A couple of weeks ago I posted that I had had a breakthrough. Oh how I wish the joy and fullness of those peak faith experiences could last on and on! But eventually, the euphoria fades and real life settles back in.
In the aftermath of all such transformations, there comes a point where things may begin to slide back to the way they were. In spite of our best intentions, years of habit are sometimes hard to break. It seems almost inevitable that some old behaviors would at least try to creep back in.
And creep they have tried. TV watching, overeating, and generally just zoning out have all been temptations, urges over the past few weeks. I can’t say I’ve been perfect in maintaining the changes that I asked for and God so graciously granted to me. The clutter is creeping back into my living room again and needs to be purged again. After weeks of eating less sweets and more healthy foods, a bake sale and multiple items baked at home conspired to take me back to the land of double desserts and tummyaches.
Some progress has been kept, however. There are rarely more than a handful of dishes in the sink before the dishwasher is emptied and reloaded. TV watching by all members of the family has dropped by more than half and stayed there, except for one very stressful day (where my husband sought refuge in the TV and I fled from it). Like I told him, there will be days like that. I’m sure it won’t be the last time we think we just can’t take any more real life and need to retreat to something that feels safe and undemanding.
Sometimes I just feel like I want something, and before I know it I’m turning to food or TV or something else when it’s really a spiritual emptiness that I’m feeling. That’s the real change, learning to get what I need from the invisible God who loves me, who has proven that He really is enough even when it doesn’t seem possible for that to be true. I have experienced that it is true, and I want to act based on that experience rather than based on an old, bad habit.
It seems like my whole life consists of turning away and turning back. Getting very close to God and then moving away again. Bridging the gap and then putting some distance between us. The key to it all seems to be finding a way to just stop when the world starts pressing in. I’m pretty sure that’s why God created the Sabbath, but it’s pretty difficult in this life to just stop for a whole day.
I realized that periodic mini-fasts seem to help get me re-focused on letting God fill me rather than food or anything else. I now control my food intake (with God’s help) rather than allowing it to control me. I realized that part of the reason for my breakthrough was that I basically did stop everything on that day. Stopping that way seems to hit a mental reset button and get me to remember why I wanted to change in the first place. Rest is essential, and resting in Him is the only thing that really gives me peace.
I’m very aware that routines and rituals can take a freeing experience and turn it into a prison of our own making, so I’m carefully considering how to implement the practices that will keep me close to God. I pray that you will do the same. Feel free to post your ideas in the comments.