I’m not sure if this is a me-thing or an everybody-thing, but I tend to deeply learn one lesson at a time. I’ve been told that I’m a good communicator, especially in confrontational settings. That can be directly traced to 2014-2015 — those were the two years where it seemed like I was confronting or being confronted once a week. So. Much. Practice. And repentance. And humility. And learning.
I love sharing how to have a fantastic devotional life. That can be directly traced to 2011-2013, the three years where I learned what its purpose is and is not. I’ve certainly learned hundreds of lessons about it since then, but that was when the foundation was laid.
The lesson at present is victory — specifically gaining it over unwanted behavior (or wanted behavior that shouldn’t be wanted). What should our mindset be? The context of this lesson is one of my most entrenched struggles: food. I know how to eat healthy — but to do it in a consistent, non-emotional-eating, no-thank-you-I’m-good, non-obsessive way? That takes…some rewiring.
I want to share two thoughts I’ve had on the topic recently, from my own experience and that of some loved ones with their own struggles. I’ve found them helpful, and I hope you do, too.
Believe Victory is Possible — Guaranteed, Even
This can sound unwelcome to 2020 ears, but we first have to believe it’s 100% possible to change. And for good. In my context, I personally know people who have healthy and balanced relationships with food, so I can see that it’s possible. I know of other people who moved from a destructive to a healthy relationship with it, so even that transition is guaranteed possible.
When we’re seeking to grow, it can be tempting to say hesitant platitudes such as, “I’ll give it a try” or “I’ll work at it for 30 days and see what happens.” This is a failure-centric approach: we’re already telling ourselves we won’t be able to, or we’ll only be able to do a month maybe. If we don’t even believe that victory is possible, how can it actually happen?
Please note I’m not talking about the power of blind belief — I’m talking about the power of having faith in God’s ability to change us. God’s ability — not our sheer teeth-gritting will. Although, our will does need to be put to its full use in choosing to believe victory is possible and doing our human part to make paths in that direction.
Even if we can’t see the practical how at first, our mindset needs to begin with grasping and believing the possibility: even in this, I’m convinced that God can change me. Permanently.
What About When I Fail?
I was recently sharing the previous idea with a friend regarding a struggle of his. “It sounds nice,” he conceded. “But what about the crushing guilt when I mess up?”
Excellent question. To which I submit this analogy:
I’m a big fan of walking. It’s my favorite low-key exercise that allows me to take in my surroundings, talk to friends, and think about things.
I’d also say I’m really good at walking. I won’t put it on my LinkedIn or anything, but I’m good at staying upright, choosing appropriate shoes, and even hitting consistent daily steps.
Recently, though, I fell down. I was taking our pup for a walk, she got excited about something, my foot got stuck in a grate, and I ended up falling hard on my left knee. Over two weeks later, that bruise still smarts with slight pressure.
Question: am I no longer a good walker? Do I identify as a “faller” now? Do I only crawl because I fell that one time, so it’s just safer to stay down where I won’t fall as hard?
Not at all.
I still take that pup for her daily walks; I still strive for a consistent daily step count. And now I know to be extra careful where I’m walking when this crazy dog gets excited about passing motorbikes.
I’m still a fantastic walker.
Biblically, a mark of the righteous is not that they never fall — it’s that, if they do, they get right back up (Proverbs 24:16). And as we learn to walk, the more we depend on Christ, the more we learn about what caused previous falls, the less we fall.
If the threat of falling doesn’t prevent us from walking, then the threat of making a mistake along the way shouldn’t prevent us from locking our eyes on Christ and believing in His ability to give us victory.
What these two mindsets practically look like in context of my lessons with food:
- I have a prayed over Food Plan that is realistic and helps me fuel my body instead of overload or otherwise hurt it.
- I commit to eating that way everyday, even when facing unknown meals ahead. Because I am entrusted with this body, no matter what, and God gives me both the tools and the strength to take care of it in various circumstances.
- I don’t entertain thoughts like “What if I just have to have XYZ?” Well, I don’t. So.
- I remember that if I make a mistake, it doesn’t invalidate the ability of God, myself, or the immense benefit and blessing of taking care of my body; it just means that I lost focus for a moment.
Whatever lessons Jesus may be teaching you right now, I encourage you to remember that He is able to help you in anything and everything. He needs only your permission and surrender.