6:29 am on Tuesday, February 22. I realized my last blog post was at the end of December, and now we're a week away from March. For those of you who check back semi-regularly, it is time for an update. I don't have any funny stories or big broad analogies about life today, but want to share how God has been encouraging me these past weeks.
The year started out rather bleakly for me. Those of you who know me well know that I lost a fourth-grader's worth of body weight (90 lbs) after college. In the five and a half years since I've moved out of my parents' house, a third of that weight has crept back on. I've gone through several seasons of renewed efforts in addressing the issues, but in the last year, God has uncovered that, for me, this struggle isn't really about food or exercise. I know what to eat and I love to be active. For me, the issue is about control. More specifically, my heart got to the place in January where I felt out of control in this area. Maybe you can relate? Telling myself in the morning, "Today, I will make good choices", then ending up eating three bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios for dessert that night and thinking, "Tomorrow, I will make good choices." And that's a tame example of my own behavior. It got to the point where I just felt hopeless, despondent, ready to dive head-first into a dozen donuts.
But God in his infinite mercy saw me sinking in the mire of that pit, and reached down, and called me into a time of fasting. (And by fasting, I don't mean no Facebook or giving up watching Modern family. Fasting = no food.) In college, I fasted semi-regularly, but fell out of the practice and now felt rather freaked out by it. As January progressed, I had all sorts of fears and justifications for not doing it, but when it came down to it, I feel like Jesus said to do it. So, I did. But even that sentence is wrong because, in those three days, I was writhing internally, looking for ways out of this self-imposed discipline. But for each internal maneuver towards the exit door, God provided specific encouragement to stay with it. Day 1 it was the story of Hannah in the Bible: if she could literally give her son away because she said she would, can I not give my "right to eat" away because I said I would. Day 2 it was the story of Jesus clearing out the temple: He is just as vehement in his removal of the blockades in my life that keep me from experiencing God's healing and wholeness. Turning over the tables in my heart is messy and frustrating but nevertheless good. Day 3 it was just the title of the day's devotional: Getting Past Your Quitting Point.
After the fasting time has come a retraining my eating patterns time. I've been eating like a vegan for about 3.5 weeks now, and have found that I can overeat on brussel sprouts and natural almond butter (not together...I don't put almond butter on my veggies. Bleh!) as easily as I can on chips and cheese or ice cream. So now the challenge is to walk through the healing steps for addictive behaviors. I'm meeting with a friend who has been clean and sober for YEARS and we're using the 12-step curriculum. It's humbling because the word "addiction" is so incredibly charged, especially in my family when Carrie's addiction sucked her into the underworld for five years. Also the idea that I am powerless over something rankles.
But then, I read the words of Christ: I am the vine, and you are the branches. Apart from me, You can do nothing.
Nothing, Lord? Really?
Yes, Marah. Nothing that really matters.
In the midst of these weeks, I've revisited Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, and in the fasting chapter, he talks about the worship of the will. I could see quite clearly that in this area, that is what I have been doing for the last couple years: worshiping myself and my ability to conquer this area. It took a LOT -- twisted ankles, ripped shoulders, LifeSigns, out-of-control tummy on the throne of Marah -- for me to see that I have been worshiping my own willpower.
Apart from Him, I can't do it. Praise be to our Papa Bear in Heaven that I can do all things through Christ. The new habits and patterns that will sustain change aren't enough; Jesus must be in those habits and patterns, the Holy Spirit must empower them. So I press on towards the goal, the upward call of God in Christ.
I covet your prayers as I finish out the next two vegan weeks. I don't intend to run back into the chains from which Jesus is freeing me, but I don't want to inadvertently slip into them either. :-)