“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”– 2 Timothy 1:7
I have recently joined the throng of the carb-conscious, cholesterol-conscious Americans.
Having spent most of my life eating fairly healthy, but able to eat pretty much anything, this has been a big challenge. I have spent the last two weeks overhauling my diet, which has been difficult to say the least. And I find, there are always temptations to distract me from my goals.
On Saturday, I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. Beautiful cookies, crisp on the edges, chewy on the inside, lined my cookie racks on the countertop. Last year at this time, I made the same cookies, and sent a birthday care package to my son at college in Chicago, where they were greedily devoured. I planned, I bought the ingredients, and I churned out dozens of cookies to package up and send to him this week. Literally after putting the cookies away into containers, I talked with him and learned that he didn’t want any packages sent. The mail service at school wasn’t always that great, he wasn’t always able to check his mail, etc…. bottom line, he didn’t want the cookies!
So now I sit, with several containers chock-full of little discs of major fat, sugar, and carbs. We have eaten some, I gave some away, and I decided to freeze a bunch of them (out of sight, out of mind). And that is where a little word comes to mind: Restraint.
“Restraint” comes to mind in many situations in life. I have been digging deeply to find restraint as it pertains to food. I have limited myself to healthier menu options at restaurants this past week, healthier snacks, and healthier food choices. Though it’s been hard, I must say that I am feeling much better. Between increased exercise and better carb control, I have felt better, had more energy, slept better, and had less stress and anxiety. And for all that, it has been worth it.
Restraint is difficult. And our culture provides so many ways to test it. Whether it’s spending hours on Facebook, our phones, streaming movies, eating too much (or the wrong types of food), watching the news too much, drinking too much, or any other activity we overindulge in, it’s hard to pull back. It’s hard to step away.
What I have found is that restraint is something to be cultivated. And when it is, there are often benefits– better health, better outlook on life, better functioning with my fellow humans. And, I think, it opens the doorways to a more enriching faith life. I have more energy to serve. I have a better attitude towards people. I have more time to pray. And I need God’s strength to keep going. I need God’s guidance to re-channel habits and change my heart.
Where do you need to cultivate restraint in your life this week? How can you set a small goal to change direction in a more positive way? Whatever you face, know God’s strength is there for you and can help you along the way!
Prayer– “Gracious God, I am human and restraint is sometimes hard. Enter my life this week and give me the strength to say “yes” to you, and turn from things that do not give me life. I ask for your guidance and love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”