I’ve been pretty overwhelmed by your response to my recent soul-baring post about self-control.
You’ve shared your own struggles with me so transparently as you’ve posted comments and sent emails.
Can I just tell you how grateful I am?
For your support.
For your candor.
For your sisterhood.
For your yearning heart that just wants to please God in every single aspect of your life…
and for your tenderness in realizing that maybe we’ve been missing something really important.
Perhaps, like me, you struggle with food.
Or maybe you’ve come to see a lack of self-control in other areas of your life.
No matter how your lack of self-control manifests itself, our recent discussions have kind of left me wondering…
“OK, what now?”
And so I’ve been prayerfully considering what God wants me to do with this big thing He’s showing me.
(Because He doesn’t show people big things without a reason.)
And as I’ve spent some time pondering and praying, He has led me to some steps He wants me to take.
Maybe He wants you to consider them, too.
1.)Cover this matter in prayer. I cannot conquer this issue on my own. I just can’t. I’ve tried, with varying degrees of success. But even the grandest successes accomplished on my own have been fleeting. They don’t last because my motives have been flawed.
I can finally say that losing weight isn’t my primary goal. I just want to take care of my body. Not to get thin. Not to impress someone. Not to fulfill some magazine cover image of what beauty looks like.
I want to take care of my body because it belongs to God. And the way I take care of it (or fail to do so) says something about the way I value Him. It’s a hard truth, but I’m starting to see it’s an inevitable conclusion. And so since the war against my flesh is very much a spiritual one, prayer is an absolutely essential aspect of this process.
2.)Fill my mind with the truth. Here are just a few of the truths I’ve been pondering relevant to my health:
- Stewardship of my health is an act of worship. That means healthy food choices and time spent exercising, when motivated by a heart of devotion to God, is worship.
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but apart from Him, I can do nothing.
- Lack of self-control is a sin that manifests itself in many ways. Working on self-control in one area will strengthen self-control in other areas.
- Self-control isn’t about willpower. It’s about motivation. And for a Christ-follower, there is no better motivation than a desire to please my Savior, withholding nothing from His authority and excepting nothing from the scope of His grace.
- I owe it to Jesus Christ to walk in the freedom He died to secure for me, refusing to allow my flesh keep me in bondage.
- I am not my own; I was bought with a price. It is only reasonable that I glorify God in my body and my spirit, which are God’s.
- This isn’t really about a once-and-for-all lifestyle change. It’s about stewardship. And it’s freeing to realize that stewardship isn’t about what I’ll do tomorrow or next week or next year. I’m not guaranteed that much time, so why stress myself out by projecting that far into the future? Stewardship is about careful and responsible handling of this choice in this moment.
3.)Remind myself of the truth. God’s Word is the ultimate source of truth, and so it’s important for me to stay immersed in the Bible. If I don’t stay grounded in Scripture, I become susceptible to worldly, fleshly, or prideful motivations for becoming healthier.
Frequent Bible reading is an important key for my proper frame of mind. But what about when I’m driving around town and become overwhelmed by a desire for a fast food cheeseburger? Or when I’m in the grocery store and the giant Cadbury Fruit and Nut candy bars are calling my name? Well, that’s when I need some truth in my back pocket. Truth I’ve hidden away (like the treasure it is) for moments like these.
That’s where Scripture memory comes in. It’s the “concealed weapon” that, once holstered, I’m never again without. Perhaps you’ll find some benefit from the printable Scripture memory cards I’ve created. Click here to download the cards for self-control and/or God’s sufficiency.
4.)Have accountability. Honestly, this is one of my favorite aspects of blogging. An utmost priority for my writing is to always be truthful. In a no-holds-barred-baring-my-soul kind of way. So when I’m up front with you about something God is working on in my life, that puts some pressure on me to make sure I cooperate with God as He completes the work He’s doing.
So I’m accountable to you. But I’m also accountable to my family. They know what I’m working on. And they’ll call me out if I get off track. I also asked a trusted friend with experience in personal health to help me on this journey. Plus, I’m planning to walk/run a 5k in two-and-a-half weeks; this keeps me accountable to exercising regularly so I can be prepared for the race. There are many types of accountability; the more you can incorporate, the better!
5.)Learn about health and nutrition. Information abounds about good health. Time spent learning about what our bodies need and what is detrimental to our health is time well spent. It’s only natural that a steward endeavor to learn all she can about the sacred trust she has received.
6.)Prayerfully set health-focused goals. I’m steering clear of fad diets. I’m also avoiding the mentality of losing x pounds by x date. I’m focusing on eating for the purpose of nourishing my body, and exercising to improve my body’s strength and flexibility.
Personally, I’ve had success in the past using tools such as Weight Watchers and MyFitnessPal to count calories. But I’ve also found that I can tend to put myself in bondage to those tools. I devote myself to them slavishly; and when I finally rid myself of these taskmasters, my healthy eating habits go out the window. So I’m choosing not to use those types of tools this time. Perhaps you will find them helpful; this is very much a personal decision that should be made with much prayer.
7.)Keep stewardship in mind. In the past, once I’ve started exercising and eating healthfully, these habits have become an obsession, creating their own chains of bondage. If homeschooling or illness preempted my workouts, I became irritable and wracked with guilt. I refused to enjoy my children’s birthday cake and stuck strictly to my diet at all costs.
But those extremes don’t represent good stewardship, either. When I remember the big picture of stewardship, it frees me to accept that there will be times when stewardship of my health will be trumped by stewardship in other aspects of life. Stewardship of my health is important; but no more or less important than other aspects of stewardship entrusted to me.
8.)Remember my dependency on God. I started with this. And I’ll end with this. And I’ll say it over and over all along the way. This spiritual battle can’t be won by Jennifer apart from God’s power at work in her. And so I’ve scheduled a 24-hour fast this month. I can’t think of a better way to remind myself that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Lord, I belong to you. I am not my own. Let me not forget it. Please help my hunger and thirst for righteousness far surpass my fleshly appetites. Please enable me to render the reasonable service You’re due. I confess that I am wholly dependent on You. Amen.
How are you cooperating with God as He develops self-control in your life? I would love to read your testimony if you have a few moments to share below.
Written by Jennifer Clarke