I had two blogs planned for today. One is the burlap post you might have seen earlier. This is NOT the second blog I planned on. This is what happens when you spend time thinking and praying about something. Inevitably, at some point, that something you've been thinking and praying about is going to come so far to the fore-front of your thoughts and focus that you swell up with words and thoughts, and you have to get them out there. Out in the universe, not because you're proud of them. Not because you necessarily want people to know these words and thoughts, but because the inner-most portion of you heart tells you to. I wrote much of what is below in an email to a dear friend. I didn't really want to tell her everything that I told her, but I knew it would be for the best for me if I did. And although putting this on my blog, might make me an easy target for harsh thoughts or hateful criticism, I'm still doing it, and I know I will be better for it.
The background: Last Monday some ladies from our community and I began a weekly Bible study. We are going through the Beth Moore study "Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy". During this study we see a lot of parallels between ancient Babylon and the US. Some of those parallels are our yearning for extravagant things, our over indulgence in richness and this overwhelming entitlement attitude that we somehow "deserve" these rich things. In the first session, Beth Moore challenged us to come up with a resolve for us to work towards for the first 6 weeks of our study. She was giving up "rich meats", she said ours could be anything. The point was not for us to diet (because us ladies can turn just about anything into a diet), but for us to resolve within our hearts to give up something that we don't need, in an effort to not give up our integrity and identity. In the Bible, when Daniel was taken captive, he did not eat the rich meats or drink the wine the king offered to him. Instead, he ate vegetables, drank water, and held on to his identity instead of allowing himself to act, be, eat just like everyone else in Babylon.
In America, we give in to the temptation to buy certain things, dress certain ways, act certain ways and give in to the lavish, luxurious, extravagant and over-indulged lifestyle. Beth Moore is simply challenging us to give something up, to distant ourselves from the mindset that we are entitled to things, that we are "owed" something. And so... in thinking about this challenge, I decided I would give up shopping. Specifically, buying clothes I don't need. But something about that didn't sit well in my heart of hearts. And after thinking and praying about this for the past week and a half, here's the email I sent to my friend.
"So... here's a little update for you... and I almost don't want to tell you because then I'll have to make a confession and actually have to be held accountable for something. Why does that have to be so hard? Because it's obviously a weakness of mine and because it must be a hold satan has on me that he doesn't want me to wiggle out of.
In doing the Beth Moore study, and in thinking about what resolution I can make... I think I picked one that's too easy. I mean, yes, I do buy clothes sometimes that I don't really need, but I do that in spurts. Like I'll go for a couple months and not buy any clothes for myself and then I'll have a weekend where I'll drop a hundred or so on some new clothes. But really, it's not that hard to avoid buying new clothes. Especially in Plains where there are NO stores for shopping, unlike Levelland where I could pop over to Cato's or Beall's or any of the boutiques if I wanted to. So like I said, picking "no buying clothes" as my "resolution" really doesn't take much resolve at all. In really thinking and praying about it, I've learned that while buying clothes is something I need to do with more intention and not just in spurts or on whims, it's not something that I necessarily struggle with. We either have the money to afford new clothes or we don't. Not that big of a deal.
But the thing that I do struggle with... that I face all day, every day is eating. And not just eating, but eating because I'm bored, eating because of emotions, eating to fill a void, eating for no other reason than I know it tastes good. It's pleasurable. And it's in excess. It's like the rich food Daniel faced, except it's not necessarily "rich" food, it's just food. But I want it. I know some of that stems from my upbringing. Granny and Papa didn't buy extravagant food. Most of it was Granny food, meaning, she seasoned it, cooked it, made it, whatever. A lot of it was home-grown food or food from hunting seasons. But when she did stock up on food from Sam's and Schwan's, I just wanted to eat it all because I knew we didn't get it very often. Then when I moved in with my Dad and step-mom, they didn't buy much food at all (because we ate dinner at Granny's, breakfast and lunch I ate at school, and mom and dad ate on the job). Which was fine during the school year, but during the summer, they still didn't buy food and I wasn't eating at school anymore. So they'd buy a little food, but nothing really smart and substantial. So then I would go to Granny's sometimes to eat during the day, or I'd rummage around and find enough food to eat at the house. I can't tell you how many boxes of macaroni and cheese I ate during the summer (only made without milk because they didn't buy milk very often), or how many times for lunch I had chips and cheese-dip (because they almost always had rotel and velveeta [like I said, they didn't buy smart food]). So... once I got married and started cooking regularly, I gained weight like crazy because I would want to eat everything. It's like some part of me was afraid the food wouldn't be there anymore, or that I wouldn't be able to afford to buy more food so I'd better eat as much as I could or else I wouldn't get it anymore. It's very strange... and I'm probably not making much sense. haha... but just keep up with me.
