And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is the scale a stumbling block?

I really appreciate the blogs I’ve read on the use of the scale. Some women have decided to give them up altogether because of their potential for making them stumble. I applaud that. The closer we come to the point where we see ourselves as God sees us, the better—and God doesn’t see us as a number on the scale. He sees our hearts.

I used to feel insecure because of my weight. In my mind, I could see this lineup of women, and I was standing at the wrong end of the line—the unacceptable end—the overweight end.

I felt self-conscious about my looks, and this made me self-conscious about my relationships. I worried that people wouldn’t like me because I wasn't "good enough." This often kept me from reaching out to others—at least the ones who intimidated me.

Even though I haven’t been heavy for awhile, I still sometimes see myself at the unacceptable end of the line because I don’t measure up to the world’s standards. I’m not sophisticated, I’m not fashionable (except for the rare occasion), and I don’t have a glamorous job. In fact, I don’t have a job at all.

I’m a home school mom, an occupation that carries its own stigma. Everyone has an opinion about home schooling and not all the opinions are good. At least in my own life, it hasn’t been a real self-image booster, even though it's been a delightful way of life.

So how do I get over my insecurity given my handicaps? Do I need to stop homeschooling and get a glamorous life? No, of course not. What I need to do is see myself (and my life) from God’s point of view. My insecurity sometimes interferes with loving others well, so it's an issue God wants me to work on. And I work on it, not by trying to look good in the world's eyes, but by working hard to see myself the way God sees me.

Every time I catch myself feeling insecure, I write down what I'm thinking - or what I think others are thinking about me. Then I compare those thoughts with God's thoughts.

Does He think I'm a loser because my outfit's not the greatest? No. Does He think I'm a failure because I gained a pound? No. Does He think I'm mean because I said something mean to that woman? Well, yes, He thought that was mean. I better apologize.

Sometimes these sessions lead to repentance, asking God to forgive me for my sin. Sometimes they lead to prayer, asking God to make me more like Him. And almost all the time they lead to a new view of myself as I lay down the standard of the world and pick up the standard of God.

God judges people according to their hearts (1 Samuel 16:7, Luke 16:15), and He's not crazy about the world's standards. It bothers Him when looks are valued more than character, when glamour is more important than godliness, and when a model-like figure is more desirable than a Christ-like love.

I think He probably grieves when He watches us judge ourselves by the world's standards, and then condemn ourselves because we don't measure up.

The scale can be a stumbling block, because it encourages us to see ourselves through the world's eyes. If we're going to step on the scale, we must be careful not to believe the lies that crop up when we see a number we don't want to see.

I'll be talking more about those lies in my next post. For now, though, try to see yourself through the eyes of the One who adores you—and if you're tempted to see yourself through the eyes of the world, watch out for the scale.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Alone in the House with Ice Cream and Rhubarb Bars

The kids are all gone at backpacking camps, and I’m alone in the house with a carton of Blue Bunny cookie dough ice cream and a Tupperware container filled with rhubarb cheesecake bars.

Not only that, I still have an hour and a half of writing to do for the day and a decision to make that I don’t really want to make—both of which make me feel like eating. Not to mention the fact that it’s late afternoon, that magical time of day when the things in the freezer often call out to us.

But I’m not listening. Let me take that back—I was listening, but not anymore. Why am I not listening? Because I decided to truth journal about it (before I actually ate anything, for a change), and I no longer feel like eating.

This is what I wrote:

Beliefs: 1. Some ice cream would be good right now. 2. I deserve it after such a hard day. 3. And since I still have more than an hour of writing to do.

Truths: 1. It would be good for about FIVE MINUTES!!! After that it would make me feel bloated, uncomfortable, crummy when I wake up tomorrow morning, and weigh more than I want to weigh. Is that all worth five minutes of enjoyment? (I actually capitalized the five minutes again in my journal, but I’ll spare you that.) No, the answer is no. 2. Some days will go like this. If possible I need to devote my mornings to writing, so I don’t have any left by afternoon. But when I think of the collective suffering in the world, I’m one of the lucky ones. 3. That hour of writing is an opportunity for me to share in the sufferings of Christ(ouch).

Then I truth journaled about the decision, since that was another thing that was making me want to eat. And you know what? I didn’t feel like eating anymore by the time I was through.

There’s two things I think are really important to keep from giving in to emotional eating.

