Yesterday’s post might have sounded harsh. While that wasn’t my intention, I am convinced that change will not happen until we decide to change. And we can’t decide to change until we start thinking about change.
I wish that I could live the abundant life that Christ gave me without me having to do anything. It would be much easier if God just snapped his fingers and everything in my life changed. But it doesn’t happen that way. And you know why? Because I would lose my ever-loving mind! And I would always be afraid that I could lose it as quickly as I got it.
Picture this scenario…..
You get ready to go to bed with your life just as it is everyday. You know that tomorrow there will be laundry and dishes waiting for you when you wake up because you are just too tired to tackle them tonight. Your husband is laying in bed beside you watching some stupid television show with the volume turned up to concert levels. You can hear your kids arguing. And all you want is to get some sleep.
You wake up in the next morning suddenly living in your spotless dream home with the white picket fence. You feel and look like a million bucks. Your husband has suddenly morphed into Prince Charming. Your children are acting like little angels.
And you don’t know what to do with yourself! The truth is that you can’t even really enjoy it because you know that tomorrow everything can go back to how it used to be.
This is why God allows us to participate in our own spiritual, relational, and physical transformation. He wants us to be able to enjoy the abundant life that Christ has promised. While He won’t snap his fingers and change everything, we don’t have to do it on our own. God gives us more than enough grace to work through the changes that we need to make. He gives us wisdom to make better decisions and the self-control to follow through. He gives us peace that passes understanding. He gives us patience and perseverance to see it through. And He loves us with a perfect love that casts out all of our fear.
And all of these gifts come with the decision to change.
If I’ve learned anything during the last two years, it’s this:
Any sense of being in control during most of my lifetime has been an illusion.
The simple truth is that I have not nor will I ever control any member of my family, my church, or my community. I may know what should be done but it is always the other person’s choice on whether or not they will accept my advice…. even if that advice is taken directly from the Bible.
The only control I have is self control. And I know that I have it because the Bible tells me that God has given it to me.
Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things.
That means that I can control what goes into my mouth, what types of exercise I choose to engage in, and how much sleep I get each night. And I’ve found that practicing self-control in these areas lends it’s strength to practicing self control in other areas such as controlling my tongue, thinking positive thoughts, and choosing to keep my advice to myself.
If, like me, you have discovered that being in control is an illusion, may I suggest that you find one area in your life where you need self control and begin to practice there?
For me, developing self control in my nutrition and fitness has helped me to release the misguided and futile need to control people or circumstances. And that alone makes me feel as if I’ve lost a thousand pounds of stress and inner turmoil.
I woke up around two this morning thinking about yesterday’s blog. In particular I began to think about this one short paragraph:
…..I began to think about losing even more weight. I’d see the ladies in my fitness magazines and think I could do that or I’d hear about a product that could help me lose these last 10 or so ponds and be tempted to try it.
The problem isn’t that I want to lose more weight or look like Tosca Reno. It’s that I’m once again believing the first lie.
Genesis 3:4 The serpent said to the woman, “It is not true that you will surely die; 5 because God knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The first lie is when Satan told Eve that she wasn’t good enough as she was. He convinced her that God was holding out on her and that somehow He had denied her what she thought she most needed. What’s worse is that Satan appealed to her desire for the quick fix in letting her believe that all it would take is just one bite.
I don’t know about you but I find it quite easy to fall for this lie over and over again. I have spent years believing that I am not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, strong enough, spiritually enough….. And I’ve looked for the quick fix over and over again.
But there is no quick fix. The only way to believe that I’m enough is in knowing and applying God’s word to all of my life. I’ve got to come into alignment with what God says about me.
You and I are more than enough. We are created in God’s image. We are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. The rest is small stuff that can be changed without changing who we are created to be!
It’s the small stuff that requires self-control which helps me to:
- apply God’s word to every area of my life.
- focus on the positive and release the negative.
- keep my mouth shut instead of confessing lies over my life.
- choose to eat well and deny myself foods that are harmful to my body.
- schedule time for a daily workout.
It’s true. Misery is a state of mind. You choose misery or happiness.
Have you ever noticed that siblings will live in the same household, have the same parents, go through the same problems and yet one is happy while the other one is always miserable? It’s because they each chose how they would respond to life. One chose happiness and the other chose misery.
Blaming misery on others doesn’t make anything better…. it’s just a manipulative way of inviting someone to join you in your misery. You know the old saying, “Misery loves company.” Well, it’s absolutely true. If you are miserable then you want to make darn sure that no one around you is happy so you blame them for your misery. You do everything within your power to make sure that they know that if they were different then you’d be happy.
You’ve created an environment where no one can truly be happy. Your spouse can’t relax in your presence. Your children are uncomfortable riding in the car with you. Friends avoid lunch dates. Even pastors are afraid to answer the phone when called.
And that’s because everyone knows that there is absolutely nothing they can do to make things better for you.
More than anyone else, women tend to be miserable in their own bodies. They hate the way they look. Dread swimsuit season. Avoid intimacy.
Women stand in front of the mirror and curse the very image of the living God as they curse themselves. Women routinely rehearse and magnify their faults and ignore their beauty.
And because they are miserable they make darn sure that everyone around them is miserable. Husbands are afraid to say anything because they don’t know how it will be heard. Children walk on eggshells. And daughters are taught to hate themselves. No one is happy and everyone is miserable.
If you are miserable in your own skin then it’s your own fault. You can choose to remain the same or you can choose to do something about it.
Here are a few ideas that will help you go from miserable to happy:
- Start complimenting yourself. Begin to tell yourself that you are made in the very image of God and that’s absolutely beautiful!
- Stop waiting on the magic pill that will melt your fat away to reveal the strength beneath. Instead:
- Develop the fruit of the spirit known as self-control.
- Eat well because the better we eat the better we feel.
- Exercise. God made your body strong!
It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities. (Proverbs 16:32 GNB)
Self-control doesn’t come without a battle.
The weapons that must be used in this battle for self-control are self-denial and delayed gratification. (Remember battles are never pleasant nor pretty.)
Like soldiers who are trained to use their guns and tanks through practice, we must practice using these weapons. But what does this look like in our daily lives? It may mean turning down the desert or choosing exercise over television. It may mean that we don’t go places that tempt us beyond our control or put ourselves in situations that push us beyond our limits.
The good news is that once we win control in one area of our lives then we can exercise that same skill in other areas. For example, if we learn to control our eating we can use those same skills to keep from saying what we know shouldn’t be said and avoid arguments that can’t be won.
Everyday we are given the opportunity to practice these skills and exercise self-control… but its up to us whether or not we advantage of these opportunities.