym yet, but I decided that after nearly 5 months of these changes, I should add an exercising routine to my life. 7 days a week I work out. 3 days a week, I go for a run. Sometimes it’s a short 1km to a local park and back. Other times it’s a solid 10k, running home after a morning downtown. The other days of the week, I’m spending 10-15 min doing core workouts, pushups, and sit ups. It’s not a heavy workout by any means, but it’s a solid sustainable start.
Going on walks and bike rides are good for me. However, making the time to actually exercise, (intentionally moving my body with the purpose of strengthening) pays off in different dividends than walking or biking around.

_____________________

These changes happened over time and now I think of them as my daily routine. It’s just my life. I only have this body for a few years, why not keep it in decent running shape? Today, I’m sitting at 173 pounds (78.5kgs). A 40 pound difference from my last days Colorado. Pretty happy with my progress. I have a few more changes in mind that I’ll do in the near future once I have these changes engrained in my life.

I fully believe that one of the main reason why I’ve been able to change is because it’s been sustainable. Small changes over time, make big differences. Because I’m a sports type of guy: I like to think of a 1 degree difference on the putting green doesn’t make a difference. But a 1 degree difference from the tee, is a major alteration in where the ball lands. (For my non sports friends, small changes change who you are over time.)

We’re all going to change. It’s inevitable. Why not commit to small changes now so you can control where you go next?