Category Archives: Self-Control

Tangled Webs, Deception and Freedom

Right now there’s a lot of controversy surrounding a popular blogger who lied about some big things. No, I’m not that blogger. (Whew!) But I used to lie a lot. I still lie sometimes. I’ve been careful not to do it on my blog, but for a long time I lied to everyone. I get it. I’m not going to write a post defending her actions, but I do feel empathy toward her.

There are things from my past that are hard to talk about..hard to think about…that caused me to make mistakes that I shouldn’t have. Most people remember bright spots in their childhood, but I remembered the bad parts for a long time. I don’t talk about those things here because they’re too private. I don’t want to relive the past. I dealt with the issues, but I had to crash first.

I hit rock bottom a few years ago. I spent over a decade pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I didn’t do it because I felt the overwhelming need to impress everyone (though there were times when that was the case.) I did it I because my formative years were excruciating in some ways, and I became conditioned to be dishonest. I took responsibility for that a long time ago.

My sister grew up in the same place I did. We saw things that kids shouldn’t have to see, and we witnessed hurts that no one should have to endure. She didn’t become a liar. In fact, she grew into the opposite while I lied enough for the both of us.

I lied to get attention at times, but most of the time I lied because I didn’t realize that I could actually be who I wanted to be. I lived in a snowball effect of self-hatred, and it was easier to pretend that I was some  sort of impressive, elitist game changer than it was to pursue a path to become a person who facilitated change. I’m in my mid-thirties and just started figuring this out a few years ago even though it should have been obvious the whole time.

In short, it’s easy to say that lying is wrong, and it definitely is. The reasons that we do it just aren’t always quite so black and white. I didn’t do it to put one over on people, nor did I do it to be impressive. I lied because I despised myself and my life. I didn’t like the person I had become, and I felt completely worthless and helpless to change any of it. 

I lied for myself. It started as my attempt at self-preservation, and it turned into a way that I could feel loved (even though it wasn’t real.) I didn’t do it to hurt other people, but I did. I hurt people I was close to, many of whom forgave me without another thought. They allowed me to rebuild their trust, and now I have stronger relationships than I ever could have imagined.

There were a few who weren’t so gracious, and I get it. There are people who don’t think that I deserve forgiveness, and I realize that I have to accept that. I forgive myself anyway. I don’t need their approval the way I once did. Thankfully, most of the people in my life have shown grace.

I think that’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to God too. We all make mistakes; we all sin. (Romans 3:23) He offers enough grace and mercy to cover us every single day. I don’t have to live in shame and unforgiveness because Jesus paid the price for every single sin before I even knew I’d commit it.

The blogger I mentioned in the beginning of this post lied, and there’s no excuse for it. I’m just saying that I feel for her because I know how hard it is to stop lying once you start. I’ve been there, and I think that if we’re all honest, we’ve all been there. She took it too far, and I’m not defending her actions.

When I lied I didn’t do it because it was fun; I did it to cover up the emptiness, loneliness, isolation, guilt, lethargy and shame that I allowed to define me. I lied to cover those things up. I figured that it was easier to falsely impress someone at least for a while than it would be to let them know me because if they knew who I really was, what would there be to like?

I was tired of feeling lonely, but I felt lonely anyway. Lying didn’t bring me closer to people. It helped to create surface relationships, but nothing lasted because I couldn’t let anyone know who I was. I hate that I wasted so many precious years trying to make everyone like me. I regret wasting so much time before realizing that I’d rather have a few friends who genuinely know me and like me than to be surrounded by people who never scratched the surface.

When I started blogging I learned that I could be myself and that people would probably still like me. When I started making friends in New Orleans, I laid everything out upfront. I told many of my friends, starting with Clint (aka The Suit) and many people at NOLA Church, that it was hard for me to be honest. I explained that it was rarely my default response, and through lots of prayer and graciousness from the people sitting on the front row of my life, I began facing the truth and putting into practice. (James 5:16-17 is pretty clear about how to handle that.)

I’m still tempted to lie sometimes pretty often. (I proved that recently when I talked about my potential to enter into an adulterous thing in a previous post.) Sometimes lying feels easier in the moment, but it gets out of control quickly.

I am so thankful that I’m no longer a slave to the self-loathing and lies that I used to allow to define my existence. I’m so thankful for God’s incredible and unwavering mercy that allows me to live in freedom every day. I’m thankful for the second chance that I received, and I sincerely hope that the popular blogger gets a second chance as well.

