Archive for September, 2012

I have heard people say that after abstaining from sugary foods for an extended period of time they stop craving the sweet stuff altogether. This is not anything I have ever experienced. Rather, I crave food that is bad for my body ravenously. I do this because I have a habit and I have never put forth the effort to discipline my mind and body to reign in my cravings and heal myself of the need. Of course it’s not just sugar. I crave all sorts of processed, overly salted, fatty goodies and I regularly indulge…but doesn’t nearly everyone? Surely my intake ranks far below the overindulgence of that person over there ordering a large vanilla cone after they finished their Big Mac Meal. Goodness! I would never consider such a thing. Too many calories! My moderate self-control, combined with the comparison to another junk food junkie helps to dampen my guilt and makes me feel better. After all, I left like five over-cooked french-fries in the bottom of the box. Ah ha! See, I do have the self control to not completely stuff myself with food that is harmful to me…I’ll just sneak in some chocolate a little later to cut the salt and grease residue left in my mouth from the fried food. I’m still doing good, right?

I justify a lot of things through the phrase, “everything in moderation.” What that tells me is that if I show at least a little control, then I can safely indulge in nearly whatever bad habit I choose. I wonder, though, if true moderation is a lot more drastic and requires a lot more discipline than that. Maybe the only way  to really control what I crave is to completely abstain from it. Alas, but where in the world will that willpower come from? I certainly don’t come by it naturally.

But this post is not just about junk food. I realized this morning that I give in to other temptations in a way similar to my dependency on  food that is ultimately poisonous to my body.

Aside from food, my brain is also addicted to what is unhealthy for both my spirit and mind, and oh how I feed those insatiable habits.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil. 4:8)”

I spend so much of my thought processing doing the complete opposite of this. I lack discipline of my thoughts in the same manner that I lack control of my body’s cravings. I have realized that my mind is as ravenous an animal as my body. The more it tastes something bad for it the more it begins to crave. For example, there is so much junk food for our brains available to entertain us. Yes, we may get large enjoyment from indulging in a book we should never be reading, or watching a movie we should never have even begun, but there is never any long term satisfaction in it. Instead, giving into the temptation to feed ourselves with trash only causes us to crave more of it and with more intensity.

Junk entertainment isn’t the only way to feed and poison our minds. We/I can also indulge ourselves with ugly thoughts. Thoughts like these,

“I am so angry with that person because they did this to me.”

Or, “I hate the way I look. It’s not fair that she inherited perfectly slender legs and with my genes I’m stuck with legs that bulge out of my jeans.”

“If I had been given the same opportunities as them I could be just as successful.”

“Why doesn’t he ever listen to me?! He just doesn’t care.”

“I never have time for myself. I have to give all of my time and efforts to everyone else.”

These are just a tiny sampling of junk food thoughts. I’m sure I could think of a million more to regularly feed and indulge in. And like “Connect the Dots,” when I begin with one bitter thought I usually and easily connect it to another thought and unforgiven circumstance until I have worked myself into a state of bitterness and anger. Not a pretty picture!

Ugly thoughts like these might give us temporary satisfaction. Sort of like the “satisfaction” a toddler gets when throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get what he wanted. However, if those thoughts and actions are left unleashed they are incredibly destructive to us and just like the toddler, if we aren’t disciplined, one bad behavior will lead to the next and will probably be even tougher to beat. Like sugary foods, ugly thoughts are addictive and one taste will probably lead to another taste and then another, leading to dependency and overindulgence.

How can we control this war of both mind and body? I sometimes feel so completely defeated in all aspects. I am the last person who should lecture on maintaining a healthy diet and what steps to use in avoiding unhealthy foods. However, it really boils down to temptation and giving into a sinful nature just like surrendering to impure and unhealthy thoughts and means of entertainment.

Therefore, we can first seek God. He never promised that we alone would be strong enough to resist temptations, but He did say that with His help we have that strength. Memorizing and repeating scripture will help when we are confronted with bitter thoughts and unhealthy cravings. For me, keeping my “house clean” also dramatically helps. To explain, when my house is empty of junk food I can easily resist a temptation that I don’t have access to. In the same way, I can try and keep my thoughts clean. I can avoid entertainment that serves only to tear down instead of build up (truthfully, I am terribly uncommitted to this one in some aspects,) and I can realize that indulging in an ugly thought will probably lead to a buildup of anger and that I should quell the thought before it dirties my “house.”

There are so many awesome scriptures that deal with resisting temptation. Here are just a few that might be committed to memory and repeated when needed:

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Matthew 26:41
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

Luke 11:4
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.

Luke 22:45-46
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.


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