The sun is waking the world. Nestled in your armchair, bible open in your lap, God’s presence is palpable. You truly sense him delighting over you with singing just as scripture says in Zephaniah 3:17. What a treat to begin the day this way! The Word speaks to you afresh.
You launch into a new day, filled with great intentions and anticipation. You purpose resolutely to glorify God with your eating and drinking today, in response to the exhortation issued in 1 Corinthians 10:31.
As the day continues, however, the fire in your heart, kindled in the early hour spent sitting at the feet of your Savior, cools.
By mid-day, all your great intentions have fallen by the wayside. You hadn’t even realized you were eating. “How could this have happened?” A pass through the breakroom at work at 1pm (or the kitchen at home before picking the kids up from school) and your “failure” seemed sealed.
The voice of condemnation follows you around like a familiar companion, taunting you with lies that seem so believable. You have been here many times before. Discouraged, the accusations of the Enemy come thick and fast: “You will never change.” “You are destined to always overeat.” “You thought you could change…HA!” “So much for a ‘New Thing!'”
How did this happen?
And, more importantly, what do you do now?
Many of us have the self-condemnation routine down pretty well. Now it is time to BUCK that system!
At moments like this, rather than be taken captive by runaway thoughts, we must take these thoughts captive and subject them to the scrutiny of Scripture. We reject the temptation to allow our feelings–or even our own experience–to determine fact. Truth is defined by our great and marvelous Savior, Jesus Christ. It is not, nor will it ever be, determined by our feelings or experience. Truth is truth. We want to renew our mind in it.
So, even if you have eaten past a 5 for the 100th time in a row, or even if you haven’t waited for hunger again, no matter what it is, let’s allow this to be a stepping stone out of a pit of despair instead of one more brick blockading our progress forward.
In Thin Within, we are taught a biblical application of confession and repentance. Thin Within refers to this as the Observation and Correction tool. Whether you have the Thin Within book or not, are studying with us or not, you can try this, too!
Any time I have made a choice that isn’t in line with my godly goals or God’s will for me, I dispassionately step out of the picture for a moment and observe. Prayerfully ask God to help you to see things apart from emotion. (Even if I am SO disappointed again that I haven’t lived according to my intentions…let’s not go there. Set that aside!)
I imagine my actions of the previous hour or day displayed on a TV screen as if it was someone else’s life and evaluate: “What actions led to the action that I now regret?” It might be mindlessly wandering into the break room or the tiredness I felt mid-day and not having a plan prepared for dealing with it. It might be having had one more conflict with the neighbor next door over my dog barking and the agitation I felt in response to that. Simply observe the events that led up to the experience of overeating. This is the observation part of the Observation and Correction tool.
Observation is done best when, as you do it, you speak to God about what you discover. The bible calls this confession. You are agreeing with God about the facts of what happened. There need not be a lot of fanfare. It may break your heart, certainly, but right now, try to look at the facts. We tend to emotionally charge things or to somehow think that true change happens when we cry more tears over the thing we wish we hadn’t done. This may not be the case.
In fact, often, we stop there. We confess to God and then we proceed to knock ourselves over the head repeatedly for not being different. We may work ourselves into tears over it, but here is the thing–we stop short of making godly correction–plans for what to do differently next time–which is what repentance really is! Repentance is changing our behavior.
So, rather than begin the downward spiral of beating yourself up, let’s take this a step further. Prayerfully ask the Lord to show you what you can do differently in the future so that you are mindful and willing to respond to your body’s satisfied signals. As you have considered what led to your overeating, now replay the tape in your mind inserting a different set of choices. What will you do differently next time?
It might be to choose not to enter the breakroom at work (where a bounteous supply of snack foods are always set out on the counter) after lunch is over. Or you might plan next time to go to bed an hour earlier so that you aren’t as likely to have weakened resolve by mid-day. You might plan to take 15 minutes to pray for your neighbor immediately after the next altercation and establish a boundary that you won’t walk through the kitchen for any purpose between the hours of 1 and 4.
The key here is to make a plan to change. Scripture refers to this as repentance. Repentance is not feeling bad about my sin. It is planning to change. It is fully intending to be different with a plan for this change in mind.
This is appropriating God’s grace! His grace is intended to be a moment-by-moment provision for my need including my response to sin or disappointment. As I observe my behavior dispassionately and refrain from the habit of indulging myself in self-deprecation, as I move past this place to making godly correction, I rest in God’s grace and experience it afresh. I ask him for strength to help me to act on the changes and then I “break camp and move on.” He doesn’t want me camping at this place where I feel like a failure. He called me to cast off such labels.
How about you? Think about the last time you didn’t live according to your godly goal of eating between 0 and 5–what led up to the behavior? What corrections can you plan for the future so that you do something different? Will you? 🙂
I love this. I like repentance being likened to making a plan to do something different the next time. I once heard a pastor say repentance is doing a 180 and heading in a different direction the next time.
Mindfulness is a habit I want to develop. Right now when I fail, I retreat into self-pity and/or binge watch tv. How do I stop that first wave of emotion that rolls over me?
The first thing is to not beat yourself up if you make a mistake. In Thin Within, we learn “Observation and Correction”, which means when you mess up (and we ALL mess up sometimes!), you look at what happened (observe it), pray about it and ask God to show you what you could have done differently. Then you do your best to avoid the circumstances etc. that caused you to mess up. (correction).
That will help you not retreat into shame over it which causes you to go into self-pity.
Remember: “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) and “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)
It helps me to look up other verses of scripture about forgiveness and mercy and grace. If I am in a reoccurring struggle, I will post scripture on my fridge, on my pantry door, on my mirror etc! Sounds funny, but it helps me.
I hope this helps you.