Day 506b: A Slave No More

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Ya know, yesterday on Day 505, I was supposed to write about the positivity of being free.

I tried a bunch of times to write on it, but I just wasn’t… feelin it. (And for good reason.) If you read the post I wrote just moments ago (Day 506a: Childish Conviction) then you’ll see why.

Sin. I wasn’t feeling free because I was still WILLINGLY going back to sin and asking to be its slave. But my little interaction today with my son was like someone spiritually grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking the snot out of me and saying WAKE UP!!!! YOU ARE A SLAVE BUT YOUR SHACKLES ARE OFF! WHY ARE YOU STILL WORKING FOR THIS MASTER? GO! GET OUT OF HERE! BE… FREE.

And I am.

I. am. free.

POSITIVITY: I am free.

Now, I am free from my slavery to sin, and I have become a slave to righteous living. Romans 6:18

I never understood before I started this covenant journey how restricting myself (a la “becoming a slave to righteous living”) would be FREEING? It just didn’t make sense. Until I actually went through that process and realized that last year I was so incredibly free from food once I restricted my foods with God as my help. Then… enter the turn of the year from 2012 to 2013 and my introducing chocolate back into my life.

Big mistake. Huge. HUGE.

However, I can thank God tonight that He has taken me down this road AGAIN to remind me AGAIN of this truth. Because since I ate that first bite of chocolate in January… I have been enslaved to it again. As I reached out that night to taste my first bite of sweetness, I shackled my tender, tender soul back to the vice that has held me captive for so long.

And now, I should probably expound on that to you guys, but I’d rather just talk to God about it in my prayer.

PRAYER:

Oh my God… how wonderful you have been to me today. How you have reached out yet AGAIN to redirect me. I can be nothing but thankful… no, wait, I can be more. I have hope and freedom once again God. Even as I walked into the house and was immediately assaulted with the all-too-familiar thought of “Hmmmm, what can I snack on?” I smiled God with such peace because I knew that I was free again.

And on that note… wow. Thank you for making confession and conviction SUCH an effective tool in redirecting me. Thank you for using my sweet little boy to speak a dagger of truth into my heart. Oh my Jesus, I needed Your Sword of Truth to cut me clean down the middle so that You could put me back together again. And Hallelujah you did it!

I just feel so full of hope and excitement as I look forward to more and more days and days of peace in my heart as you empower me with strength and the ability to resist these morsels of the former me. Lord Jesus, be close to me now. Stay sooooo close by my side… even now, I can sense that sneaky snaky devil searching in my armor for a weak link. Guard me God with your angels… protect me from evil even if just for a few days while I get my sea legs again. Allow me to be a glory and witness to you as I muddle through this covenant journey.

Oh just THANK YOU GOD… that is all I have tonight. Thanks. Thank you… thank you for this freedom. Thank you.

And a Hallelujah Amen!

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Day 443: The Post Where I Sorta Tell You What God Said

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Okay, I won’t wait too long to “reveal” the conclusion that God and I came to this past weekend since I wouldn’t tell you on Day 441. Ha!

It didn’t take much of God’s influence for me to know that my oh-so-brilliant plan of eating sugar on full moon days, national holidays, and at birthday parties was a total flop. And, I have to confess, that was allllll my idea in the first place. I never really asked God about what He thought I should do. Yeahhhh, sooooo… apparently that’s never a good idea. Ya know, to NOT ask God what He wants to do in your life.

Essentially, I realized that the more lenient I was with myself and in my covenant with God, then the more I struggled with sugar. It was totally opposite of what I thought would be the case! Nutritionists and counselors frequently give the advice: create balance in your life… you can’t be extreme. Which, on paper… totally. makes. sense. And honestly, I truly WISH that were the case for me. But, well, it’s not. Cause… whether or not my body is truly addicted to sugar, my MIND is. And when I started to really come to grips with that this weekend is when I knew that the on-again, off-again “covenant” I had made up was not going to work.

A girl at the retreat was talking about her husband after he sobered. He said that he had found booze all over the house… he’d even found some in the ATTIC that he’d hidden! And I laughed and giggled a bit at that, and then… I started to think of all the times that I’d hidden sugar. And especially since I switched over to the on-again, off-again covenant.

Extra candy from Christmas stocking stuffing that only I knew existed… tucked away in the craft box. The “good” candy from Halloween (Twix, Snickers, Milky Way, etc)… slid all the way back behind the extra olive oil in the pantry. My son’s leftover cupcake from his 5 1/2 birthday party at school… disguised as old leftovers in the very back of the top shelf of the fridge.

When I gave up “control” over my eating for those couple of weeks, I went and hit every. single. spot.

Again. I might not be physically addicted to the stuff… but, I was ACTING like an addict.

I talked about it with this girl later. She, too, had been an alcoholic and has been sober for quite a while now… her secret? She never touches the stuff. Ever. She won’t ever have another drink. She said “There is never a time where anything good comes from drinking alcohol.”

And she was right… and I knew that the same truth, really and truly, applied to sugar. Yes, there are good moments surrounding the eating of sugar (birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc) but the actual eating of sugar… nope. nothing good actually comes out of it. (Now, mind you, when I say “sugar” I’m talking about the refined product that we use today… not at all about fruit-kind-of-sugar… that stuff is awesome!) And the last year has taught me that eating sugar during those special occasions isn’t necessary to have a good time at them. (Ha – doesn’t that sound like someone realizing that they can have a “good time” without alcohol?)

