Seasons of Joy: The (Im)possibility of Self-Control

The last time I wrote about my battle with weight it was to share how far God had taken me, and what I perceived to be the impossible journey ahead, now that I realised it all boiled down to self control.  My word for 2017 is self control.  I haven’t even started teaching with the family because I am still plowing through the Bible looking for something which will speak to my heart.  Slowly I am getting there, and I want to document all I am learning.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Somehow, when I am in the moment and I have a choice whether to eat that bar of chocolate, I need to learn to say no.  I need to choose His way and not mine and conquer this lack of self control I have regarding food.  Yet in that moment, I rarely choose to say no.  I understand now more than ever before, why Dad struggled to stop drinking alcohol.

I am weak.  And each time I fail to say no to the mouth wateringly scrummy goodies in front of me, this is reconfirmed to me.

I have been pondering whether me trying to say no to chocolate is tantamount to a weak man trying to lift a ten tonne truck (or whatever weight is humanly possible!).  Much effort may go into trying to lift it.  Much determination may go into lifting it.  And much prayer and hope may also go into lifting the weight in front of him.  But if he has not prepared, if he has not trained for the task ahead, his muscles are never going to be strong enough to able to hold the weight that is the truck (and yes I do realise that no man could possibly lift ten tonnes – it was just illustrative!).

A weight lifter must train, not just his muscles but his whole body and mind.  And he must start small, looking after his body and health whilst at the same time lifting smaller weights, building up gradually.

So how does this translate to me?  I’m not sure, except to say that chocolate is my ten tonne truck, and saying no to it is like attempting to lift a ten tonne truck.  I wonder if many of you are wondering how on earth eating chocolate can be compared to lifting ten tonnes of metal.  And this is why I call it my ten tonne truck.  My Dad’s was drink.  I’m fairly certain each one of us has a ten tonne truck in our life; that one thing which the process of conquering will teach them so much about both their own character and the character of Christ.  I know this is going to take some greater power than myself to overcome.  This will become a part of my testimony, of that I am sure.  But honestly?  Sooner rather than later, please God….a miracle, if you will

This is the thing about miracles.  We mistakenly believe they are a one time thing.  Almost the same as magic.  You pray for a lop-sided leg to grow to the same size as the other one and before your very eyes it does; you pray to be cured of cancer and the next thing you know the doctors are baffled by the apparent disappearance of your disease.  You pray for healing over the hurts of the past, and suddenly you are free of its pain.  God can, and does, work in this way.  But often His true miracles are the almost imperceptible changes of our hearts.  I begged for God to heal me of cancer.  Instead He taught me to trust.  One day at a time.  I rarely suffer from worry issues or anxiety, certainly not as I had prior to the cancer.  He may or may not have healed my body, but He taught me to quiet my mind, to trust Him regardless.  And to focus on one day at a time.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)

It would have been wonderful to know I was going to live a long and healthy life free of the potential ravishes of melanoma, but I can honestly say God gave me a gift much greater than that.  He gave me the key to an anxiety free life, and a life which leans on the fullness and safety of God.

So what is this thing called self control?

Well, I always knew it to be one of the fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace and patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galations 5:22-23)

I often wonder if God ran out of self control by the time He got to me…Or maybe self control is last on the list above because it is available in the lowest amounts, y’know like an ingredient list contains the ingredient of the greatest amount first, and the ingredient with the lowest amount last….  You’ve heard of the forbidden fruit, maybe this was the forgotten fruit….

The truth, of course, is that self control is freely available to me in just the same quantities as the rest of the fruit of the Spirit.  And it is available as much to me as the next (seemingly more self-controlled person).  So why do I lack this fruit so very much?

I commented to Heather (my lovely mother-in-law) how ugly it all was to me.  Now I need to be clear, I neither eat in secret nor do I stuff my face until I feel sick.  But I do eat more than I need (which results in more unhealthy fat deposited on my body than is strictly necessary), and I have a very unhealthy attachment to that last chocolate biscuit, wishing I could simply hoover it up, through my oral cavity, without anyone noticing.  It is an ugly part of me.  And one I wish I could change.  Just like that.  Y’know, immediately.  Pronto.  Now.  Rapido.  Vite.  I am like a small child asking her father, ‘Are we there yet?’ every five seconds.  An instant miracle, if you wouldn’t mind, God?  Oh, and if you can lengthen a leg then you can surely shrink a tummy, a couple of thighs and a huge back side….  Spiritual liposuction, if you like.

Oh yes, instant would be most gratifying.  No effort required on my behalf.  Just letting God do what He does best…or is it?  I have experienced God’s hand in my life many times.  Really.  I have experienced His voice, His touch, His love.  God is as real to me as my children are.  But, only very rarely has He acted in my life in an instantaneous, mind-blowingly astonishing way.  No, my main experience of God is usually a still, small voice, barely audible over the chaos of life.  The only way I know it is Christ is that it is nothing if not persistent, and refuses go away until I have paid heed to it and acted.  And once I act the Peace is almost overwhelmingly beautiful.

So do I really want God to shrink me in an instant?  The only answer I can give is a resounding yes!  I mean no, no not no, yes! a reluctant no!  If I want to experience the fullness of Christ I have to be completely willing to submit to His wisdom, not mine.  I am guessing that as excruciatingly slow I am in learning to take food off the alter of my soul and replace it with Christ, the lessons I will learn in the process will encompass every area of my living, not just food and weight.  Just like learning to trust God in the cancer allowed me to trust God in all areas of my life.  Including this one.  So I will continue to run the race, strengthening that muscle called self-control until I have mastered its power.

But first, I just need to go find it….

5 comments

  1. Words cannot describe how much I love this post. Let’s just say I have my own ten-ton truck. Possibly more than one. Your words are a blessing Claire! And they struck true, oh so true. Blessings to you.

  2. I’m pretty sure chocolate and sweets are my 10 truck too! I keep saying tomorrow I’l exercise and say no to any sweets… and yet here I sit eating my tollhouse pie!

  3. Oh, chocolate is my ten-ton truck, for sure. When I was trying to get pregnant, the infertility specialist said no caffeine, no chocolate. Guess what? I did it for a year. No chocolate. No Dr. Pepper. No southern-sweet tea. No baby. After that, I went right back to my bad habits. I guess it comes down to motivation. I was motivated by the desire to have a baby. REALLY motivated. Now, I want to lose weight, but not with the same motivation I had back then. So, I have my stash of M&M’s, which I refer to as my nerve pills. LOL! I have given up tea, with the occasional exception, but only because it gives me heartburn. I buy soda rarely, so that isn’t much of a problem. I like chocolate. Period. So, I eat it. That last chocolate-chip cookie calls my name. Saying that, God can do what I think is impossible. He can take the desire and craving away. I think we just have to want it badly enough. My mom always said that where there is a will, there is a way. I am not there yet. No encouragement from me this time, Claire. I guess we are in the same “chocolate” boat.

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