Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let Love Motivate You

What motivates you? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why do you send your children to school each day? Seriously, wouldn’t it be easier to yield to their whining and let them stay home? (Or, for us home schoolers, to say “Okay,” when they request to skip Math for the sixth day in a row?) Do you send them because you have to, or because you want something great for them?

What motivates you to stop at a red light? Is it fear of getting a ticket?

At some point in the past . . . ahem . . . well, since I turned 16, I quit fearing the police and began stopping at red lights because I understood the light was there to protect me. An authoritative figure within our government implemented this law to help traffic flow better and to help us reach our destinations safer and easier. As time passed and I stopped at more red lights, the urge to run the light diminished. And now, as a mother, I am very thankful for the law that requires me, and those around me, to stop at red lights. I approach traffic lights with confidence. I know my children are protected and safe because of that very light. I am no longer even remotely tempted to run it (even if I am late).

What motivates you to eat properly?

When we eat well because we fear the consequences, the effects do not last. Fear is a great motivator; but, it is typically short-lived. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look at our physical problems and evaluate the paths we are on. It may be that fear of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, sinus infections, back issues, etc. will prompt us to take a fresh approach to our diet. But if we allow that fear to be our main motivator, we cross over into legalism. It has become a “have to” we are enslaved to. The constantness feels like chains. “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” John 8:34 (NIV).

My motives for stopping at a red light changed as I understood the law and its purpose. In the same way, we need to change how we think about food and its purpose. Otherwise we have only exchanged one lie for another. Instead of believing “Only one won’t hurt,” or “I can cheat because it’s a celebration,” we now believe “If I eat this bad item, God will punish me,” or “Eating well is a sacrifice.” That is not freedom in Christ.

Freedom in Christ comes from choosing to obey God through His grace because we know He loves us - not because we feel an obligation or a fear. The more we understand His love for us, the more we love and trust Him. We grasp that He gives us His laws and commands, through His written word and prayer and others, to protect us, not enslave us. Then we can say, as the Psalmist, “I rejoice in following your statutes, as one rejoices in great riches.” Ps. 119:14 (NIV) Even if we don’t comprehend His specific purpose for us at this moment, we choose to walk in His path. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) As we walk on His path, we experience His peace and grace.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Motives

A short post today. But, hopefully, a thought-provoking one.


What motivates you to eat properly?

Fear?

Love?

Something else?

Spend some time contemplating and praying about the answer. I’d love to read your thoughts. I will expand on this topic in my next post.

Monday, October 11, 2010

God Provides Food for Pleasure

A few weeks ago, I brought up the fact that God provides food for our pleasure (not just to sustain life). I want to re-visit that topic.

After dealing with food issues for years it is hard to think of food objectively. I maintain a love/hate relationship with it. And the love part sometimes has negative effects. But so can the hate part.

Food becomes an idol when I use it to try to fill an empty spot, or to take away the pain, or to deal with a stressful situation, or (fill in the blank). However, while dieting, food becomes an idol when I count calories constantly or think about meals and snacks all day long. And while the diet typically serves its original purpose (lose weight), I don’t think I am any better off in the long run. What I am striving for is a healthy perspective on food – one in which I think about food only long enough to plan suitable meals/snacks and consume what is in front of me. A more grandiose goal is to enjoy the experience also.

I think one of the side-effects of an eating issue is the guilt associated with enjoying food. Dieting instills an almost paralytic effect. What I mean is food becomes taboo. So every time I put anything in my mouth I feel as if I am “being naughty.” Of course, that is ridiculous when weighed against the fact that food is what sustains us. And yet, the guilt still exists.

Is it unreasonable for me to simply enjoy food for food’s sake? I don’t think so. The key is education, balance, and motive. I have done enough research (through reading and experimenting on my own body) to have a clue how particular foods affect my temporary residence here on earth (read: my body). The balance comes into play when I remember that God created food for enjoyment as well as fuel for our bodies. And my motive should be to eat in a manner which optimizes the efficiency of my body (His temple) out of love for my Creator. What do you think?

Bon app├ętit.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is More Better?

A few days ago I read an interesting article while browsing the internet. A fellow believer writes that his wife deals with “chronic and super high pain levels” in her back on a daily basis. While my back issues have not elevated to this level, I can relate to trying anything and everything to diminish back pain (read Painful Rest – article link under my profile). With a doctor’s recommendation and under a doctor’s supervision, she decided to start a 500 calorie per day diet with the intent of losing weight to reduce pain. Her supportive husband is joining her on this venture. Please note: I am not advocating a 500 calorie per day diet for just any willy nilly reason. I repeat: her situation is unique and this couple is under a doctor’s supervision.

The author, Jason Elkins, lists a typical day’s diet. As one who has researched healthy foods and how different foods affect our bodies, I am impressed with how this couple stretches their calories to include such a varied list of good-for-you foods. (One more time, I am not saying you should start a 500 calorie per day diet.)

What struck me (and the part that relates to this blog) were the reactions from Mr. Elkins’ friends.

The comments from some well meaning friends have been interesting:

You can’t live on that.”
You’ll gain all of your weight back right away.”
500 calories is starving yourself and it won’t work.”
That’s not healthy dude.”

I thought for a long time about that last statement. “Not Healthy”… I calculated what I ate a few Saturdays ago.*
At this point, the author recounts meals from a day before beginning this diet. The pancakes, eggs, Quizno’s sandwich, take-out pizza and dessert add up to around 4000 calories. Wow.

Why are his friends suddenly take an interest, negative at that, in his food intake? Mr. Elkins theorizes, ”I think it’s part of our culture to ignore excess in things but be very concerned about lack.”** Ironically, Mr. Elkins’ more recent low-caloric diet probably has more nutrition than his previous high-caloric diet.

I think we become uneasy around something abnormal. We don’t know how to respond to behaviors that are “out of the box.” As a society, we are conditioned to believe that more is better. Therefore, less must be bad. So a 500 calorie diet must be worse than a “normal” diet (which may be up to 4000 calories). We don’t even stop to ask what the content of the diet is before drawing our deductions. Do you see the lie (more is better) and false conclusion (less is bad)?

Let’s re-condition our thoughts. Remember that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

Additionally, “’Everything is permissible for me’- but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’- but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12) Let’s not be mastered by our diet, be it good or bad, high in calories or low.

You can read "Lessons from a 500 Calorie a Day Diet" by clicking the article link under my profile.

* Elkins, Jason. "Lessons from a 500 Calorie a Day Diet." Transparent Christian Magazine When our lives reflect the brightest light, we become Transparent. . N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.

**Ibid.