There’s a water wars going on out there.  Zyphyrhills, Aquafina, Dasani, Nestle, Evian, Fiji, SmartWater, not to mention the countless other no-name brands. What’s the big deal?  I mean, come on. It’s water!

In the fitness industry, one of the basics we talk to everyone about—because everyone seems to neglect it—is how much water they drink.  Most people—and yes, that probably means you—never drink enough water. We drink tea, coffee, soda, juice, alcohol, and Monster (uck!).  And because of that we are perpetually dehydrated.

I carry a bottled water everywhere. I drink extra water when I exercise. I keep a bottle on my bedside table because I always wake up thirsty.  Inspite of all that and the fact that I’m a fitness professional and I know better, oftentimes I still don’t drink enough water. Truth is, if you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  And since our brains are made up of 75% water, our blood 83% and our lungs 90%, it’s kinda important that we keep our tanks full.

But this blog isn’t about water, not the liquid kind anyway.

I’ve been going through some major life challenges.  God is chipping away at the sculpture that he’s making of me and I feel every point of the chisel and every tap of the hammer. One of the revelations he’s made clear to me is how “dehydrated” I’ve been lately.  Well, not lately.  Really for a very long time.  Since I was a kid actually.

Now I’m not going to make this a sob story, but a little backstory is necessary.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m a notorious people-pleaser. I think it’s actually quite difficult to live in our present day society and not be a people-pleaser to some degree.  Well, I’ve majored in it.  A BA-S degree (Bachelor of Approval-Seeking) from the University of Dysfunctionality.  I’m an actor, a writer, and a performer, for crying out loud.  I know we all want to hear the applause.  We live for it.  It validates us.

But that kind of validation is like drinking a full-on 100%-sugar, old-fashioned, glass-bottled, ice-cold Coca-Cola.  It’s heavenly on the tongue, but you’re thirsty again in like two minutes.  So you gotta drink some more.  And some more.  You start drinking it whenever you can.  For breakfast with your pancakes or late night with your ice cream.  Always needing more because it taste so good.  If you run out of it, you have to run to the store to get some more.  You’ll charge it on a credit card (paying interest on it for the next five years) just to keep a ready supply.  And then one day you wake up and you realize you’re addicted to it.

That was me–no, correction–that is me.  I realized that I’m addicted to other people’s approval.  I crave it like soda. Always needing more and always left wanting because it doesn’t completely satisfy.

As an athlete, I know only water really slackens my thirst and today, sitting in the library staring at the generic water bottle in my hand, it hit me that while the soda is like those pats on the back and that “great job” I receive from others, water–unsweetened, uncarbonated, and unaltered–is like God’s approval. 

It’s so simple.  So unadulterated.  So easy.  How did I miss it? Because I bought into all the marketing.  I bought into all the lies.  I bought into all the advertising that this was going to make me happy, this was going to fill me up even when my body and mind were telling me otherwise.  It tasted so good.  It felt so good going down.  Why didn’t I see the constant need for more as a sign that something was wrong?

Now please don’t think I’m trying to equate the soda companies with Satan (well, maybe that comparison isn’t so far off), but in truth, that Chief Conniver has been trying to sell me a package of goods for years and I’ve been buying it lock-stock-and-barrel since I was a kid.  He has made a living (and a killing) off of my need. 

So what’s the solution? I don’t know.  I’m just figuring all this out as I go. 

But I think I know where I’m going to start.  First, I’m going to listen to my body and soul, and recognize that the approval of others doesn’t satisfy me. Just the opposite–it only leaves me wanting more.  And more.  And more.

Second, I want to stop buying into the lies.  Stop running after them.  I’m spinning my wheels in the mud and going nowhere.

Third, I want to replace the drug that leaves me empty with the only thing that does quench my thirst for love, validation, and approval—water.  Real water.  Lasting water.  Jesus said, “Anyone who comes to me…will never be thirsty.”

Why did God cover the earth with 70% water?  Why does he call for water in baptism to spiritually cleanse us? Why do we equate water as a sign of life on other planets? I think God has been trying to get my attention my whole life.  And it was right in front of me the whole time.  Every time I turn on the tap to wash the dishes or take a shower or brush my teeth.  It’s right there, just like he’s right there.  It’s everywhere.  He’s everywhere.  It’s the only thing that quenches my thirst just as he’s the only one.

So now that I know, how do I change?

One sip at a time. Just like I carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go, I always have God’s attention (he’s a very attentive audience). I need to drink of his approval.  He’s always waiting to give me a high-five or an “at-a-girl” or a “well-done, good and faithful servant”. And truth be told, that kind of drink tastes way better than Mountain Dew or Red Bull or (gag) Diet Coke.

As a friend recently said, there really is freedom in performing for an audience of One.