And here's where we enter the vicious circle. I would stuff myself on food, gain weight, hate my body for gaining weight, emotionally eat, gain weight, hate my body for gaining weight, emotionally eat some more, tell myself I'm going to diet, this would always lead to me stuffing myself on the weekend preparing for the diet on Monday (kind of a last free weekend so I'd better live it up) type of thing, then I would fail the diet (naturally), be mad at myself again, emotionally eat.... and on and on and on and ON.
So I've continued in this lifestyle, this vicious circle forever. Hating myself for being weak, hating myself for letting food control my emotional state, hating looking in the mirror and not seeing what I wanted to see. Then this spring I really stepped out on a limb. I started the Weight Watchers diet and did really well with it. I lost 18 pounds and so far I've kept most of that off. When I lost the weight I felt awesome! I felt charged and rejuvenated. I felt closer to God because I was outside walking daily and spending time in prayer while walking around. It was a great feeling. And then summer craziness hit and it's gone downhill. I've still kept off much of the weight I lost but I feel myself slipping back into my vicious circle again. I keep saying I'm going to start up the WW diet again on Monday. Cursed Monday! And then I don't. And then I feel guilty, and so I eat again. Do you see how crazy I am?? haha...
But I know it's satan. I know satan is using my weakness to shatter my self-esteem, break down my self-confidence, and separate me from others. Because when I feel guilty and am emotionally eating and feeling so low about myself, I never want to be around people. I withdraw into my shell and block people out from getting close to me, reminding myself that no one wants to be around the fat girl. Joey doesn't want to be married to the fat girl. Joey couldn't possibly love the ugly fat girl. Lies! All of these horribly wicked lies that satan keeps putting in my head so I stay down where he has a hold on me.
So there's a part of me... the part that let's satan have a foot-hold into my soul and heart that is completely comfortable with going with the "no shopping" resolution. A part of me wants that to be my resolution because it's easy, it's not actually resolving to do anything different. But there's the other part of me. The part that wants to be free from this bondage, free from this vicious cycle, free to be the glorious creature GOD created me to be. This part of me knows that shopping isn't my struggle. Shopping isn't the shackle that satan's using.
And so... it's with a struggling heart but a longing soul that I am making the resolve from this day on. Not just for 6 weeks, but for my life, to not eat when I'm not hungry. This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle change. This is me saying no to my fleshly temptation of food, and saying yes to GOD filling my heart with joy and gladness. I know this is the right resolve for me because it scares me, I'm already worried about failing. But I also already feel joyful, just in writing it out. In fact, I just went through and de-capitalized all of the "satan"s and ALL CAPS'd all the "GOD"s because satan is small and my GOD is BIG!
And I guess, if you've gotten this far, hopefully you don't think I'm crazy, you have more understanding of the battles I'm fighting, and you know more about where my heart is, and where I want my heart to be.
Well... I've "put it out into the universe". Which means satan knows and is preparing to attack. But I know that GOD will send angels to help me as well. And I'm sure that one of them is you. Thanks for being such a great friend in such a short time.
I. Love. You. ;)"
And that, my dear friends, is my new resolve. If you got all the way through that, WOW, and THANK YOU! I'm not going to send this challenge out to any of my readers. It's not my place to. But I will say this: If any of you have such a resolve in your heart to separate yourself from something that has been holding you back, I'd love to hear about it. You don't have to leave it as a public comment if you don't want. Feel free to email me if that's what you'd rather do: livedelightfully (at) yahoo [dot] com. :)
Thank GOD for the unplanned entries of our hearts.
With all my heart,