Here we go again. I’m having to re-establish healthy eating patterns. Again!
As I have been thinking of the positive changes that I am working toward, I’m reminded of the last time that I “let myself go” and needed to correct the way I was thinking about food.
What was it that clued me in to the need for change (then and now)? My muffin top was telling me so.
The muffin top was just a delayed outward signal of my inner struggles. The same inner struggles I had three years ago when I was working toward a healthier me have once again crept back into my heart and mind.
I tend to resist dealing with this problem until the pain of the consequences of poor choices outweighs my lazy, complacent attitude towards what I know to be right and my lack of self discipline to do it.
So, I’m re-learning, re-committing, and re-habituating myself to live in a way that not only honors the Lord but also helps me live with greater joy, confidence, and peace.
Through this process, the question came to mind:
If being a good steward of something as basic as food can impact my life and those I love in such a positive way, how can I look for ways to replicate this concept in my emotional, mental, and spiritual life?
Well, a few years ago when I buckled down and decided to banish the muffin top residing above the waist of my pants, I did what most of us ladies tend to do . . . I dug the scale out of the closet (which I had purposefully hidden under a low-hanging rack of clothes) and I took a deep breath and stepped on it.
Just as I expected.
The scale was echoing back what I already knew to be true . . .
“You have some work to do to GET healthy, and then you need to learn to STAY healthy.” (And that entire message was summed up in one very large three-digit number. The largest number I had seen on the scale yet.)
Ugh! I felt like a big-o-loser.
Yet, I was determined to learn from this experience, BUT I had no clue that God wanted to teach me so much more than a weight-loss plan.
As I continued to make healthier choices, I was seemingly working my way back down to what I knew to be a very healthy weight for me. However this time, as the good things (such as fitting comfortably into my “skinny” clothes) began to happen, I became VERY discouraged. Why? Because I was still several pounds heavier than my goal weight. I just couldn’t understand. I wanted to give up because the feedback of the scale didn’t seem to be working for me in the way I wanted it to.
Then, one day as I was working out in my living room, I had accidentally grabbed a 5-pound weight and an 8-pound weight to do bicep curls. It did not take me long to realize the weights were not equal.
And then it hit me . . . maybe I am not evaluating my progress accurately?
So, I grabbed the 5-pound hand weight and I marched into the bathroom to confront the scale that I had been so discouraged by week to week, and what do you know? When I placed the 5-pound weight on the scale, the dial measured it as 13 pounds! That means that my scale was in effect placing an additional 8-pound load on my shoulders every time I stepped on it. Nice.
I had actually already achieved the goal that health experts call an “ideal body weight” for my height, yet I had been living in such discouragement because I was allowing my instrument of evaluation to lie to me (in this case, out of ignorance).
Later, I began to question . . .
How many times do I evaluate areas of my life using defective instruments of measurement?
Do I let the voices of critical people determine how I view my progress?
Do I allow those who are more concerned with self-protection than the truth get to me?
Do I allow my pride to tell me that if I am not constantly getting positive attention then something must be wrong with me?
Or, how about the flip side?
Am I repeatedly standing on a scale that skims off several “pounds” that are mine to own up to?
Am I allowing popular opinion to dictate how much I can get away with?
Am I excusing my choices and behavior because of something someone else did?
Am I content to always be looking around at what other people can do to make my life more pleasant, or do I do the hard work of taking responsibility not only for the “weight” of my choices but also for the way that I am choosing to measure them?
Boy, was this a wake-up call to my heart! Because honestly, there are areas of my life where I have used both the scales of “too much” and “too little” when it comes to assessing my progress before the Lord.
Ladies, when we judge our thoughts and choices using scales burdened with added weight, we end up needlessly discouraged. This is because we expect “more” from ourselves than God does. This typically either comes through the distortion of pride or through failing to properly reconcile what critical and harmfully self-protective people communicate to us against what God says. In one word, it’s idolatry.
Conversely, when we judge our thoughts and choices using scales that do not reveal the fullness of the weight resting on it, we end up losing the peace that comes with a clear conscience before the Lord. Typically this loss of peace is a delayed effect (much like the appearance of my muffin top was). But if popular opinion remains our guide and avoidance of truth becomes our pattern, we will someday and in some way suffer for it. In one word, it’s rebellion.
This is why we all need an objective, universal standard for measuring ourselves. Just as I finally woke up to the reality that something was wrong with my bathroom scale and it needed to have an objective weight laid on it to show if the measurement I was reading each week was balanced, I also need an objective standard to keep me in check on how I make emotional, mental, and spiritual assessments.
God gives us His Spirit and what He has revealed in Scripture to help us to evaluate all facets of our lives. The writer of Hebrews says:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
We have a choice. We can lay our thoughts and choices on the perfectly just scale of God’s Word now and learn to make honest improvements, or we can continue to live in discouragement and forfeit peace by living in ignorance (willfully or not) of the skewed measurement of our progress.
I’m resolved to reconcile my thoughts and choices with the Lord alone. Not with my pride. Not with the critical on-looker. Not with the harmfully self-protective. And not on the slippery slope of popular opinion.
Will you join me?
A final note: This week’s devotional is all about progress in the life of a believer. This is not about earning or keeping a relationship with Christ; rather, it is about seeking to become more like Jesus within a relationship with Him. And how can we become more like Jesus if we are measuring our progress in every way but by His standards for us? Not likely.