Thursday, June 16, 2016

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

(...or something like that - I found fifty variations of this general idea, not sure which one is the "real" one. But you get the picture.)

Over the past few weeks, I've found myself drifting back into several old (bad) habits I thought I had left behind for good. The most obvious and disheartening is that I've started turning to food for comfort again. This has been accompanied by a general sense of discontentment and lack of joy.

The issue became glaringly apparent the last couple of times I went grocery shopping. First of all, I went without a list - this is NEVER good. Much to the delight of the many men of the house, I came home with a wide variety of treats and indulgences - items that haven't been seen in our cupboards for months, or even least not all at once!

(Now, I'm not saying that we never indulge in the occasional treat, because we do. But I have been trying to have only one treat-ish item in the house at a time, and usually things I don't particularly care for...)

My ultimate comfort and pleasure equation has always been books plus food. This combines two of my favourite activities, and always takes me back to my younger, relatively-carefree days. It's a form of escapism, really. Ironically, I can happily read without eating, but I hate to eat without a book in my hand. The problem with this practice, of course, is that one can consume many, many calories without even being aware of it.

I've tried umpteen times over the years to break this particular habit, with limited, temporary success at best. I have found that when I decide to eat without reading, there are lots of things that I just don't end up consuming. And that's a really good thing!

It's when a stressful situation arises that I run back to these vices. Every. Single. Time.

And guess what? Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of another stressful situation! Say it with me: "Duh, Joy!"

Our family is facing the possibility of a huge change this summer. It'd be a really good thing for us, but requires a major relocation. I've always liked moving - I'm up for it. We'd be closer to family, in a beautiful part of the country. That's not really the stressful part for me.

And if it doesn't work out? I'm good with that option, too. I love where we are right now.

What I've never been very good at dealing with is the waiting. We've been waiting for almost three months for a final word from the powers that be - though, to be fair, we have received encouraging signs along the way. But we're still waiting, though we're hopeful it won't be too much longer before a decision is made.

I've never had much sympathy for people who believe they're victims of their circumstances when they're really not. When they could just brace themselves and make different choices to change their situation. People who act like victims when they're clearly not victims drive me crazy.

But that's exactly what I'm doing! I'm acting as if I have no control over how I react to my circumstances. And I do! I so do! I always get to choose! Unconsciously, I've been using our present situation to justify slipping back into those comfortable, ugly old habits.

That's not to say it's easy. You know - all you brave souls who choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the face of overwhelming odds and temptations - you know. My metaphorical hat is off to you.

I really want to get back on the wagon, or is it horse? But even as I start formulating a plan of action, my lazy, indulgent side whispers discouraging, defeatist rhetoric - that I'll never really change, that it's not worth the effort, that it's too good to give up, that things are fine just the way they are, why even bother?

The thing is, I feel gross right now. When I eat good food in proper portions, my mind is clearer, my body functions more effectively, my energy levels soar - everything is just better! I know this to be true. So why the heck can't I, in the wise words of Nike, just do it?

That's the million dollar question, isn't it.

But guess what? I know the answer - I have the answer. In me. Rather than just trying harder, and inevitably failing sooner or later, I can relax and agree with what the Holy Spirit wants. It's more of a letting go, a leaning in... a bit from Philippians chapter three comes to mind, "It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose..." He wants to be my comforter, my strength.

Kinda sounds like a cop-out, doesn't it? In reality, I think it's the hardest thing of all - to consciously, deliberately, continually let go of my own agenda, my own desires, my own devices - and to embrace His, in spite of how my circumstances make me feel. (I am not at the mercy of my emotions, I am NOT at the mercy of my emotions, I AM NOT AT THE MERCY OF MY EMOTIONS!)

Well, thank you so much for the reminder, Joy! It's my pleasure, Joy - so glad you got there in the end. (This is why I write - so I know what I think...I'm not the only one who has these kinds of conversations in their head, am I??)

And so here, by the grace of God, we go - again!