I will keep obeying your Law
forever and ever.
I have gained perfect freedom
by following your teachings,
and I trust them so much
that I tell them to kings. Psalm 119:44-46
I am a food addict. I have struggled with overeating my entire life. I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m stressed. I eat when I celebrate. I salivate over dessert magazines the way some women salivate over the “Sexiest Man Alive” issue of People magazine. On vacations and holidays, food can often become the main event. The problem with being a food addict is that, with most addictions, it leaves you feeling worse about yourself than when you started.
A few years ago, I stepped onto the scale and found myself maxing out at almost 200 pounds. I had never been so heavy in my life, not even when I was pregnant! I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes. I was depressed. I hated myself. I felt like I had fallen asleep in the middle of my own life and I wanted to wake up again. Over the course of the next year, I began a weight loss program called Take Shape for Life. Through the program and support from my health coach, Tina, I was able to lose 60 pounds and have kept most of it off for over a year.
But more than the weight loss, I feel like I’ve come back to myself. I’ve found again the woman God created me to be. I’m more energized, more focused, more positive and fully awake. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with eating. There’s no magic wand that’s ever going to be waved to take away my desire for chocolate! But through discipline (yes, I said the “D” word!) I’ve learned to control those cravings and truly only indulge when it’s appropriate–not after every meal!!
A few months ago I had the great privilege of hearing one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, speak. She confessed that she was in the midst of a big writing project that required her to forgo sugar in order to better use her energies to complete her task. She noted that she absolutely could go back to her hotel room and eat 15 Snickers bars. But, she said, “there is amazing freedom in the discipline.”
“Discipline” is not a word we like to use much in our society. It has too many punitive connotations. It sounds too much like punishment. But discipline and punishment are not the same words at all. In fact, they’re quite the opposite.
Punishment is a negative consequence brought about because of an action. It is reactive.
Discipline, however, is an action taken by choice in order to reach a specific goal. Discipline is proactive.
In healthy eating, discipline is saying “I am going to choose to pass on the potatoes because the roasted vegetables are going to make me lethargic and I want to go shopping (gardening/swimming/hiking/back to work) after lunch.”
In healthy living, discipline is training our brain to adopt patterns and habits that are productive to doing the work God has placed before us. And when we train our brains to adopt those healthy patterns, i.e. discipline ourselves, then we have more freedom to live. We don’t get caught up in negative cycles of guilt, shame, fear, or failure. Discipline is not about denial. Rather, discipline is about engagement at it’s best level. Discipline leads to focus. It leads to purpose. It leads to productivity.
There is freedom in the discipline because we are consciously making choices in our lives that build us up rather than tear us down. When I discipline myself to read Scripture daily, to pray daily, to worship in church each Sunday, then I am making the choice to draw closer to God. And that, I think, can only lead to good things.
Most all of us have areas in our life where we need to engage in some proactive discipline. My friend and health coach, Tina, is a wonderful resource. I encourage you to spend some time on her website, which I have linked in three places above!! 🙂 In addition to great health resources, Tina also works as a professional life coach, helping people to live more fully into their purpose and potential.
The Psalmist wrote, “I will follow your teachings forever, Lord, because I have found absolute freedom within them.”
There is freedom in the discipline….let’s work on being free.
Blessings and Peace,