I began a three-part series in January on why, as First Place 4 Health members, we are better together. I am using the ABC’s as a guide and last month the A was for accountability. If you didn’t read the article, you can access it in our E-Newsletter archives.
B = Belonging
This month I want to talk about the B of why we are better together. The dictionary describes the word belonging as a “close or intimate relationship,” and that is what should happen for members of a First Place 4 Health class.
When I came to know Jesus personally at the age of twelve, I immediately had a sense of belonging. Even as a twelve year old, I could tell the difference when I read my Bible or prayed. I now understood the Scriptures and knew my prayers were being heard. People who don’t have a personal walk with Christ have a hard time understanding the Bible or knowing how to pray.
This group of people who join a First Place 4 Health class are people who do not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They know someone from work or maybe a neighbor who has told them about their FP4H class. These people come strictly to lose weight, but find a love and acceptance they have never known before. This is why it is imperative that we welcome our “pre-Christian” friends and neighbors to come to our First Place 4 Health class. Those of us who already belong to Christ have the opportunity to love and accept the new member and help them learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Many men and women have made a decision to follow Christ because of the difference they see in the members of their FP4H class. When unconditional love and acceptance is shown we want to belong.
The second group of people who join a First Place 4 Health class are those who know Christ personally, but they have deep wounds from past pain and hurt. Their excess weight is like a wall built to keep out pain. This is what I love best about the FP4H program; we realize that we all have problems and past hurts and we come together to find balance and heal our hearts. I never found this kind of love and transparency until I came into First Place 4 Health. We can be gut-level honest with our classmates, knowing that they will pray and never breathe a word to anyone outside of our class. When this happens, our emotional walls begin to crumble and God is able to heal our wounded hearts.
The third group of people who join a First Place 4 Health class are those who are struggling to lose weight. Most of these men and women have lost weight before but seem to always gain it back again. They love eating and have developed an unhealthy relationship with food. The people in a FP4H group bond quickly and we find that we have a group of people who are cheering us on to victory. A lady told me once that her class members were more excited about her weight loss than they were their own. This lady had a lot of weight to lose and she inspired her class members by her perseverance and discipline. Her success was a source of encouragement for the rest of the class.
Those who have left their FP4H class and gained weight always know they are welcome when they return and will experience the same sense of belonging they knew before.
The fourth group of people who join a First Place 4 Health class are those who have reached their weight loss goal, but want to stay because they have found a group where they truly belong. One of my members told me, “I give an hour a week because I never want to gain the weight back again. I have made lifetime friends in this class.”
So the feeling of belonging is important to us all and there is no better place to experience the joy of belonging than in a First Place 4 Health class.
Next month I will talk about the C of why we are Better Together, Commitment.
When Carole attended the First Place orientation in March of 1981, she eagerly anticipated what God might want to do in her life. She had recently seen an old friend that looked great and who reminded her that they were soon approaching 40 years old. Carole determined she did not want to be “fat and 40.” She joined First Place and soon lost 20 pounds. Learning how to bring balance to her life, she became a First Place leader to motivate others to achieve this goal.
Carole is a popular speaker and author of the books, Choosing to Change, First Place 4 Health, Today Is the First Day, Living Well, Back on Track, A Thankful Heart, Stop it, The Divine Diet, and Mother/Daughter Legacy. Carole regularly leads Conferences, Wellness Weeks, Change Your Life Events and seminars across the country in the areas of personal balance, fitness, encouragement and temperament analysis. Her audiences know her as warm, honest and humorous.