Newsflash: I’m an adult, and I can eat whatever I want whenever I want, and I wish someone would take this power from me.
Every year during the 100-days-of-holidays1 I eat too much sugar and salt. Salty things are my favorite, as they are for one of my brothers. Probably because salty snacks make me feel worse at a slower rate than sugary things. (Make that high-fructose-corn-syrupy things.) If there is a bowl of pretzels, or nuts, or jerky, out on the counter, it will be consumed faster than it took you to read that last paragraph.
So I run.2
Well, that’s not the only reason why I run 5-6 days a week. I really enjoy running, so there’s that. And other good and somewhat terrible reasons too.
But during the holidays—from Thanksgiving, to Christmas, to parties such as watching football on New Years and the like—I snack too much. Even loved ones get me salty and/or sugary gifts and say things like “I know you like these,” and “you don’t seem to gain weight.”
Wait a second. Yes, I like these, a lot. A lot too much. (And I gain plenty of weight during the holidays, but who’s counting besides me?) The snacks aren’t the problem. The problem is I eat them too fast. Why can’t I restrain myself?3
In any case, I turned to my wife yesterday and said what she was about to say: “How about you hide these from me? Can you hide these from me?” We agreed that I would have an appropriate ration, after I have forgotten about them.
The point is: sometimes we need to give people authority in our lives to help us grow into maturity. Sometimes we don’t have the willpower or motivation or even aptitude to make healthy decisions. This can be in areas of food, relationship, social media, exercise, or even growing spiritually. I’d say especially all of those.
Is there any area in life where “I’ll do whatever I want” actually turns out well? How about in the workplace? Or when teenagers try out their own wisdom? Or when that guy goes off at the DMV and cuts in line? How about 30-items-or-more lady in the express 15-items-or-less checkout line? Yep, all kinds of people consider themselves “exceptional,” but boundaries actually provide lots of freedom for all by setting us free from the bondage of ourselves. (Collective wisdom restrains the one by considering what’s best for all.)
The only flaws that can truly harm us are those we refuse to admit. Fear can keep you from admitting those flaws. Since others can see them (or at least feel the effects of our secrets), we do everyone a disservice when we don’t trade in that fear for another. What if you were afraid of not growing? I’m convinced that a healthy fear of failing in one area can be a helpful tool to bring a person back in line with reality.
We give others permission to hold us accountable when we are afraid we won’t do it on own own.
I’d say, if you are fearful about something, it may be that you need to take inventory why that (likely good thing) causes you so much anxiety. This could help you get a new plan for a New Year about a new way of living.
Indeed, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I don’t need anyone to tell me to exercise. Happy to be my own coach there. But in the area of food I need lots of accountability. To hand over the bag of snacks and say, watch me on this.
What’s that area for you?
And now I get to enjoy those Christmas snack gifts for many months to come. Excited about that.
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
—Hebrews 5:11-14 (ESV)
- Actually, I count 107 days from 10/31 spanning through 2/14. Those are the sugary holidays. ↩
- I exercise about an hour a day. Running stats: In 2014 I bested my year goal of 1,420 miles by more than 200 miles, and was out running for more than 250 hours total, plus another 102 hours on the bike. ↩
- John Owen writes, “Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.” ↩