Balance. Moderation. If you have ever tried to be healthier or lose weight, you know these words. These words refer to concepts that are difficult- sometimes seemingly impossible to achieve. Well, I am a firm believer in moderation. Although I am a die-hard conservative, I understand the need for more liberal thinking in certain areas. For example, if everyone was conservative... we would eventually all die because there would be no more forests, trees, plants, etc. to keep oxygen flowing... imminent suffocation would occur. However, if everyone was liberal... we would eventually all die because everyone would be expecting everyone else to make food, build homes, and essentially take care of everyone else. Sure, the foliage would be fantastic, but everyone would be expecting everyone else to plow the crops, grind the wheat, etc., to turn that foliage into food. Thus, no one working=starvation. Starvation or suffocation? Take your pick... either will kill ya.
Well, recently I have (by the grace of the Lord) begun eating healthier. I have tried to stay away from preservatives, pointless calories, and gluttony. The Bible says to do all things unto the glory of God, thus, I have tried to change my eating habits to obey this command (After all, is not eating part of "all things"?). Well, with eating healthier comes that unreachable goal of keeping balance and moderation with what I consume. It is quite simple really. Food has categories:
These are foods that you could live your entire life without. You could be 100% healthy never touching any of these foods. Potato chips, Cheez-Its, crackers, candy, chocolate, etc. all fall into this category. Now you are probably thinking, "Chocolate is good for you!!!" No. Cacao is good for you... chocolate has refined sugars in it. Plus, most likely you can get most of the "health benefits" of chocolate from other places. Either way, let's just avoid the argument by saying, the avoidable chocolate is milk chocolate and white chocolate- chocolate with a low percentage of cacao and a high percentage of milk and sugar. Either way, you know what is in this category... the junk. The stuff where if you look on the back of the package, not only can you not discern what half of the ingredients are, but you also cannot understand why all the chemicals and garbage thrown together taste so good! These foods make you addicted easily. The more you eat these, the more you want them. The good news is that the longer you go without eating these foods, the less you want them.
Ahh, fruit. Such an important part of one's diet, so healthy! Fruit is healthy; however, beware of it becoming an "alternate addiction". You see, once you take the really, really bad stuff out of your diet, you may switch from eating candy to eating fruit... wonderful! However, remember that fruit can be very high in calories and sugar. Now, it does not contain the horrible refined sugars, but it still has sugar nevertheless. This is not as easy to become addicted to as junk food, but it can become addicting, especially if it replaces your addiction to junk food. The problem with fruit is that it becomes a comfortable addiction. You always hear that fruit is good for you, so you figure that eating tons of fruit isn't bad. Your addiction is healthy. The more you eat of fruit, the more you want it. The less you eat fruit, the less you want it.
Vegetables and Protein
Have you ever just said to yourself, "Man, I could reallllyyy use some spinach right now!" or "A Brussels sprout would just HIT the spot!" Try getting addicted to vegetables... good luck. Try getting addiction to chicken, fish, or steak. Noooo, not Mickey D's fried, breaded chicken-head concoctions... just a plain, baked or grilled chicken breast. What about veggies with no dressing? Nothing to make them seem tastier to us? What about chicken and steak with no sauce... no spices? Would you really, truly want veggies or protein more than fruit or junk food then? I like to think of these foods as the ones that you have to choose to eat because you know that they are good for you. Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying that your body doesn't know what is good for it. Your body could be craving chicken and broccoli, but with what do you decide to fill it? Same thing applies: the more you eat these, the more you want them. The less you eat these, the less you want them.
Many times, our body needs something that is in a certain food, but instead of giving it the food it knows it needs, we give it the junk or the junk's replacing, better-looking, yet still addicting food- such as fruit. It isn't that our body is never telling us to eat good stuff, it is just that many times we say, "Yeah, yeah, eat these chips! That will make you happy!" And indeed, that junk food will make your taste-buds soar for about... eh... 5 minutes at most. However, once full of the junk, there is no longer room for a good meal, so we skip it. Surprisingly, though, even though we "don't have room" for a decent meal, we can always eat a few more chips. Why? Because they hold us under their addiction at that point- they are very hard to resist. So after filling up on garbage, we end up with... well... a tummy-ache. Even if we eat too much fruit, the acid gets to us. The sugar may make us even crash land and feel horrible by the end of the day. You see... there is a difference between what your body needs and yearns for and with what you decide to fill it.
