It just goes to show: Never brag. A couple of days ago I wrote a weight loss update in which I mentioned that when I tried to drop a pound, I hadn't been able to do it without effort, and (not really wanting to make the effort) I hadn't pushed it. "But I'm holding pretty steady, and that's okay," I wrote.
So, a couple of days after I'd been traveling, I suddenly saw my weight SPIKE. Probably water, most of it; but my experience is that if I don't reverse it quickly, the water weight sticks around and becomes non-water weight. Maybe a better way of putting this is that I suspect that the first sign I'm beginning to store some fat is a sudden episode of water retention. Only a hypothesis, and only about me -- but still. I was alarmed, and even more alarmed the next day when it didn't go away but was higher.
How big a spike? Well, I've been a stable 113 pounds for about six weeks, but one morning the scale said 116, and the next 116.6 . Yow! I haven't seen either of those numbers for a long while. And I have a philosophy about the scale: don't bother too much about daily ups and downs, except when I see a number I haven't seen in a while. I notice those. The big ones scare me.
Like, really scare me. Lie-awake-in-bed-sweating scared.
And maybe here's the right time to mention a significant spiritual struggle. Gluttony was a real problem for me, and somewhere between my asking and God answering and my work to meet Him where He wanted me to go, it's not a problem for me (much) anymore. Yay me! Except: enter vanity. I am now seriously, seriously afraid of regaining weight. I like the way I look and feel now. I am proud of myself -- not necessarily in a good way. Am I diligent about getting to the gym... or obsessive? It's hard to tell the difference.
It's only natural to be pleased with my success so far. There is, I am sure, a correct attitude somewhere, where I could be grateful to God for the gift of self-control, diligent in my stewardship of the health I have been graced with, pleased to adorn myself attractively for my husband and to reflect to the world my inward happiness and peace, and still unattached to the world and to my flesh. I am not there. I fear that I have made thinness and physical health an idol.
Maybe it's always been an idol for me, but it was perhaps safer when I couldn't attain it. Now it's my precious, y'know? And I think the surest proof that it's really a problem is this: I pray earnestly, "Please Lord, take away my vanity...." and what pops up in the mind is "...but even more than that please please please don't do it by making me fat again." Don't make me choose between You and my body, I mean. But I know darn well that God has already made me choose between Him and my flesh.
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."
Oh yes, I know what THAT means.
And meanwhile I keep looking for a way around it.
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If any of my readers think of gluttony as a big spiritual problem for themselves, then maybe this sounds self-indulgent. Wish I had your spiritual struggle instead of mine, Erin! But bear with me. Back when I was fat, it was really obvious that food was a sort of idol for me. Looking back at those struggles back then, they seem so simple compared to these crazy mind games. Simple, simple struggles of the flesh versus the spirit. All I had to do was deny the flesh! Just like it says in the Bible! It wasn't easy to do, always, but it was easy to understand. Such a childish little weakness, wanting more cake. Now I struggle with spirit against spirit -- it's not myflesh that makes war against God's will, but instead my love for my flesh. So much harder to root out cleanly.
Gluttony isn't that complicated to fix (it's tough, but uncomplicated), because you only have to change something visible. Your attitude doesn't have to change right away. You can will your fist to put down the plate, and your heart can let go later, when it sees that it is safe feeding on the Lord. But now I have to change something invisible, while not changing the visible all that much. Can my heart let go of the idol of health, while my decisions and actions still responsibly preserve it? What does that look like? Does it look like anything at all, or is it entirely within? How? If I could only drive this demon out by prayer and fasting -- but on fasts, this demon grows sleek and strong.
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Today, vanity or no, I'm controlling calories and experiencing hunger. I am thankful for obedience, which relieves the heart of some of its responsibility to ferret apart good and bad intentions. It only makes sense to follow through with my plan to respond to a weight spike with careful attention to my food intake.
At the same time, I am troubled by the intensity of my worry, and I wonder if I can somehow find peace. I know, rationally, that the answer is not to set my heart on thinness and health and youth and beauty -- even though these things are often rewards of a disciplined life, I must not love them. I must love God more. And He has not yet asked me to choose between Him and those things -- except in the tiniest possible ways, just enough to chide me, to show me where my heart lies.
I must be willing to lose it all, cheerfully. I am not willing. And yet I must be willing. And I'm not.
"He went away sorrowful; for he had many possessions."