“I will never be perfect but it takes courage to keep walking.” Cheri Swalwell
We finished a series at our church in February and one week the pastor talked about laying down your dreams, laying down an addiction, laying down something that is standing between you and God’s best for your life. When you choose to do that, there will be a freedom that comes with that choice…but also there will be trials. Satan doesn’t want us to lay down anything that will draw us closer to God…he wants us to keep those things held tightly in our fists in order to prevent God from helping us reach our destiny.
I’d been telling God since January that I only wanted His will for my life so I thought I’d laid down all I needed to. Then I listened to the followup sermon the following Sunday and was reminded that not only is laying down “that” thing going to be hard, but tomorrow, next week, next month God will probably ask me to lay down something else. My first thought: Great! (not). I was tired. It was hard enough laying down the first thing that was hard for me and I knew it would take a lot of courage to follow through and lay it down with all I had instead of saying those words and then failing within the hour. And the second thought I had was this: I know one thing God was asking me to lay down…but what about my dream, the job that I felt God had been preparing me for since January 2014? Was He asking me to lay that down too?
God still wasn’t speaking that often to me and I figured I could interpret that silence two ways: He wanted me to continue walking in faith, trusting that what He told me the first time was what He wanted me to keep doing….or I needed to lay it down and see if He would give it back.
Now, the first area where He was asking me to lay it down I knew I heard Him correctly. It revolved around eating. I’ve shared many times, probably too many, that I have a love-hate relationship with food. And when I’m stressed, I reach for food. This exciting adventure has been quite stressful and so…I’ve reached for food more than I should. And unfortunately, a person’s body is a billboard when they reach for more food than they expend in energy. So, I promised God that I would lay down my emotional eating, knowing that it would be difficult but stepping out with courage, asking Him for the strength. And I failed…miserably. So I tried again the next day…and failed, miserably. And I thought I wasn’t loud enough asking for His strength, so I asked louder…and failed again. Obviously something wasn’t working. And the feelings of failure and worthlessness that I shared last time got stronger and I thought, “I can’t even lay down my food the right way. What am I doing wrong? I’m weak, I’m…”
And God spoke love to me. He knows I’m stressed out. He wants to take that from me. He knows this is hard. He wants to reach down and help. He knows I can’t do it on my own – and He doesn’t want me to try. He doesn’t want to punish me. He wants the best for me. He wants me to use common sense. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing – laying down my emotional eating means turning to Him instead of food when I need to be filled…it means turning to Him instead of trying to get my self worth from others…it means turning to Him to meet my needs, to share my feelings and to give Him my worries because He can handle them much better than I can. They aren’t burdens to Him – they are offerings of trust.
Then I realized that healthy eating doesn’t have to be all or nothing, do or die. During this stressful time in our lives, exciting adventure or not, God isn’t a drill sergeant. He isn’t asking me to go hard core. He is asking me to make good choices and lay down the emotional eating –the unhealthy pattern of turning to food for comfort, drinking a whole pot of coffee and reaching for processed food or chocolate chip cookies instead of food that will give me energy and fuel.
So, I made the choice toward the end of the week that if God loves me enough to be gentle with me, then I’m going to take His example and be gentle with myself. I’m going to start viewing myself as a “healthy eater” and choose to honor my Father by taking care of what He has given me – a body that works and moves and needs to be used for Him to the best of my ability.
Am I perfect? Nope. I’m still failing but I’m not beating myself up. I am choosing to talk to Him instead of immediately turning to food. I chose to boil eggs and make egg salad for myself instead of dipping into the chocolate chip cookies in the freezer. I chose to shop the perimeter of the grocery store yesterday and am actually looking forward to salad this coming up week. I have water with apples and cinnamon (yes, it actually tastes as good as it sounds) in the fridge which I have had already and will enjoy again after my one cup of coffee.
I didn’t become an emotional eater at birth. It occurred over time. While the choice I made to lay it down happened during a conversation between my Father and myself, the habits that are ingrained in me will take some time to undo. And I think it honors God when I pick myself back up after failing and ask for His strength again and again instead of just giving up because it’s hard. I knew it would be hard – which is why I resisted for so long. I’ve been a Christ follower long enough to know that living the life He wants me to have isn’t always easy, but it is freeing and it is definitely worth it. So I will keep striving to become the person He created me to be. I will never be perfect but it takes courage to keep walking.
Come back next time and I will share what I discovered about the path God has me on…is it time to lay down my passion for the career or is it time to dig in and trust harder?
© Cheri Swalwell 2015