This is the way I look at being a follower of the Lord. Now, hold up! I am not crazy! ...Okay, who am I trying to fool? If you have read any of my other posts, you already know I am 100% out of my mind. So I may be crazy, but still, hear me out. Nutritionally balanced discipleship:
Simply put- sin. You could have a wonderful, full life never, ever needing to sin. The truth is, we want to sin. Sin is an addiction. Whether your sin is cursing, drunkenness, lust, wrath, gluttony, etc., etc.... it addicts you. When we look at the actual ingredients, however, we see the garbage:
Cursing: Letting fowl language that makes you look tacky and cheap flow from your lips just to hurt someone or express pain. Trying to seek shallow approval from others (individuals who are probably not worth being friends with anyway) by using swear words in everyday language and jokes because "This joke just requires it."
Drunkenness: The horrible effects drunkenness has on your body and mind. The fact that you lose complete control and can end up sleeping in your own vomit at the end of the night.
Lust: The disgustingly pathetic people involved in the pornography industry. The ragged girls and men that have torn hearts and lives trying to fulfill their deep desire to feel desired by wasting their bodies on other people who feel the same way but are too hurt to ever commit.
Wrath: Allowing yourself to completely lose your mind in order to fulfill your lust for vengeance. Making yourself seem like a hateful person who allows others to control him or her through "getting at him or her" to the point where you explode, losing any witness you once had.
Gluttony: trying to fill your emptiness with food to the point where you feel sick and look fat. Once self-esteem plummets, you eat more, trying to feel better with empty calories.
If we look at the packaging of sin... it... is actually really gross. It contains trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated oil! It is nasty and useless! How could we want it? How could it taste so good? Well, we have a sin nature for one. I mean, it is hard to explain but... we naturally desire the bad. After all, think of the food we like to snack on!!! However, think of the other thing I said... the more we have, the more we want... the longer we go without, the less we want. The same thing applies here. If you are struggling with a sin that has you in addictive bondage, the only way to get free is to let God free you and help you hold off from the "junk food". It will be excruciating at first, but eventually, as you starve yourself of that sin with the Lord's guidance, you will be set free! Does that mean you will NEVER sin again?! Ha! I wish! Because you change to eating healthy does not mean you will never see another slice of pie... in fact, the next addiction could be chips instead of pie! It simply means that once you begin eating the healthier things and your addiction is far away, it will be easier to hang on to your Heavenly Father's hand and say, "No!" The longer without, the less you want it.
This is going to church, worshiping to music, and having fellowship with other believers. These are all good things... in moderation. The problem is, we begin to fill up on these things without really much substance. These are good for you, yes, but you cannot live on fruit. The real problem with these things is the same as the problem with fruit. They are a "healthy addiction" because technically, they are good for you. In fact, the interesting thing about fruit is that you can be openly addicted to it! As a Christian, you would not be openly addicted to pornography and be okay with it. That is like me shoveling down two bags of potato chips in front of perfectly skinny and fit women! Please! I would be wayyyyy too embarrassed to show my addiction to them! Well, if I was around a bunch of obese, large women... BRING ON THE CHIPS!!!! In today's culture, many non-Christian men are open with their desire for pornography with their non-Christian friends. Once they become Christians, though... their brothers and sisters in Christ are the "perfectly skinny and fit women" (All the men are thinking, "Wait a second! I have NEVER been a woman!!!" Bah! You know what I mean!)... now those Christian men who are struggling with porn hide that addiction. However, Christian men may spend copious amounts of time fellowshiping and going to church- perhaps even volunteering! This would be like me being in a room with those skinny women, and eating lots of fruit... it is no longer embarrassing! They are eating fruit too, and, well, it is good for us! This is the scary illusion of church, fellowship, worship, etc.... they are good, but not completely filling. However, we replace our sins with spending time with other Christians and think that our walks are perfect. In the end, we could just crash from the sugar high and acidity of the fruit. The more you eat, the more you want to eat. This is good, in moderation. For example, as long as I am not filling up every waking hour with church activities to the point where I cannot have some veggies and protein, then I am good! The less you eat, the less you want to eat. This is good, in moderation. For example, if you need to free up some space for veggies and protein, this can be good to eat less of the fruit. However, beware that you don't cut it out so much that you no longer desire to go to church or spend time with your brothers and sisters in Christ. That is dangerous as well... you need those antioxidants and Vitamin C!
Veggies and Protein
This is where we get really healthy in our walk. However, it has to be a choice. I am not addicted to hours on my knees in prayer with my Heavenly Father... I am not addicted to hours of studying His Word to know Him. In fact, in order to get myself to want to spend time with him, I usually have to put some sauce or dressing on my "good food" so that it tastes better to me. The sauce I use to get into the Word is Bible studies and books about the Bible. Why is it that I cannot just have a taste for plain spinach without ranch dressing? Why can I not eat a piece of plain chicken without salt, spices, or BBQ sauce? Do I actually have to use a Bible study and/or books involving the Bible in order to delve into the juicy, healthy Word of God? Sadly, yes. All I can say about sauces and dressings is... it is better than nothing. Sure, the healthiest food would be buck-naked veggies and proteins; however, it is better to have some sauce on veggies or protein than no veggies or protein at all. Plus, think of it this way, the more you eat of those things, the more you will want them... perhaps after doing a few Bible studies, you can begin to delve into the Word of God on your own without any other voice interjecting into the study. Please, please, PLEASE don't misunderstand! Bible studies are great! And for people who are just beginning to eat healthily, they are wonderful helps! They encourage you to want more personal time with Jesus. All I am saying is that, make sure you are addicted to Jesus, not the sauce. When that Bible study ends: when you run out of ranch, are you still going to delve into His Word each day: still going to eat those carrots?
It is a choice. Period. You may not feel like you will ever be addicted... but you will. Someday all followers of Christ will be eternally addicted to plain, un-sauced, un-dressingified JESUS CHRIST!!!! What's best is that He will be the most desired... no junk will even be available. We will fellowship (eat fruit) in moderation by Worshiping Jesus forever, together in one family. A healthy, forever fulfilling meal. The point is, eating proteins and veggies is a choice. You must choose daily to die to yourself and learn more about Jesus. Choose to know Him. Choose.
Does this mean that you will have to wait to get to Heaven before becoming addicted to the Lord? NO! The wonderful thing is that, as with eating better, once you have been eating well for awhile, choosing day-by-day to make healthy choices, eventually it will become routine for you to reach for a carrot instead of a candy bar. Not only that, but you will know how to satisfy your body so that when it tells you what it needs (A.K.A. when your spirit tells you what it needs), you will desire to fulfill it properly! Mmmm! And boy will it taste good! Add some church, some fellowship, some Vitamin C, and you got yourself a balanced relationship with the Savior! Isn't it interesting that Vitamin C keeps us from getting diseases and sicknesses, and fellowship keeps us accountable to stay away from spiritual disease?
Three more things:
It is easier to fall back into addiction toward junk food than it is to keep addicted to good food. I will use myself as an example. When I went to my parents' place in Tennessee this Christmas, I still ate pretty healthily, trying to avoid gorging myself with fattening treats. However, they were in the house, they were available. Therefore, I did eat some. By the time I returned to New York, I was craving things that I hadn't craved for awhile. I was falling into over-eating sweets and letting cravings conquer will-power. However, when I was in Tennessee, I wasn't craving veggies and fruits and protein each day! I wasn't begging for broccoli! But suddenly, back home, I was dying for dessert! My point is, if you let a little sin back into your life ("Just this one curse word..." "Just this one porn video...") it will grab you around the neck and refuse to let go. If I would have not eaten any junk while in TN, I would have come home and been fine. However, I let a little junk in, and it wanted to keep me under its addiction. The same thing applies to sin. Disciple of Christ, do not let even a little sin in... it will surely cause you more pain and stress than just bee-lining it away from the dessert table the moment you notice it across the room.
If you surround yourself with fat people, you will stay comfortably in your junk food addiction without worrying. Surround yourself with thin people. If you surround yourself with "thin and fit" Christians, you will surely be influenced to keep away from the french fries and eat something healthier to ensure that you lose some weight yourself and to ensure that you will not be rightly rebuked for your addiction to sin.
Surround yourself with good food. If you keep junk food in the house, you will privately consume it. If you struggle with pornography, get yourself an accountability partner and a block on your computer. If you struggle with anger, stay away from people who you know will provoke you; get an accountability partner. If it is impossible to stay completely away from them (A.K.A. family members, people at work, etc.), try to spend less time with them and pray the Lord will help you; get an accountability partner. If you struggle with drunkenness, stay away from the wine menu and stay away from nightclubs and bars. Go elsewhere to have fun; get an accountability partner. You get the gist. If you can't stay away from the potato chips, get them out of your house! Throw them out, right then and there! Starving people who have no other food to eat would kill to have what we would consider bland veggies and chicken. Take out the junk; starve yourself of sin, so that you will only want to consume Christ- all that He is, all that He was, and all that He will be. Change your body... change your life.