*****

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:18 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

James 5:16-17

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Honest Look At My Weight

I lost four pounds last week. Having a schedule that requires me to plan what I’m going to eat has definitely been helpful, but I had mixed emotions after looking at some photos that my friend, Simone, took of me over the weekend. 

  

I know I’ve gained a lot of weight. I don’t beat myself up for it because that doesn’t lead to positive results (at least not in the long run.) I don’t try to hide it, nor do I feel sorry myself. My weight gain, which happened for the most part last year, came as a direct result of choices that I made. I’ve talked about them here many times before, so I’ll skip that today. 

The added weight feels more noticeable now that it’s back than it did before I ever lost it. I’m still thankful that I stopped myself before I gained it all back, but I’ve gained enough to feel a significant shift. It’s incredibly visible too when I look at photos of myself from 2010, 2011, and 2012 compared to now. 

It’s easy to get frustrated, but that won’t yield any postive results. It’s just hard to recognize and admit that I don’t look or feel how I want to. I dress well, and I am well-groomed. I don’t feel ugly. In fact, I’ve been feeling kind of pretty a lot lately. (Thank you, GwynnieBee.) I’m just still aware of changes that I need to make. 

Life is so much better than it was a few years ago. I’m more content on the inside than I’ve ever been, but I also know that there’s more work to do on the outside. I’m glad I lost 4 pounds this week. Now I’m working toward being smaller next week, which has happened several times this year. 

I know that if I shed some of the excess I’ll feel better than I do now even though I don’t feel awful (yet.) I’d rather see the scale move down than move up, and it seems like the only way to make that happen is to go back to tracking everything that I put in my mouth. I started doing that when I started my new position, and it definitely makes me more congnizant of what I’m doing.

It’s incredibly frustrating, but I don’t hate myself for messing up so much of the work that I put into getting healthy. The truth is that I love myself enough to see my needs here and to change them. 

This road is a long and tedious one, but I’m still here…still not indulging in everything I want and recognizing that I spent far too much time trying to fill the gaping hole in my heart with food again last year. 

Now I’m focusing more on seeing myself the way God sees me, and I’m asking Him to be strong in my weakness. He promised to do that before I ever asked, and now I’m finally starting to take Him up on it in several areas of my life (including this one.)

I’m bigger than I want to be, and I’m working toward fixing that. It’s not my top priority, but at least it’s back in my top 5. I need to incorporate exercise back into my daily life, which means I may have to skip other things. (More on that later.)

I have a long way to go, but it feels like I’m moving in the right direction. 

The Slippery Slope of Temptation 

We all know that sometimes doing the right thing is hard; sometimes it just sucks. I’ve been struggling with desires that aren’t exactly in line with what God wants for me (and by ‘not exactly in line’ I mean absolutely not in line with His will.)

I used to be really closed off. I know that’s hard to believe because I’ve been spilling my guts here for years, but it’s true. I like attention, and I don’t have to work hard to get it these days. That can be a good thing, but it isn’t always. 

I’d love to say that I don’t know what draws people to desire a friendship/relationship with me when I meet them, but I know exactly what it is. I have a pretty positive outlook. I have some cool characteristics to offer. I’m friendly, sincere, and I extend a lot of grace because it’s been extended to me. I listen more than I talk, which is a relatively new characteristic for me. (I’m still striving to improve that one.) In short, I’m kind of cool, blah,blah, blah…and I love people. 

A few months ago I met someone that I had seen nearly everyday for months prior. He’s tall and handsome, and I often felt the desire to pray for him even though I didn’t know him. Earlier this year a mutual friend introduced us, and a friendship was born. There hasn’t been a single day that we’ve crossed paths without him hugging me, having a seat, and exchanging stories about our day, our past, our favorite grocery store, etc. 

He’s adorable and easy to talk to, and lately I’ve found myself struggling to keep boundaries in place in my mind even though he’s married. We have absolutely not done anything inappropriate outside of my agreement with his acknowledgment that we need to be careful with each other. We’re always in public, and we’re typically surrounded by other people that I know who come in to chat. I’ve just noticed that I think about him even when he’s not there. (I’m thinking about him now, and he’s not here.) 

I’m acknowledging this here for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s the truth, and I face the truth now even when I don’t like it, and 2. Loving Jesus doesn’t mean that life suddenly becomes perfect. Yes, He paid the price for my sins, and He extended His grace because without it, I’d be damned to hell. I’m so thankful for that, but I still struggle with doing the right thing. Right now I’m struggling more than I’d like to admit, but I’m facing it anyway. 

