The Strength of Self Control

"Just one more handful of chips, then I'll be done." I said to myself after eating almost half the bag of vegetable chips (a whole serving of veggies in every ounce!)

"...annnd just one more." I kept saying as I ate chips while busying myself with roasting trays and marinating chicken for dinner. 

Four servings later, I rolled up the bag and put it away, full of shame and disappointment with myself. But at least I didn't eat the entire bag...

I can easily justify my overeating incident: I need to gain a little weight back from doing the autoimmune Paleo protocol, and I haven't had chips like that in over a month. Plus, I was hungry. But this verse has echoed in my head ever since:

“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs‬ ‭25:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I used to think of self-control as boring and prudish. Now, I’m starting to view it as a strong, smart defense to a well-built life. Being healthy 80% of the time is akin to building a nice house, and binge eating is forgetting to lock the door and letting wild appetites come in and tear down the good work. Self-control is a wise wall that protects the city of my life from danger. What about the holidays? Does that mean I can’t have any pecan pie or peppermint patties? I absolutely believe there is a place for treats in life, as long as they are intentional indulgences (and for me, paleo ;).

Intentional Indulgences

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

The difference between enjoying or destroying a gift from God is having a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. This single-minded attitude is completely sober, aware, and appreciative of the present. It is proactive, not reactive. It's based on first priorities, which are to love God and people. Loving myself and the Lord means being in tune with the body God made me and knowing that if I put something like gluten or peanuts in my mouth, my body will flare up in defense even when I let my own fences down. Loving others means making every effort to join in the meal with them, while gently and humbly declining foods that go against my conscience, and being okay with that.

The holidays are for happiness, and it’s right to enjoy them! ’Tis the season for warm pumpkin spice, cool peppermint, and puffy marshmallows! But if I’m not disciplined, I’ll gobble it all up without a second thought, and then be consumed with guilt. If I’m not sure where I stand, my hesitant heart will keep me from celebrating fully and freely. 

Self control is not deprivation; it’s fortification. It strengthens me to know my identity as a beloved daughter of Christ and say no to what is harmful so I can say yes to what is good. And most of all, it is finding strength in the Spirit, who is strong even when I am weak. So let's bring on that Thanksgiving turkey!

Reflect and Respond

Stand firm on the foundation of Christ, who has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Let Him build up a city of joy within. Keep up the barriers of self-control and be careful to guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).

As for the holiday feasting, let's set a plan to guard your health through the season:

  1. What is the foundation for the house of your body? Read Matthew 7:24-27 . 
  2. What kind of house do you want to build? Take a moment to determine your health priorities and seek a clear vision of your goals. Do you want more energy, less pain? What are a few things you can pre-decide before stepping into this next month?
  3. Do you have fences of security and self control in place? See James 4:7, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Matthew 28:18 for a few ideas.
  4. Self-control is a barrier both against danger that can come in and harm that may come out. Think not only about how you can shield yourself, but about how you can protect others: James 3:10, 13, Epheisans 4:29