Dig Deep – Sunday Psalms

Grow – dig your roots down into the rich wonderful dirt of the Word.

Feel every inch of your soul reaching further into its depth.

Plant yourself so that your being will absorb every soul nourishing word of wisdom from your Creator.

Then grow – spread your branches wide and welcome everyone into your life-giving embrace.

Make fruit from the love filling your roots and feed the hungry, shelter the weak, clothe the poor.

Plant yourself in the world around you and stand firm as a maker of peace and love –

A reflection of your Maker.

Stupid Human Tricks

You are probably far more sane than I.  I have so many quirks as to be considered certifiable rather than merely lovably quirky – just ask my husband.  I have a perfectionist streak that’s at least a mile wide, and it tends to exhibit itself in slightly O.C.D. behaviors.  While some behaviors tend to have roots in childhood trauma – like my fear of an unorganized Tupperware cabinet causing further head injury – I have a few unexplainable, borderline psychotic habits.  I take great care to load my grocery cart in such a manner that you can’t help but unload it so that all my groceries are grouped together, thus making it virtually impossible to bag it out of order.  Yes, there is a correct order to bagging groceries: like things go together, cold things go together, eggs and bread never go with canned goods…  I could go on for a while.  I pretend that the logical reason for this is that I usually have to unload the groceries at home by myself, so it’s important to be able to prioritize what goes in first, especially since I have to climb a flight of stairs for every load.

The reality is I have no idea why I’m so obnoxious about my groceries.  I don’t even let the baggers help me to my car; I like to put the bags in a particular order, and I like to do it myself.  Perhaps I like the sense of control.  I really have no idea, and I’m okay with never plumbing the depths of that particular psychosis.  Not too long ago I was purchasing a large amount of toothpaste and toothbrushes to complete some shoeboxes a friend let us help put together for Operation Christmas Child.  I had other grocery items as well, so I had taken great care to load my buggy perfectly.  Even if a bagger helped me unload it, there was no way to mess it up.  I thought.

One of my favorite baggers came over to help, and he began pulling things out willy-nilly.  Toothpaste commingled with soup cans and cleaning supplies and produce.  I was losing my mind.  Not only had my items been hopelessly mixed, but my large volume of toothpaste was attracting a crowd.  My cashier, the bagger and at least two other store employees were helping to load the items into my re-usable bags, each one remarking on the astounding amount of toothpaste I was purchasing.  I glanced over to watch the bagging process, vaguely hoping that the girls would sort it as they bagged, and noted that the bagging was happening in an even more haphazard manner than the buggy unloading.

And then I realized that I was being utterly ridiculous.  Sure, the mixed up grocery bags would take me more time to sort at home, but I was wasting an opportunity to explain WHY I was buying all that toothpaste.  I laughed off my frustration and explained what Operation Christmas Child does and that the toothpaste they were helping me with was going to a child in another country along with information about Jesus and ways to learn more about being a Christian.  As it happens, all of the people helping me claimed to attend churches that were also participating, but what if I had missed a chance to share my faith with someone who needed hope, only because I was cranky about my grocery compulsion?  How many times do we all get wrapped up in details that really won’t matter past the next hour or day and miss the opportunities we have to share our lives with others?  Did it REALLY matter that I spent an extra fifteen minutes re-sorting my toiletry items?  Not if meant that I was rude to someone else or otherwise returned frustration for well-meaning help.

Maybe one day I’ll throw caution to the wind and not care if my produce gets bagged with canned goods and dog food.  Or maybe I’ll just have to keep reminding myself that it’s more important to inhabit each moment and reflect God’s love to others in every circumstance.

How Dieting Became Spiritual Awakening

“The nature of sin is not immorality and wrongdoing, but the nature of self-realization which leads us to say, ‘I am my own god.’ This nature may exhibit itself in proper morality or in improper immorality, but it always has a common basis— my claim to my right to myself. When our Lord faced either people with all the forces of evil in them, or people who were clean-living, moral, and upright, He paid no attention to the moral degradation of one, nor any attention to the moral attainment of the other. He looked at something we do not see, namely, the nature of man (see John 2:25).”  from the October 5th reading in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

I started an official diet last week (www.body4believer.com if you’re interested).  It’s fairly strict on what and when to eat, which is exactly the type of diet I usually avoid.  However, it is very simple to follow, and it’s very simple in its classification of how well you stick to the plan: you are either hot or cold.  There can be no middle ground, no mostly following it with a few changes, no close enough for horseshoes or hand grenades.  You either do it or you don’t.  So far, I have lost almost five pounds, which is more than I lost in two months of dieting my way.

My weight loss efforts always fail because I cheat.  I let myself off the hook if it’s a bad day: “I feel really stressed right now, so it’s okay to have an extra cookie (or five).”  I get busy and don’t make time for exercise.  I am an emotional eater, so I justify my bad eating by telling myself it’s just for this one day – just this time.  I realized last week that my body completely represents my spiritual condition.

I let myself cheat all the time.  I tell myself that acting in anger is justified in the situation.  I rationalize thoughts that I know are totally unacceptable to God because I cling to the right to own myself.  I have often put up walls with God.  I struggle with being a woman and being a Southern Baptist Christian because of the very literal interpretation of what women should be and do in the church.  This, however, is a rather theoretical argument for me, as I have never been prevented from serving in any church I’ve attended.  I use this as leverage to hold on to my identity as a woman in the church.  I want to hold on to my right to my own identity, when in reality, I have no right but to follow God if I profess to know him.  Here’s where the last week of dieting comes in.

When I have been tempted to eat chocolate cake or barbecue or cheat in any way, I’m finding that my reason for denying myself is the realization that I have no right to cheat.  I skipped the hard work for years, so now I have a lot more work to do.  There are no shortcuts.  To borrow from our pastor, I can’t pray my way out of something I behaved myself into.  I can no longer hold onto my right to eat chocolate cake because I will have to earn that freedom after I do the work to get back into shape (preferably, one that’s not round).  I am starting to see blind spots that I developed in my faith where I skipped the hard work, and I realize that Oswald is right again: proclaiming my right to myself is my sin.  My claim to myself leads to over-indulgence and obesity, physically and spiritually.  Denying my right to myself is hard work, but necessary if I want the freedom to be what God created me to be.