Thursday, April 28, 2011

Diet as a metaphor

I'm working on losing weight, which isn't much fun, but neccessary nonetheless. It can be tough to stick with my diet (and by "diet" I mean, how I'm eating to lose weight, not some gimick or fad diet) even in the best of times, but my husband left town for a conference this morning and he won't be back until Sunday.

Being on my own with the kids for four days isn't that big of a deal, although I do miss my husband terribly. But not having that relief come walking through the door around dinner time makes my evening a little more tense than I'd like. Tonight I found myself raising my voice and getting frustrated over things because I was just done. My daughter was throwing her food on the floor, the boys were complaining about dinner and all I could think about was how much longer it was until bedtime.

That, and the mountain of Easter candy in my pantry.

I really, really wanted to dive into all that chocolate and ease some of my stress with creamy goodness. It was so tempting. We have some good stuff in there. But I knew that I didn't have any calories left after dinner (I keep track of my calories and set a target for each day) and I already splurged a little last night before my husband left town. So another splurge wasn't a good idea if I want to make any progress in the weight loss department. Heck, I wasn't even hungry.

I am happy to say, I resisted the urge to throw caution to the wind and indulge in a bunch of chocolate. I did have a couple M&Ms as I handed out an after dinner treat to the kids, but a couple M&Ms was not what I had in mind at that moment. Tthe whole thing got me thinking about how much the discipline for me to resist those urges and temptations is like a metaphor for the whole spiritual journey we're all on.

It brought to mind a verse in Matthew:

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few." Matthew 7:13-14

It would have been easy, and immediately satisfying, to have a handful of chocolate. It would have tasted good and I would have enjoyed it quite a bit - in that moment. But what happens after that moment? After I've convinced myself that it's no big deal, it's ok, I can have just a bit and it won't hurt? After the momentary pleasure goes away, what am I left with? I feel guilty for having eaten too much. I'm frustrated with myself because I know I can't eat like that and make any progress. I realize the cost wasn't worth the moment of pleasure I got out of eating all that chocolate.

The gate was wide, and easy. And in the moment, it was nice. But the consequence wasn't worth the reward.

Lightbulb moment!

Things that give us temporary pleasure are sometimes fine. But sometimes they aren't the right choice, they're just the easy choice. If we always follow the easy path, it can lead only to destruction. If I ate chocolate in copious amounts every time I got stressed, I'd weigh a ton, putting my health and well being at risk. In the moment, I'd feel good, but that momentary pleasure would come at far too great a cost. But if I discipline myself to eat well and not eat junk out of stress, in the long run I will be healthier, and as a result much happier, than I would be if I indulged in every stress induced craving that strikes.

So it is the same with many things in this life. The easy way is often very enticing, and the immediate gratification is tempting. But what are we left with when that moment passes? Guilt, frustration, anger at oneself. It impedes our progress, keeping us stuck in a never ending cycle that only leads downward. If we always take the easy path, the wide gate, we won't keep growing or turning toward God.

And that was a lot more satisfying than the chocolate.

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