“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins”
II Peter 1:5-9
I’ve not been writing about my present journey a lot, and I guess the reason for that is we’ve been through it all already – twice. But my friend Liz has encouraged me to start writing about it… and if she can keep a daily journal with all that is going on in her life, I guess I can too…
Last night was a major blowout… not in terms of the program, or my “diet,” but rather in finances. I’ve went a little nutzz over the past month or so in spending – perhaps the spoiled little brat who is my inner child decided that if he can’t get the food he wants, he’ll find other ways to rule the roost. Anyway, it pretty much tanked what little restraint and control I had managed to learn about finances, and caused Vicki to hit the wall of frustration.
And I wept. Because the purpose of what I’m doing right now is not weight – it’s self-control and perseverance. Learning these two traits is so much more important than losing weight. (I’ll catch up the back story later, but let’s pursue this thought…) And this blowout shows that those two characteristics are NOT being learned. I’m losing pounds, but not gaining wisdom or understanding. And that makes me very frustrated.
This morning on the way to work, I realized what’s gone wrong…
Right now, I’m in a state of passive self-control and perseverance. See, if I stray from the medical fast I’m on, it changes my balances, takes my body out of ketosis, and I end up hungry, out of balance, and not feeling well. I can drift a little bit – a bit of lean meat here, some cheese there – but if I wolf down a hamburger, it’s not gonna be pretty. So I’m exercising passive self-control – operating within a certain framework, but not being the one who decides the framework. I can go over the bounds, but know if I do things won’t work well – thus, deciding not to binge and break the fast is a small amount of self-control and perseverance, in a passive form.
What is needed is active self-control and perseverance. The kind that comes into play when no one is watching you. NOT snatching a handful of brownies when you’re alone. NOT eating a bag of cheese curls when you’re the only one in the building. CONTINUING to do this day after day, week after week, year after year. This is what is mentioned in II Peter.
And that active self-control and perseverance is what I so sadly lack. And what I so desperately need.
Since the path I’m on is not producing these traits in an active form, how do I develop them? For make no mistake – the active strong exercise of self-control and perseverance is what He desires for me, and nothing less. I could just say, “well, I’m learning it in baby steps – practicing passive self-control and perseverance is better than nothing…” But can I be sure that eventually it will grow into an active form that gets stronger every day? And, knowing the lazy son-of-an-Olson that I am, with the voice of my spoiled brat inner child screaming in my ears, I seriously doubt that I’m capable of turning this passive obedience into active obedience.
Perhaps that’s where God steps in… As Jeff Manion said in the sermon that got me started on this whole process, “This is not work that God will do for you or without you, but He will do it with you and through you. You have to get into the game.”
“Lord, help me. I know that left on my own, my desire to obey You and to grow in You would remain passive, lifeless, and would never produce the results You so desire. Thank You for allowing me to see where the problem is – now grant the grace and strength to do what I can’t do myself. Together, we can turn this from passive to active self-control and perseverance, so that I can take another step on Your path for me. Kýrie, eléison; Christé, eléison; Kýrie, eléison. Amen.”