A Month of Challenges

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Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

The news this week has been heavy on me and Josh’s hearts. Things like monthly challenges seem trivial and unimportant when you consider the hurt and brokenness going on in the world.

However, sometimes brokenness and discipline can go hand in hand. Like fasting, sometimes giving up something can help us focus on what’s truly important.

Between the news and the daily struggles of life, I’ve felt a pretty significant amount of stress this week.

When I get stressed, my tempter flares.

When I get stressed, I turn to things like comfort food and alcohol to take the edge off.

I don’t want to rely on these things to deal with my emotions.

If I truly believe Jesus is all I need, why am I turning to these things rather than running to him first?

So this month I’ve chosen a few things to give up:

  • Eating for comfort rather than nutrition
  • Drinking for comfort
  • Facebook

I’ve already explained the eating and drinking part of the challenge. Facebook was a last-minute addition to the list, and the reason has more to do with avoiding stress in the first place. Limiting social media right now will allow me to be more present with those around me and have real conversations. It will allow me to mourn and really process the deaths that took place around the nation this week, without getting overly distracted by the politics and the commentary. (My blog is set to automatically post to Facebook this month, but I won’t be checking it. Please comment on the blog itself if you’d like a response.) 

It’s already been challenging.

It’s already been refreshing.

I’ve already wanted to quit several times.

But the challenge has been doing it’s job. I’ve noticed I’m more vulnerable when my defense mechanisms are down. I feel like I’m slowly starting to regain control over things that had been controlling me.

This has been my manta:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so that you can stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.

Hebrews 4:13

We all have different struggles and temptations, but the second verse is pretty clear – temptation isn’t sin. We needn’t focus on it and feel guilty. Rather, we keep pressing on and God will help us in our weaknesses. 

I know when I first gave up sugar I went through a little bit of withdrawal. There were cravings and it seemed really hard. But something happened after the first two weeks of resisting sugar.

The cravings went away.

 

I think the same is true of other things as well. There is a point at which we’re tested and want to give up, but if we stick it out past the initial “detox” the temptation will die.

I’m not there yet, but I’ve started the process.

How do you respond to stress? Eating? Drinking? Journaling? Prayer? Working out? Making music? Creating art? How can we change our coping strategies to be constructive and nourishing rather than self-destructive? 

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