I have raised the white flag on my saintly efforts to pray away my unhealthy food habits. It ended up going badly. Like epically bad. Instead of gaining victory, I gained 5 lbs! Once again, I am picking myself up from the dirt and letting Jesus minister to me about the experience. In true Jesus style, He did not let this debacle be a wasted effort because I also gained a lot of insight.
I have had a heap of change in my life since I became a Believer. True, lasting change that I did not expect or initiate. I no longer crave drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy relationships. I genuinely care about people and try to help others. That may not seem like a big deal but had you met me before, you would know I’m as different as night and day. More specifically, from darkness to light. But as I ponder all the tremendous changes, I realize they were all effortless. All true and lasting change in my life has been effortless. It’s been Him through and through.
But I still have areas of my life I want Him to transform. My eating habits have bugged me the most, but I have other rough areas I’d like Him to help me with. I tend to pick my fault de jour and try to scripture and prayer it out of me. It’s never worked. I’m starting to understand why.
Jesus wants us to cast our cares on Him because He cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). However, He does not invite us to bring Him a struggle and ask Him to help us struggle with it. I don’t always see things from His perspective when I find my faults and bring them to Him. As Fracios du Toit says, “The light of the gospel does not reveal sin; it reveals our freedom from it.” Restated, all these things I don’t like about myself were already dealt with on the cross. My sins and struggles have been defeated.
Our propensity is to want to fix ourselves. And when we focus on defeated things, we get a defeated mindset. We begin striving to make ourselves fit our own idea of perfection. We forget that whatever is true about Jesus is equally true about ourselves (1 John 2:8). That’s why this thing takes faith because we see all we aren’t and have difficulty believing He has made us new.
As a therapist, I know we often identify ourselves by our struggles and hurts. As a Believer, I know that Jesus wants us to identify ourselves by His struggles and hurts. Specifically by the things He endured and overcame on our behalf. His death, burial, and resurrection prove that our struggles are defeated. Some we see on this side, others we may not see until we meet Him face to face.
Amusingly, I felt Jesus say to me in my spirit that I could feel free to diet if I wanted to; I just shouldn’t involve Him in it. I laughed out loud on that one because it showed me that I tried to make my fleshly desires of perfection into saintly desires to get Him to juice it with His grace. In other words, I tried to manipulate Jesus into changing me. Five pounds later, I recognize the futility of my efforts.
Here’s the caveat, Jesus may still change my eating habits the way He changed my desires for drugs and everything else. But when He does, He won’t need my help. It says in Philippians that God gives us the desire to do what pleases Him, and then He gives us the power and grace to carry it out. I still believe He wants me to go to Him instead of cookies, but until He gives me the ability to do that, my efforts will make things worse.
Does that mean I’m giving up dieting and fitness programs? Nah, I probably have a few more futile efforts in me before I fully exhaust myself. I just know better than to try to manipulate Him into changing me before He’s ready. In the meantime, trips around the same mountain can be great exercise! I can finally get my step count to 10,000!