I doubt I was alone in making some decisions to eat healthier, exercise more and generally take better care of myself at the start of this new year. I impressed myself for the first 4 or 5 weeks, making good choices and exercising what felt like super-human will power and restraint. And then several things happened seemingly all at once causing me to not only fall off the wagon, but to land squarely on my face doing it. A date night, Girl Scout cookie sales time, a Valentine’s Day banquet following a vow renewal at our church, a family trip to San Antonio and my son’s birthday brought me lots of opportunities to consume foods and beverages that aren’t optimal for health. All those activities left me little time to work out, but it hardly mattered because all the wasted calories completely drained my energy.
Last Saturday evening, as I was picking at what remained of my son’s birthday cookie, I couldn’t help thinking, “This is it, I’ve gone and done it now, relapsed into my old bad habits.” Then the devil on my shoulder whispered, “It would be wasteful to throw just it away. May as well finish it, now.”
Sunday after church, it just seemed like the thing to do to go out for lunch with the family, especially since I couldn’t think of a single thing we had at home to eat. I could easily blame the restaurant my boys selected for not having a single vegetable on the menu aside from lettuce and salsa on my tacos and the avocado in my guacamole, but the truth is I didn’t have to eat ALL of it. Even though we had a delightful family meal together and I had no dishes to do, I left feeling miserable, overstuffed, and bloated.
When we returned home that afternoon, all I wanted to do was take a nap.
Monday morning rolled around and I found that the excitement I had been feeling in previous weeks about seeing progress on the scale had been replaced by a somber trepidation. I don’t even want to know… What if I’m all the way back where I started? 6 weeks of denial wasted in one week. Countless hours of yoga and walking, kickboxing and swimming, elliptical, biking and kettle bell routines down the tubes. All that time and effort to log every morsel of food I consumed was squandered, not to mention the money I spent on a silly tracking device.
So, instead of stripping down, I turned away from the scale and brushed my teeth. I chose not to condemn myself, but rather to extend the grace I would to a friend to the woman in the mirror.
Downstairs, I was greeted by a few texts from a friend who has been relentlessly encouraging me along the way. She lives in a time zone an hour ahead of me, so I saw them all at once.
The first one made me cringe. She wrote, “How was your weekend?” A sort of code talk for “What did you eat and did you get a workout in?”
Thankfully, she must have been on the same page as I that morning about grace because the second one read, “Scratch that. Forget about the past. What’s the plan for today?”
I thanked her for not making me detail my dismal weekend failures, but unfortunately, I didn’t really have a plan for the day. I had two back to back morning appointments and the potentially icy conditions for the day made the 25 minute drive over several bridges to my usual Monday morning swim seem like an unwise choice. It was so tempting to just chalk that day up to another skipped work out and meals on the go, justified by the busy mom excuse.
Her next words struck me deeply. She encouraged me simply to care for God’s temple.
She thanked God for new starts and grace and forgiveness and then told me I was going to have an amazing week!
With her kind words still echoing in my mind, I grabbed the healthiest thing I could walking out the door. I did one good thing and it made all the difference in my day. After my appointments I came home and tackled some neglected chores around the house, then I picked up my kettle bell. And after swinging and squatting and lifting and twisting with it, I stepped up on my elliptical to sweat a little more. I did one good thing and it led to a string of good decisions.
When I get off track in other areas of my life, it can seem like such a momentous task just to find my way back gain.
When my house is so unkept it is far from the haven I wish it could be.
When I feel isolated because I haven’t put any effort into developing friendships.
When my kids and I are at odds over a never-ending string of homework, clutter and disagreements.
When my husband and I feel distant after too much time facing the TV instead of each other.
When I feel far from God after neglecting prayer and His word for too long.
When a sin eats away at my soul.
I don’t have to take on a full spring cleaning, host a social, plan an intervention, attend a marriage retreat, or go on a spiritual sabbatical. I can do just one good thing. Unload the dishwasher. Send a text message. Hug my boys. Tell my husband I love him. Open my bible. Accept God’s grace. Do just one small good thing and see what it leads to next. I think one of Satan’s most despicable deceptions is convincing us that we are too far gone to save, that we would have so much work to do to get back that it just isn’t worth the effort. He tells us to take the easy way out, to do what you’ve always done, to just indulge yourself a little. The problem is that one bad choice, generally leads to more and gives weight to Satan’s taunting that we’ll never make it. But if you read my post yesterday, you already know that you CAN get there from here. The Way has already been paved.
None of us have reached perfection yet and we will certainly see setbacks, failures and derailments this side of heaven. However, if we accept the forgiveness freely given to each of us by God (Colossians 1:13-14), remember that in Christ we are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17), forget our past mistakes and reach forward, press on toward the goal, then on that last day we will hear the upward call (Philippians 3:13-14). God’s grace comes first, but we determine what to do next. We must choose to do one good thing, not to earn our salvation, but because we live motivated by Christ’s sacrifice for us. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
Where in your life is Satan trying to convince you it’s too hard to go? If you could do just one good thing today, what would it be? Who can you enlist to help you?
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
“and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15)