It’s been a minute (almost seven weeks to be exact) since my last post. The coronavirus shutdown and quarantine has given me the opportunity to create and write again. Today as I start a short series on wellness I hope to encourage you and remind you of Truth. We all need some hope these days.
Top of mind for me the last few months has been wellness and eating. About six months ago, I wrote a post called Why You Haven’t Seen Me Write About Wellness in a Long Time. Typically when I struggle in an area of life, I don’t want to think or write about it. Now six months later, I can share, with joy, that I’m doing very well in the area of wellness. I’ll share a few new pieces of content over the next few weeks about wellness and what I’ve learned in over six months of taking good care of my body.
But, to start off this mini series, I want to share about my struggle with food. Whether you have the same struggle I do or not, I believe you’re going to relate to this battle.
It all started with a tray of cookies.
Two weeks ago (pre-Coronavirus world shutdown), I was in a meeting with about eight Watermark co-workers. A few folks on our singles community team put together a think tank to discuss Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I loved the discussion and was encouraged by the ways our church is thinking through these topics.
On a table in the middle of the room sat a tray full of homemade cookies. They looked incredible. They still do in my mind’s eye. Perfectly baked, golden brown, with some kind of white chocolate chunk of heaven in each cookie. I watched several of the folks eat one and I wanted one so badly. I paid attention to the discussion and contributed. But every time my eyes walked passed the cookies, I got distracted again.
Why am I so consumed and distracted by food?
I know I had the freedom to eat a cookie (Galatians 5:1, 1 Corinthians 6:12), but I looked for that cookie to do something it was never intended to do.
- That cookie will make my problems go away.
- That cookie will make me feel better about myself.
- I deserved that cookie. I’d had a hard day.
- I deserved that cookie because I worked out that morning.
- And, I deserved that cookie because everyone else had one.
My mind messed with me as I found myself consumed by the tray of cookies.
For you it might be cookies. Maybe it’s porn, or a few glasses of wine, or something you buy online. We all have something we think will satisfy us or something we deserve. For me it’s food. For you it’s something else. What is it for you?
I’ve got to be honest—I don’t know how else to be. I was outright consumed by those cookies and hated myself in those moments as I found myself filled with shame over how much I thought a cookie would satisfy me.
I know I need help. And you might as well.
How do you and I stop thinking about food (or whatever the object of obsession)?
Even as I type, the cookies aren’t in front of me, but my mind drifts to jelly beans, ice cream, and that incredible cinnamon bread my wife makes.
This is my thorn in the flesh. I am obsessed with food and think about it all the time. It’s the first thing I think of in the morning and I often fall asleep wondering when I get to eat again.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10, Paul writes:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
A few observations from the text:
- Our thorns keep us weak and humble. I don’t want to be conceited. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. I want grace and humility from the Lord, not opposition.
- When you plead for the Lord to help and He doesn’t take it away, you’re not alone. You and I are in good company.
- God’s grace is sufficient. I don’t know about you, but I’ve pleaded with the Lord not three times, but probably 3,000 times! But I believe the Lord has the same answer for me, Paul, and for you. His grace is sufficient, and through our weakness, God’s power is made perfect.
- Paul delighted in his weakness. This is a challenge for me. I get frustrated and impatient with my weakness. But I’m asking God to help me delight in my struggles. Because when we are weak, then we are strong because of Jesus. It’s been often said, “If dependence is the goal, then weakness is the advantage.” We have a great advantage in our weaknesses.
So practically how do you and I deal with our thorns (whether food, drink, or anything else)?
I especially want to address this in the midst of the new coronavirus normal. Circumstances are so unique for all of us, and these challenging times may lead us to give into instead of running away from our temptations.
Know how and when you’re tempted. I know when I’m stressed or tired, I run to food. I know when I give in to other sin struggles, I run to food. And, I know when I walk through the grocery store, I’m tempted to give in to my temptations and buy something on the down low that no one else knows about.
Being aware of when and how you struggle will help you not give in as readily to your temptations. In the midst of this new quarantine season, many of us may be more tempted than ever. Stress, proximity, lack of routine, and financial challenges may lead many of us to struggle in new ways. Be aware.
It’s not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). God created us with a need for others, so don’t be afraid to phone/text/message a friend when you need help. Often our pride gets in the way and prevents us from asking for help or admitting weakness. We ALL struggle. The flavor and intensity of the struggle may change, but you’re not alone.
I’m so grateful I have a group of friends who care for me enough to help me when I’m tempted. I’ll reach out to them when I’m struggling and they proactively reach out to me.
Replace your temptation with a healthy choice.
Take a moment now and pray. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) and ask him to keep you more mindful of opportunities to turn to Him when you’re tempted.
When I’m tempted to binge, I can replace that temptation with prayer for myself and others. I can replace my desire to binge on jelly beans with the habit of eating cucumbers or peppers. I love eating vegetables, so i’m asking God to help me find satisfaction in healthier decisions.
Always remember you have a choice.
I’m asking God to renew my mind. Romans 12:2 says we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. I need help renewing my mind. I need Him to remind me where life is found. Even though food is necessary to live, I need God to remind me that I’m personally responsible for my choices.
Ask Him now to transform and renew your mind. Ask him to remind you of Truth when you want to give in to your temptations.
And when you don’t believe it’s true, ask Him to help you take your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The Struggle is Real.
For years I was consumed by a desire to look at porn. Much like my food addiction now, I thought about it all the time. I couldn’t wait to look again. And again. And again.
I’m thankful for victory in my battle with porn. And I’m pleading with God to do the same in this battle.
The patterns of my struggle with porn are so similar to my battle with food. That’s why I believe what I shared in this post doesn’t just apply to Scott’s struggle with food but for each of us in our own unique struggles.
Be aware. Involve others. Replace your temptation with a healthier choice. And always remember you have a choice.
I’m praying now for everyone who reads this post. Please pray for me as well.
Click here to read part 2 in this series, How I Got Healthy the Right Way.
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