I am a cabbage soup diet survivor.
For seven days I ate nothing but cabbage soup. Yes, you just read that right. It was horrible. Our house smelled of nothing but cabbage soup and its aftermath. This nightmare happened eight years ago, and I still gag when I see or discuss cabbage soup. Some of you are wondering if the cabbage soup diet works. Well, my husband lost 15,234 pounds, and I lost two. So, if you want to be really jealous of your husband, then yes. If you want to be grossed out and disappointed, then also yes.
Food is a struggle for me. I eat to comfort myself. I struggle with the sin of gluttony. Yes, it is a sin listed right there in scripture. Naming it helps me to face it and fight it. I’ve tried the diets almost all of them. I’ll tell you which one works: the one where you eat less and move more. There is no quick fix except the fix that forces you to ask the question “why am I comforting myself with food instead of God”. There are several other sins that I struggle with daily. Yes, I said daily. I relate to Paul so much when he says,
“For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.”
“It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” –Romans 7:17-24, Message
Like Paul, I get so frustrated with myself. Why can’t I just do what is right? Why can’t I stick with what I know is best for me and with what honors God? With my most difficult battles, some days it is just easier to give up on myself. Have you ever felt that way about yourself? You want to do what is right, but you simply can’t stand failing any more. I’ve been there, almost daily.
Some of us struggle with having patience with others, yet we give ourselves break after break. If this is your struggle, then daily remind yourself how patient God has been with you. Honor others with that same grace-gift.
Some of us struggle with being patient with ourselves. We try and we try and it is getting to the point where we are one more failure away from just walking out entirely on ourselves. We berate our reflections. We are guilt ridden when we sit in worship. We fear making friends because we just can’t handle letting anyone else down. So we hide in a self-made box of self-loathing. We are patient and kind with everyone else, but when we think of ourselves, disgust rises in the back of our throats.
Take a breath. Sip your coffee…
1. Friend, I know that logically you must know that God forgives. You’ve heard it from the pulpit. You’ve read it in the scriptures. Write this down:
2. Be patient with yourself. If Paul the apostle, who met a glowing Jesus on the road to Damascus, has this same internal battle, then you are in good company. Be patient with you. You are so loved. You are forgiven. That struggle that you carry, that wears you out every day, may be a story that could help someone else. Name it. Confess it. Move on. Keep trying. I’ll say it again, be patient with yourself. Here’s a little secret, you may never defeat that sin. You may never overcome that temptation, but, here’s the clincher, you don’t have to because the Son of God already has. Read this:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Godʼs grace.” Ephesians 1: 3-7, NIV
In Him, we are redeemed. He knows your every flaw, and yet, He came and wiped them out forever. He knows your struggle. He knows each day can be an all out war. He wants you to keep trying even if you never win the battle. Keep warring with your sin, but know you are loved, dear one.
Be patient with yourself. He is.