"My, you have will power!" said a friend at a recent church dinner as she glanced at the small portions of healthier food choices on my plate.
Inside I cringed, not knowing how to reply. I saw the dessert table laden with yummy blueberry cake, some kind of cheesecake type truffle and all sorts of brownies. Ahhhhhh! Chocolate, my true weakness. I really don't have much will power when it comes to resisting sweets.
The apostle Paul said it well in Romans 7: 17-20 "But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. " (The Message)
Honestly - I've been dieting long enough that I know what foods are healthy to eat. And I know that a serving of vegetables about the size of my fist is approximately a cup. I know what foods are high in fat, carbs and calories. But as I stand in that food line at church and look at all those succulent goodies, something happens to all my resolve - it disappears and I just want to taste everything in sight, regardless whether it is healthy or not - just like Paul said.
So if it isn't will power that keeps me going, what is it?
It is a combination of many things:
a. Knowledge - knowing what foods to choose.
This learning curve is a constant process. Each day I get e-mails from Spark People with new recipe ideas to help me eat better, new exercises I can try to help me with strength training and information on the latest medical news about conditions like my high blood pressure. The more I stay informed and keep that information in front of my face, the more it helps me say no to the unhealthy food choices around me.
b. Motivation - wanting to lose weight and knowing why I want it so much.
I set mini goals for myself, then each day I log my food intake. Once a week I log my weight loss to see where I am at or what I might need to do to change my eating and exercise habits so I can reach my goal. Again, by keeping my goals in front of me, it is easier to stay on track and I am motivated to make better choices.
c. Support - knowing I am not alone in my weight loss struggles; knowing that there are others praying for my success and especially knowing the Lord is there to help me whenever I call.
Support brings accountability as I meet with others who are working to lose weight too. We report in to each other, sharing our successes and failures. We reward each other with encouraging words and sometimes little tokens that say, "Way to go!" When I fail, they're there to say, "It's not the end of the world. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again." When they are down, it is my responsibility to do the same for them.
Likewise, the Lord is there cheering me on with forgiveness for my failures and loving encouragement as I learn to be a better steward of this wonderful body He has given me.
These principles apply to my Christian life too. It is my goal to grow and develop a more intimate relationship with the Lord. But I can't do that by sheer will power to avoid those things which aren't pleasing to Him or aren't good for me spiritually. When I try to do it on my own, I fail miserably every time.
I need to continually immerse myself in His Word and pray to keep Him close at all times. I need to WANT TO change and live for Him. And I need His constant presence and help through the dark times along with support from fellow believers who will pray for me when I can't pray for myself, lift me up when I fall and encourage me when I succeed. We so desperately need each other in the body of Christ!
Thank You Lord. It's not by my own strength and knowledge; it's not by my own will power. But rather it's by setting my sights on You, learning all I can and accepting help from those supportive others around me that I will succeed both in my weight loss efforts and in my spiritual growth. Help me to be an encourager to others on their journey as well! Amen.