Chapter 6 is mindblowing.
The title is Growing Closer to God and for me, it sums up the “why.” Of course there is the “getting healthy and losing weight” reason, but I’ve done all that before and found myself right back in the puddles of guilt and shame for having eaten excessively and not worked out.
Those feelings of guilt and shame are not from God. He doesn’t ever heap those on His children. (Need proof? Romans 5:5 says that “…hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…”) Guilt and shame do not draw us TO God. They push us farther away from Him. Usually, when we experience those two emotions we want to run and hide from Him. I always ask myself or my kids who benefits from those emotions… God, family, friends, or our enemy. The only possible answer here is the enemy… the one who has a vested interest in keeping us in puddles of guilt and shame so we won’t run to the One who can erase those feelings, tell us who we really are, and help us live full and abundant lives (John 10:10). Lysa shared that denying ourselves things that are permissible but not necessarily beneficial for the sole purpose of growing closer to God is a way to get closer to God. She reminds us that in Luke 9:23 we’re told that anyone who wants to follow God must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Him.
In our warped human (maybe it’s American) minds we think that any form of denying ourselves is wrong. We don’t deny ourselves t.v. time. We don’t deny ourselves internet time. We don’t deny ourselves the new clothes we want but can’t afford. We don’t deny ourselves the newer/nicer/cooler car even though it’ll take us 60 months to pay off and cost us 50% more that way. We don’t deny ourselves the mortgage that will strap our income to the point of being unable to pay other bills because, for goodness sake, we want that house. We don’t deny ourselves foods. Why show restraint?!? We’ve been fed the lie that if we want something we are entitled to it. Some of us have bought into that lie to the detriment of our finances, our families, and our health.
Who benefits from our believing that lie? God, family, friends, or our enemy? If we are willing to believe that we are entitled to anything our little hearts want then we’ll do whatever it takes to get it. When those things hurt our relationships with God, family, or friends, or damage our health, we then feel guilt and shame, because we incurred those hurts. It’s our fault. And when we feel guilt and shame, we hide from God… and we don’t live abundant lives.
SO…. what do we do about this? Is there a way to avoid this vicious cycle?
I believe so… If we live with the goal of growing closer to God, we will want to do what He knows is best for our daily lives rather than what our “wants” tell us is best. (Think: yellow house with white shutters.) In doing that we will deny ourselves things that are permissible but not beneficial. We will have to say no to ourselves when we want something we know He hasn’t placed before us as His best. And we’ll have to do that daily. But the rewards? Peace.
Peace is the opposite of guilt and shame. When I am at peace I can accept that I will fail at times. Example: I had two pieces of buttered bread yesterday… I had one too many, knowing I was supposed to only have one. I knew as I was eating the first that it should be my only. (I was eating it as I was preparing the garlic toast for dinner.) When we actually sat down to dinner, I had another. I knew at the time I was eating something that was permissible but not beneficial. I regret eating the second piece but I do not feel guilt or shame. I am at peace because
I’ve learned I’m learning to dismiss guilt and shame as having come from the enemy as a means to keep me from God and the peace that He has for me.
I am going to be more intentional today as I go about my day, remembering that I caved to a craving yesterday, and avoid doing so again.
I can’t help but share what Lysa wrote in this paragraph:
It really is about learning to tell myself no and learning to make wiser choices daily. And somehow becoming a woman of self-discipline honors God and helps me live the Godly characteristic of self-control…. In the end, pursuing self-control does help my heart feel closer to Jesus and more pure to receive what He wants for me each day … instead of clogged with guilty feelings for my poor choices.
It comes down to this: Do I want to live my life in puddles of guilt and shame or in peace? No question. If denying myself some things that are not beneficial to me anyway will lead to a life of peace, I will chose that!
(I only covered about the first few pages in Chapter 6!)