Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Building Strengths

(Continued from last week. See below to read part 1.)

While following this strict (and I mean strict in the strictest form of the word) diet regime, I was reminded of the good eating habits I once had.  It is a very freeing feeling. Some foods I like had gotten lost in the sea of junk food. Take rice cakes for instance. I actually like them. They have lots of munchiness packed into a handy and tasty little low calorie treat. I hadn’t eaten one in years. And veggies. Veggies rock. They are delicious and nutritious. But when was the last time I had reached past the Doritos for the relish tray?

A Snickers bar used to be too much for me to handle and I would take two or even three days to nibble my way through it. I would eat a portion of it, then tuck it away in my chocolate stash to be finished another day. I used to pour out the last half of a can of pop because my stomach just couldn’t handle the whole thing. Seconds at dinner was not even a thought. 

So when exactly did I change? Since when am I able to handle not only a candy bar but also a pop in the same day? When did I start loading my plate with seconds? When did I give up the ice cream once a week rule and head to Dairy Queen whenever I feel like it (which is often)?  When did I start eating junk whenever I am with someone else who is?

At first, I want to say “Never mind when you started this bad habit stuff, lets get it changed now.” But one must look where they have been to more carefully plan where they are going. By looking back and evaluating the mistakes and bad decisions, we can avoid the same blunders in the journey ahead. Gradually, little by little and nibble by nibble I have let my guard down. Living by desires instead of wisdom has been my downfall.

 As I begin the journey of this new year, the things I gained while losing on this diet give me a renewed sense of direction and inner growth to build upon.  Strengths that can be applied to my walk in daily life. Yes, it is important to be healthy, but it is even more important to walk worthy of the calling we have received. Though each strength was learned from a health point of view, the lessons do not stop there, their true value is eternal.  This is good, since I sometimes need reminded of the goal of my life - to please and glorify God.

I will share a few:

Self Discipline:

The sheer discipline required to hang in there on this diet has produced an inner strength in me. Immediate gratification does not have the hold on me that it had pre-diet.

The grace of God, growing self-discipline in me, teaches me to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. Adding this quality to my faith will keep me from becoming ineffective and unfruitful in my walk and can help me prepare my mind for action so I am ready for the spiritual war waging around me. (Titus 2:11-13, 2 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 5:8)

Patience:

5 homeopathic drops 5 times a day with nothing to eat or drink for 15 min before or after….. When was the last time I purposely went 30 minutes without putting something in my mouth? The first few days this 30 minutes seemed so long, I actually needed a timer!

Patience doesn’t come naturally to me, or to most of us for that matter. It is so difficult to wait for what we want, to kindly wait for others, to slow down and wait for the Lord’s timing. An essential element of faith is learning to wait on God’s timing, not my own. As we put off the old self, patience is part of putting on the new self. God calls us to be patient with others as well as patient for His coming. (Colossians 3:9-12, James 5:7-8)

Endurance:

For the first couple of weeks, the calories are restricted to a bare minimum. As my stomach and body learn to adjust, I must endure hunger pangs, especially the first few days….. I have to pull myself into an inner strength and quietness to make it. I can feel the character building here.

Endurance is among the list of things we are to pursue, to seek to build in our lives. It is the ability to keep going even when the going seems monotonous or difficult. Where we get the inspiration to endure is key; it is to be inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. In this life we will have trials. Those trials come from many sources; endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures will give us the hope we need to make it through. (1 Timothy 6:11, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Romans 5:14)

Appreciation for food:

When calories are far and few between, each bite is savored…enjoyed…truly appreciated. I eat slower. I fully taste each morsel and sense each texture. I do not overeat in my gusto to get more. I am thankful for the food. When was the last time we Americans living in the land of plenty were truly thankful for our food?  It’s a good feeling.

Too often, I forget to slow down and just be thankful. Thankful for a Savior. Thankful for His love. Thankful that He chose to reach down for me. Thankful my debt has been stamped “Paid in Full”. Thankful for each and every blessing. We are told to continue to live in Him, and end up overflowing with thankfulness. Overflowing with thankfulness. I’m not sure anyone would describe me with those words, but that is what I am called to be. Overflowing. That’s a lot of thankfulness. But but if I never stop to reflect on who God is and what He has done and worship Him, there is no way I will overflow with thankfulness. This brings so much of life into perspective. There is so much room to grow here. (Colossians 2:6-7, Hebrews 12:28)

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