Religion likes to make us believe that once we become believers that we’ll no longer have problems. Religion urges us to act as though we no longer face temptation. God didn’t promise that life would be filled with sunshine and rainbows. Actually, Paul said just the opposite. In some ways, at least in this moment for me, it’s harder to fight the desire to sin. I didn’t feel tempted nearly as often when Satan wasn’t bothered by me; now he preys on my weaknesses, so I have to be on guard constantly. 

I have no plans to act on any of the thoughts that have played in my mind over the last week or so, nor will I be throwing him on the floor to do ungoldly things at any point…ever. I just won’t. I value myself more than that, and I value my relationship with God a lot more than that. There are lines that I simply won’t cross, but it would be naive of me to think that I’m immune to falling on my face if I try to deal with this without inviting God into the situation. (God knows I’ve done it a million times in different circumstances.) 

The thing is…Jesus was very clear when He said that anyone who even looks at another person lustfully has already committed adultry in his heart. (Matthew 5:28) Ouch!

God takes repentance very seriously, yet I seem to be struggling with turning away from my sinful thoughts (which include a desire for more attention from him among other things.) Confessing these feelings won’t change anything unless I stop giving them space in my mind, yet I’m having trouble wanting to do that too. 

The man is often at a place that I frequent, and that won’t likely change in the immediate future. I like him. I want to be his friend. I want him to experience the love and grace that I’ve experienced since getting to know Jesus. I just need to get out of the way so that can happen. 

Proverbs 19:23 says that the fear of the Lord leads to life, and He who has it will abide in satisfaction. In Monte’s sermon yesterday, which was timely, he said that living satisfied is a choice. Jesus is all I need, and I know that if I focus on Him, he’ll work this out just as He has in every other situation. 

My goal is to focus on who He is, to worship Him, and to fill my mind with gratitude for that and all He’s doing. He’ll just have to take care of the rest, and He will because, you know, He’s God and everything. 

Sneaky Addictions

If you asked me if I struggle with addiction, my quick answer would be no. I’m not addicted to alcohol, and I’ve never even contemplated using drugs (with exception of that one time that I considered smoking something at a Pearl Jam show at Bonnaroo.)

Drugs and alcohol don’t do it for me. I enjoy a glass of champagne from time to time, and I’m not opposed to drinking a beer or two at a game or out with friends. It’s just not my thing, but ‘my thing’ definitely exists.

I don’t have caffeine daily, but I have it most days. When I spend a few days away from Starbucks, I get a fairly strong urge to go. It’s safe to say that my new found love for Passion Tango Tea (unsweetened) isn’t going to lead to waking up in an alley somewhere, but I do recognize that I could easily become addicted to Starbucks and those cute little gold stars if I’m not already.

Starbucks Passion Tango Tea

A few days ago I spent about an hour without access to my cell phone, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. At one point, I needed to call Dad, and I couldn’t. I also missed calls from Mom, who seemed a little worried that she couldn’t reach me (because I’m usually so accessible.) I couldn’t post a photo of something cool that I saw on Instagram, nor could I waste time wondering why Facebook wasn’t showing me anything new. I couldn’t text my friends to tell them how crazy it feels to be without my cell phone for an hour. The number of times that I reached for my phone, which wasn’t there, was ridiculous.

I’m addicted to food too, which is a tricky thing. We all need it to survive, but I often crave more of it than I should. I’m learning learning to accept that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying food. I like it. I like the things that we associate with it too – being with friends, celebrations, comfort, etc. I just want to continue trying to control my intake because whether we’re talking about Apple products or coffee or most other things that interest me, moderation is the key to living a healthy life.

Sugar seems to be the basis of my food addiction. I’m not a doctor, but I know my body pretty well. I also know that sugar is hidden in a lot of things, and I’m striving to avoid those things. My avoidance comes from a desire to be healthier and fitter than I am now, and right now that seems more important than eating dessert or using pecan creamer in my coffee.

Right now it feels like I’m headed in the right direction, and I find myself thinking about what else I can do to make progress. I like this phase a lot more than the phase that I was in prior to it. I can honestly say that I’m trying, and I hope to see some results that will motivate me to continue down a healthier path to self-control.

Do you have any addictions that may not seem like a big deal? Do you call it something else?