I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15
I can’t believe I am heavier than I have ever been before. I start losing weight and then the next thing I know I am gaining again. I know what to do. I have lost weight so many times before. I have all kinds of excellent support and resources along with an abundant network of people who care about me; yet, I continue to comfort myself with food. I am a therapist and help others change; yet, I can’t change myself! Why is it so difficult? Why won’t I change?
Hard and soft addictions multiply in times of fear, stress, and pain. Overeating, restricting food, drinking, drugging, shopping, spending, gaming, television watching, Facebooking, emailing, texting, exercising, worrying, reading, sleeping, and working—the list is limitless. Anything done to excess can enable us to disregard our deeper hungers and deny our pain.
When I am a fugitive on the run from myself, I am suspicious of everything that is good for me. I feel like a wounded animal that is backed into a corner. I fear the truth. I am scared and distrustful of nearly everyone. Curiously, I am very receptive to the counterfeit support that would deaden me to my feelings and dampen me to my pain.
I am quick to forget that my consciousness, my feelings, and my concerned community are my allies even though they may disturb and disrupt my binge. My good friend carved into my heart, “Truth is love.” Listening to the truth and attending to my feelings is the first act of self-love and compassion. This is the first step toward freedom. When we yield to the truth, like the prodigal son, we will return to the genuine light and warmth of love. I often have to remind myself that the God I adore is a God of love. He is not seeking to chastise; instead, he longs to welcome me home without shame or retribution. This is one of our central missions of the Center for Christian Life Enrichment.
How can we wake up and lay aside our bad habits? The question of concern is, “When we are resistant to transformation, what does it take to penetrate our denial and initiate change?” What will awaken my intention and engage my resources in order to bring about needed changes in my life? Alcoholics Anonymous teaches that alcoholics often need to hit bottom before they will get sober. What is our bottom and will we change? Will we look up for help when we are broken and scared?
Transformation is a process of ups and downs. It is cyclical not linear. Overthrowing denial is foundational to transformation. Once the light of truth burns the fog of denial away, the issue is not whether I have a problem, but whether I am willing to do what it takes to overcome it. As we penetrate our denial, we then must confront our rationalizations, excuses and stinking thinking.
My biggest battles are internal. I get hurt and angry and refuse to work through my upset with God and those who I perceive have wronged me. I get scared and instead of reaching out and up for help I isolate and withdraw from those who most can support me. I am learning to overcome shame and resist the temptation to self medicate with soft addictions. I am accepting that I make mistakes and learning how to have compassion for myself.
Personal transformation is a way of living and being. It is focused on investing our lives in the pursuit of fulfilling our life purpose. I believe each of us is a child of God with a responsibility to find our calling and fulfill our mission. It requires courage and the willingness to accept that the good fight is a bout with unlimited rounds. The prize goes to those one who persist, picking themselves up after inevitable setbacks, and rededicating themselves to the lifelong journey of transformation.