My plan is me, alone, on my couch with a good book or Netflix streaming, and a snack. But everything hinges on the aloneness and the snack. The obstacles are my children and my husband. Dinner is fed and dishes put away, baths are had, pajamas are on, teeth are brushed, and stories and prayers recited. "Quite messing around. This is not time to be silly. Hurry up. Get in bed." Bumps and detours exasperate me, sometimes even enrage me. I'm desperate.
I "shoosh" every exclamation, trying to make sure they don't wake my husband who might already be asleep on the couch. If he's not, I'll only have to wait an hour or so before he's out. Then I can dig into my ice cream, cookie, pie, tortilla with Nutella (when times are desperate) without the the nagging shame that comes with bingeing in front of someone you regularly complain to about your jiggly tummy/tight jeans/etc.
This is it? THIS is what I looked forward to with such anticipation? This was my plan for joy, for comfort, for contentment? As I write it down, spell out the secret thoughts, de-robe the truth until it's completely naked and exposed to all, I can see how pitiful it truly is. I can see the beautiful things I cast away in exchange for an artificially flavored joy – a fleeting pleasure that camped out for a while but forgot to take its baggage when it made its getaway, instead leaving it all behind to weigh down my midsection, and even worse, my heart.
But in that moment, in that desperate hour, it felt like the answer. Like a well-earned respite at the end of a long day. A long day of cleaning, cooking, running to dance class and the grocery store and the feed store, delivering a meal, wiping bottoms, washing/folding/sorting laundry, volunteering at church, taking care of everyone. Hello, what about me? I worked hard and I deserve this. I deserve some "me time," some self-indulgence, a treat, a reward. Don't judge me and certainly don't get in my way. Because this, this is what I need. This will recharge me, soothe me, restore me, relax me, make me happy, make me human again. I hold the key to my euphoria, if only I can orchestrate everything just so. Nevermind that somewhere along the way, as one Oreo turns to the whole sleeve, one bowl to the whole pint, one piece of whatever to three or four, I hand over the baton. I go numb. I let what I crave take control. I escape the slavery of my pursuit of perfection only to run to the arms of a new master.
In the morning, the high has worn off, and I'm left with a hangover of regret and disappointment. I start in the shallow end, standing in front of the mirror, poking and pinching and standing sideways and sucking in and wishing my belly bulge, my muffin top, and my thigh jiggle could all instantly melt away. Then I dive deeper. I get angry with myself. I cry. I get so frustrated. I feel like slapping myself in the face. The defeat, the failure, the shame. The same thing over and over.
I blame everything. My life is overwhelming and it pushes me to do this. I don't have time to work out. I have a hard time losing weight even when I do. I'm pregnant or I'm breastfeeding. It's winter time. It's summer time. It's Tuesday. I'm weak. I'm addicted. I have no will power. I mean, how many times have I said, "This is the last time; tomorrow will be different"?
But the wool I keep pulling over my eyes grows thin. Slowly, the truth starts to bubble up. Up and up it rises until I look down and realize the truth is that I am knee-deep in lies. It's not some rigged-against-my-favor lottery of life circumstances that have cemented my feet in the mud bog of misery. My enemy is the lies I have chosen to believe:
God will not satisfy me. God will not sustain me. God will not provide for me. God's promises are not true. There is no victory over sin. It is better to be first than to be last.
The hard coating on my heart thickens as I dip again and again in the deceitful cup instead of the living well of God's truth (John 4:13-14). The struggles that have plagued me are merely symptoms of my suffocating heart. The time is long overdue for me to stop doctoring the wounds, to take a hammer to the candy-coated coffin around my heart, and let the light of God's truth do it's transforming, life-giving work (John 8:12; 1 John 1:5; Ephesians 5:7-9).
That is my goal. Not to lose x number of pounds, not to fit in a prized pair of jeans from glory years past, not to stop eating this and only eat that. Not my goal is to wage war. To stop wallowing and to step into battle. To pick up and put on the belt of God's truth, the body armor of his righteousness, the swift and agile shoes of the good news of the Gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit of God (Ephesians 6:13-17). To push aside the sick and withered branches and dig deep until I can find the diseased root. To study, and pray and lay hold of God's promises. To fill myself with God's way of thinking so I can walk – and eat – in a new way.
I'm ready to walk in the victory that Christ has already won for me.
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:6-11)
"Let us Walk in the Light of God"
Sermon by John Piper
"Lay Aside the Weight of Self Indulgence"
Article by John Bloom
This blog is is the second post in a series on Overcoming Gluttony. In 2016, let by God's Spirit, I resolved to dig beneath the surface of my food-related struggles, to root out the lies that had been poisoning my heart, to replace those lies with the God's truths, and to walk in the light of Jesus's death and resurrection.