ArticlesJanice Crow

Janice Crow : “Towels Are Not For Throwin'”

Towels are Not for Throwin’

To say that these days I struggle with my weight would be true…and not true.  True, because I have dealt with, at various times,  an excess of fluffy baggage…but not true because “struggle” implies a fight…some battle of epic proportions that takes place to determine a clear winner…or loser.  To most folks, I probably look like I just surrendered, and I’ll admit at times I have not been as circumspect as I ought.  Not at all.

I tried various things.  I did join Weight Watchers once.  I gained four pounds.  I read their manual.  I attended some meetings, but I’m not much of a “joiner-inner”, and all the “rah rah rah” every time somebody lost six ounces seemed disingenuous and futile.  And, yes, there was that one time I was late to Weight Watchers because I was polishing off a sandwich in the parking lot. Do I get points for the fries I left in the bag?   And there’s the time  I do remember sizing up two different packages of fudge to see which one would be easier to slide under the sofa.    

Of course, there were the clandestine parking lot maneuvers where you start to pull into a vacant area of a lot to scarf down whatever you’re not supposed to be eating, only to find someone else already in your hide-away, scarfing down whatever they’re not supposed to be eating.  You glare at each other. How dare you park in my hiding place!   Go home! Your husband’s looking for you.

I craved dining alone because no one was there to witness the gastronomical crimes.  I did eat salads, of course, which everyone knows is just a vehicle to eat a tub of ranch dressing, but I ordered it on the side, so that’s different, right?

How embarrassing to have to admit!  And I know right when it happened.  Read on. 

 When I was young,   I fought.   I fought hard.   I would go all day long without eating anything at all until that night’s concert was over and then head to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, the late-night spot,  with everybody else.  I would exercise until I could barely stand, go all day again with no food, and start the whole process over.  At one point I was dieting so zealously my hair started falling out and you could see the impression of my bones through my clothes. My cousin claimed he’d been cut by my sharp bony elbow.  I just chalked that up to his usual hyperbole.                                     

 Well, sooner or later I was able to get on an even keel and eat a more healthy diet, exercise less like a maniac, and gather some understanding of normal health practices.  I was able to maintain that balance for a good twenty years or so. 

Then one day the wheels fell off…in the opposite direction.  You know, those times when it’s clear that what you’ve hoped for, what you’ve prayed for,  what you’ve dreamed of,  is never, ever coming to pass.  Your life has gone off the script you’d written in your head and you  don’t know what to do next.

I remember that day.  I had made a nine-hour trip alone just to have the biggest disappointment of my life, up to that time anyway,  and was facing a nine-hour broken-hearted return trip.  I was not just devastated and disappointed in people, but in God as well.  How could He let this happen?  

I could take you to the place where I threw in the towel on me, on God, on life.  It was a rest stop on I-24 just this side of Nickajack Dam.  I had crossed the lake, scary on a sunshiny day, in a harrowing thunderstorm, and pulled in to try to wait out the blinding rain and pull myself together.  I had cried until my eyes burned like fire and something inside me just snapped.  I went into the rest stop and came out with two or three sodas, a couple of bags of chips, a  candy bar or two, and a new determination to not care about anything.  So armed with my self-destructive paraphernalia, I headed back home, and none of those chips were bigger than the one I had on my shoulder.   

I had a bad case of “who cares” for a long, long time.  That’s problematic when you’re raising kids and you want them to care…care about life, care about others, and mostly care about God.  It’s hard to be a cheerleader for someone else when you yourself feel like a phony.   So I buried my disappointment, my grief, my “lostness”, my frustration, and began to dig my grave with a spoon. And so it went, caring less, eating more, and my life seemed like a runaway milk train.

How embarrassing to backslide from someone who cared so much to someone who didn’t care at all.  I’m ashamed even now, and even though I’m way better, I still deal with the health consequences of my old careless ways.

There are many things that I understand now that I wish I had understood then, and one of those things is that towels are not for throwing.  Towels are for serving.

We all know the story of The Last Supper where in the 13th chapter of John (NIV) it says about Jesus:  “He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

Here was Jesus, knowing that shortly He would be betrayed, arrested, and condemned to die on a cross for no wrong He had done, and yet His last deeds were deeds of service to those He loved.  The dread of the Cross did not keep Him from demonstrating His great love and showing an example to them, and us, of what service looks like.  That’s how He used His towel.

There is no way on earth I will ever compare any hardships I have ever had with the suffering of Christ; but our lives down here seem fraught with problems,  heartaches,  rejections,  disappointments….things that bring only more questions, not answers.    

I wish I had understood the principle back then of using my towel, not for throwing in, but for throwing out….using my life experiences, my hurts,  as a means to throw a lifeline to someone else…to serve them,  to help pull them out of the black waters choking them like they had been choking me….to wash the feet of someone else.     I think I would have found freedom sooner.  And guess what!  God had a better plan than I could have ever dreamed up.  My script was so inferior. 

Not long ago I had another opportunity to throw in the towel, but a friend was there with her towel and washed my spiritual feet with her kindness and love.  It made all the difference in the world.  Maybe you feel like throwing in the towel, too.  Don’t do it.  There is life after heartache, and I’m so glad Jesus didn’t throw in the towel on me.  So glad.

Staff writer Janice Crow – Singer – Songwriter

Janice Crow

Janice Crow is an accomplished singer/songwriter.
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