They are:

1. Start working on your emotions. If you only journal about the food, you'll be in danger of turning to some other bad habit to escape your emotions. If you learn to go to God for your emotions, you'll see things from His point of view and the negative emotions themselves will go away. Journaling about both the writing and the decision today gave me peace about both of those.

2. Make a commitment to journal or pray Scripture before you eat outside your boundaries – even if you’re already planning to eat. Just say to yourself, “That’s okay – I can still have the bowl of ice cream (or whatever), I just need to renew my mind first." More often than not your desires will change, but if they don’t you have nothing to lose. You can go ahead and eat what you were planning to eat.

Why don’t you give this a try and see how it goes? I actually got interrupted while I was writing this so it’s been a couple of hours since I was tempted by the ice cream. And I still haven’t felt like eating anything. I’m not using will power to avoid eating – I just don’t feel like it anymore. Because I’m believing the truth. But I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t taken the time to find it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Brilliant New Anti-Procrastination Technique

I think I’ve found the secret to overcoming procrastination. And yes, I think it’s going to change my life. Would you like to hear what it is? Okay, here goes—are you ready? Picture a drumroll . . . here it is . . .


Make a list, and . . . (here’s the brilliant part) . . . don’t put anything on the list that you dread doing!


Now, I can just imagine what you’re thinking . . . That is such a dumb idea. How will you get anything done if you only do the things you want to do? Somehow, that doesn’t seem very brilliant—or responsible, for that matter.

Well, let me put your fears at rest and tell you that I’m not suggesting you stop doing the things you dread doing. What I'm suggesting is this: take the item that you don’t want to do and break it up into small steps—then, and only then, put it on the list—but don’t put the whole job on the list, just put the small step on the list! Now, do you see what a brilliant idea it is?

Let me show you two different lists, so you can see how it works. First, I’ll show you the list I actually wrote yesterday. Then I’ll show you the list I would normally have written.

List #1
Unpack: Computer case, suitcase, red bag, black bag
Put away suitcases
Weed: 20 weeds in carrot patch
Tidy: Living/dining room, kitchen
Do dishes
Look for graduation card for Sterling (I hadn’t come up with my brilliant new plan yet a month ago when I should have sent this card).
Paperwork: Take care of 5 pieces of mail.
Rhubarb: Pick 5 pieces and chop them up for freezer.
3 hours writing

List #2
Tidy house
Send grad card to Sterling
Freeze rhubarb.
3 hours writing

See the difference in the two lists? The second one is shorter, but it’s much more intimidating. Why? Because I know very well that it would take hours and hours to bring the paperwork, gardening, and housework up to my perfectionist standards. In fact, the idea of it would be so overwhelming that I probably wouldn’t even bother trying. Instead, I’d force myself to tidy up and unpack, but that would be about all I’d get done.

The beauty of the first list is that it takes perfectionism out of the equation. When I see that all I have to do is just a little bit, all of a sudden, I don’t mind doing it. And what usually happens is I do much more than is on the list. But the really great thing is this: I complete the list. I don’t get discouraged. And slowly, but surely, I get those dreaded jobs done.

If you struggle with procrastination, why don’t you give this method a try? Make your list, but don’t put anything on the list that you’d likely procrastinate. If it’s something you don’t like doing, just put a small step on the list even if you really have to do the whole job that day.

Here’s an example. Today I had to make rhubarb cheesecake bars for a potluck we’re going to tonight. Instead of putting make rhubarb bars on the list, I put find rhubarb bar recipe and get ingredients out on the list. It may sound simple, but it really works. (My rhubarb bars are sitting in the refrigerator as we speak.)

Now, you may wonder why I didn’t say write one sentence instead of write three hours on the list. That’s because it’s a daily job that I don’t really dread doing. What I do with a job like that is to put six different “30s” on my list. Then each time I write for 30 minutes, I check one of the 30s off. It often takes me until late afternoon to get all of my writing done, but it’s not something I put off and never do like some of the other things on my list (thanks to hours and hours spent truth journaling when I first started writing).

Anyway, I hope this idea helps you as much as it has helped me. I’m still in the early stages of it, but it seems like it will be life changing if I can just remember to keep making a list each day.

Well, I better get going. I still have to pick out a card for Cheryl and address the envelope and write a message on the graduation card for Sterling. I better get busy. After all,who knows? I might just go wild and decide to finish both cards and mail them today!