During that conversation, I mentioned that I was starting to feel pulled to giving up sugar… forever. And honestly, at that point I was totally on board with it. At first, she thought that idea was a little wack, but as I explained that it wasn’t that I just really, really wanted to give up sugar… it was that I felt I HAD to give up sugar. I was responding to the stuff like an alcoholic! I wanted to not have the stuff, but if I allowed myself one bite even… days after it would all fall apart and I’d be back at my old-binging self again!

It was like God had cured me of cancer or something the year before, and here I was saying, “No God, why don’t you go ahead and give it back to me?” CRAZY. But that’s what I was doing! I had been freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee from sugar for a year. And it was amazing! One of the most amazing years of my life! And then I had said, “No, God, put me back in chains… I want to be a slave to the stuff again.”

Nutso.

So, I started to pray that God would show me… no sugar forever? no sugar for a year? What was His plan? Not my plan. Because I no longer wanted to be a slave to sin. to gluttony. to pain. to sugar. I wanted to be a slave to Him.

And these verses speak so well to all of this:

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. {Oh man, this guy just GETS IT!} Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For sin will pay you back with death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:15-23

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One thing I do want to mention – I don’t want anyone to think that I’m saying alcoholism and/or drug use and a sugar “addiction” are the exact same beast. I know that the struggles involved in alcoholism and drug use are of an entirely different nature. What I am saying is that I experience some of the same reactions to “fighting off” sugar that addicts experience. But please don’t think that I’m downplaying the extreme battle that an addict must fight.

Day 336: Sin Switch

I was thinking this morning about  how I am going to need to stay with my covenant for a longer stretch of time.

I got a bit of a complex, wondering a bit why I needed to still stay with it when the people on the WeighDown testimonials had been skinny for years and years. Was there something “wrong” with my covenant? Was there something “wrong” with me?

But then I was reminded that not everyone that has done WeighDown has lost tons of weight and kept it off. I have a friend that did a WeighDown course and lost weight but gained it back.

And ya know… I think I am having to readjust just as much of my mind to remember that gluttony and food addiction are not just sins that you can switch on and off like a light switch.

These sins are sooooooo ingrained into my flesh and my habits that it will take years (and possibly my entire lifetime) to overcome. And maybe that’s how I’ve gotten so far in my life without really breaking this addiction… I did all these diets and short-term “fixes” when really I needed to address the main issue of gluttony and all the things that pushed me toward gluttony (boredom, procrastination, sadness, etc). It was like that analogy… a diet is like putting a bandaid on a seriously massive, festering wound and expecting it to heal.

I’ve focused on the short game for so long, and now I’m finally addressing the REAL issues in my heart that drive me to overeat.

And our dear friend Paul understood the struggle with sin so well…

The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:14-15

So, so, so accurate… but here’s what I love about what Paul has to say even more. Just this kind of talk is depressing. Full of hopelessness, but Paul always seems to point us back to The One Who Saves…

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:22-25

And if PAUL HIMSELF continued to struggle with sin, even after having been blinded by the glory of Christ on the road to Damascus, well… then… maybe I’m not such a spiritual freak after all. But I have hope… I continue to run this race because, Jesus Christ will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death!

He is the switch… no matter how many times I sneak into my soul and flip it back down and pout in the darkness, He has the power to flip that switch back on… and flood me with Light.

Day Thirty-Six: Mixed Veggies Mindset

I think that I have realized over the past week or so that I need to sorta “revisit the vision” cause lately I have been following the covenant but my heart has not been in it. Since I really want this to be a change of the heart, soul, and mind… then I need to pretty frequently evaluate my motivation, my heart, my thinking, my reasons, etc.

Like I said, I have been sticking to the “letter of the Law” of the covenant, but not necessarily the spirit of it as well. I was still staying within my parameters as far as what I could eat, but I wasn’t trying to eat well. I was being a lazy eater and trying to sorta stay in the covenant without really having to work at it.

For example, technically a peanut butter and honey sandwich is okay for me to have in the covenant. But not necessarily beneficial. Beneficial would be for me to attempt to go “beyond the Law” if that makes sense. Like, sure I can have the peanut butter and honey sandwich, but it would be better for me if I ate the apple instead, or mixed veggies (like I had today for lunch), or a baked potato. That way I’m not necessarily trying to just stick to the Law (like one tries to “stick” to a diet) but I am trying to please God by going beyond just what the Law asks me to do.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is not something that I would think about on a diet. I would totally be focused on how to follow the diet in the most indulgent way possible. (Like, if I get 2,000 calories a day then how many brownies can I eat and stay in that range?) But since this is about so much more than just a diet, then I can get excited about not having that peanut butter and honey sandwich (which is actually one of my favorite things) but excited in having a bowl of mixed veggies (which was surprisingly good… although I do wish they would leave out the peas. Ick. Not sure why God even bothered with those things).

All of these efforts are in hopes… no, in faith… of being free from food. I was teetering on my mind falling right back into the same slavery as before even though I was still following the covenant. I would have just made sandwich bread, tortillas, chips, etc my new “chocolate”.

Now I’m going to go out of order on these verses but for a reason:

If you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. Galatians 5:4

That was me… yesterday. A slave to the Law. Being driven by the Law. Trying to do right by keeping the Law. But today…

Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Galatians 5:1

Today I have once again been set free. My mindset today is how can I please God with what I eat? So even though that PB&H sandwich would not make Him mad… it might not make him pleased like the bowl of mixed veggies.

Wow. Who knew that mixed veggies could symbolize so much? Haha!