I was recently enlightened on the subject (which is what usually leads to a blog) over the weekend. I headed to Delaware to celebrate a dear friend's 40th birthday. I have been friends with her for 23 years, and she has been living in Delaware for about 10 of them. We kept in touch by talking every day and she was in my wedding but we hardly saw each other and she had a whole circle of friends in Delaware that I hadn't met yet. That all changed this weekend.
When I arrived the first order of business was a champagne toast. Pink champagne. I am what you call a "teetotaler" - I don't drink alcohol. At all. My family has a history of alcoholism, and I learned that I simply wasn't made to process alcohol in a healthy way. And my addictive personality wasn't exactly a helping hand. So 9 years ago, after a really bad experience, I promised myself that was it - no more. Never again. And I haven't had a drop since.
Anyway, if you're like me, there's always that awkward little moment when you need to explain that you don't drink - even on your best friend's birthday. I'm not embarrassed by any means, and quickly endeared myself to the gang by declaring myself the Designated Driver.
The night led to a neat little outdoor restaurant - imagine festive atmosphere, tiki torches, live music. One of the girls mentioned that she wanted a menthol cigarette. Badly. She asked if I had one and I told her I hadn't smoked in 7 years. That I quit the day my Dad told us he had esphogeal cancer.
She found her cigarette, and in one of those profound moments that people get when they're tipsy, she turns and says in the most serious of voices, "I really admire you. You have such discipline. I could never have that much self control."
I half turned around to see who she was talking to, but it was me. She went on to say that it was so hard to quit drinking and smoking and that it was incredible that I was "being so strong."
I had never heard of myself referred to like that. Having most recently been called "Coconut Clusters" I was kind of feeling everything but disciplined.
Later that night, I had a little internal chuckle when I realized it was midnight and I was helping 2 of my new friends devour a basket of french fries. How's that for self control? I thought. But I still was thinking about my not-drinking and not-smoking being seen as what made me strong. Because you need food to live, so it's harder to see that as an addiction that needs "help", right? Quitting smoking and drinking can be praised. But you can't quit food, for goodness sake. So instead of quitting I just need to get me some self control.
On my 2-hour ride home, I reflected again on what she said. I thought about how hard it was to quit smoking, but I simply pushed through it because I saw how horribly it affected my Dad's health, and eventually caused his death. I thought about how I was so steadfast in my "never again" to alcohol after a night of overindulgence, and I never looked back. Most recently, I thought of how I gave up Starbucks for Lent. Man, that was hard. But I thought of it as a promise to God to sacrifice something that I loved. And I persevered. I did it. Now, on the 41st day, yes I did have a Starbucks. And I really appreciated it.
Ya know what? I can be strong. I started to think of other times I was strong in my life. Like when I just didn't "get" Trigonometry and had to take a summer class because I failed it, and all of a sudden it "clicked" and I got an "A". Like the time I left an unhealthy relationship while in a foreign country, with nothing but my son and the clothes on our backs and his favorite Teddy bear. I tell that story and people marvel. I forget how strong I can be. Do you?
This scripture was brought to mind:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
I love, love, love that. And it so applies to my struggle with weight loss. If I can be blessed with these "fruits" and apply them to my everyday living, I can learn to be kind to myself again. To forgive myself when I mess up. To practice self control in the area of my life that needs it...just like I did before. I have a track record that proves I can do it. So why is it a problem? I'm still figuring that out. It's gonna "click" soon, I know it will. Seriously, the Bible talks about self control. Hello!
Friends, when you think you can't do it (and there is a special friend I was Facebooking about this tonight) you can. Just remember a victory you achieved and apply that to this too. You lost 70 pounds but gained 10 back? Celebrate the 60 that's gone! Don't focus on the 10! Get back on track because you know that's what makes you feel better! And maybe it's not weight loss. Maybe you're reading this and you need self control in the area of how you talk...or what you buy...or whatever. Just for today, I am feeling strong. I have planned my meals for tomorrow and I will put on my Bodybugg and start over again, because the only other option is staying in this place, the place where I am "Coconut Clusters" and that is not a good place for me to be. I'm not a happy camper in this place.
This is the sign I am printing out and going to look at when I need to make a decision on what I eat:
Good questions to ponder with ANY decision that needs to be made. I want self control, and I am going to surround myself with people who help me call it out, because oh yes it is in me.
I'll let you know how it goes. (-: