Christian Devotion · Uncategorized

The Breakup


I’m ready to break up.  Maybe a trial separation. A divorce might be too final for the relationship we have. After all, we’ve been together for most of my life. One of my best memories of my silent partner is when I went to a restaurant called Farrell’s in the mall.  It was my birthday, and I was probably eight or nine.  My grandfather bought me the biggest jawbreaker I had ever seen.  I nursed the thing multi-colored ball, licking to see what color was next for months, savoring the sugary rock in a Ziploc bag.  Now, it seems pretty gross, but back then, I was in love.

Whether it was gathering up my change in college (when I should’ve been using it for laundry) and using it to buy pink Snowballs or cherry pies or hijacking cookies from the cafeteria, I’ve always been the one to eat dessert first. Life is short, right? To this day, I gravitate to the back of every menu first, at least scanning the desserts before I order my salad.

The thing is though, I’ve now grown tired of the stranger in my bed.  In fact, the stranger goes everywhere I go.  Whether it’s a public place or private sanctuary, the stranger won’t leave me alone.  When I walk, try on a new dress, or laugh, I feel the foreign shake of my new belly jiggle.  I try to suck it in like I always have—only now it rebels. It almost feels like it’s laughing at me for trying to suck it in.  With a belly that refuses to comply, I now have to get to the root of the problem. I must kick out my fake friend sugar even though it has comforted me through so many valleys. Admittedly, the comfort only lasts seconds to minutes, but it has felt good while it lasted.

This morning, I began the breakup (or redefinition of our relationship) by leaving sugar out of my morning coffee.  It’s a tiny step to most, but huge for me. Sure, I’ve done it tons of times before, but like an unhealthy relationship, I’ve always run back with open arms to the wickedly tasty treat hidden in far too many things to admit.  Now, it’s different.  The stranger in my middle is screaming for change.

I searched for scriptures to comfort me.  I can do all things through Christ.  Your body is a temple and not your own.  The race isn’t given to the swift or the strong, but to those who endure to the end. These are just some of the helpful scriptures that help, but one that has always helped me to push through difficulties has been Romans12:2, which says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Before defeating any battle, we have to mentally prepare. One strategy that has been effective for me is to focus on the end goal.  I see myself without the extra weight.  It is possible. I remember seeing my book in print before it even happened. Now, I see books on the shelves, and it keeps me going.  It sounds simple, but it is powerful.  “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

When I have the vision, I acknowledge and accept the difficulties that will come along with setting the goal. I can’t see a life without sugar, but I can see a life without a sugar addiction.  I envision a healthy relationship with food. It will help me to avoid getting taken off track by distractions and temptations. When I do eat sugar, I won’t have a feeling of failure and defeat because I have set a realistic goal and anticipated at least some of the obstacles.

Maybe your thing isn’t a sugar addiction. Maybe it’s more complicated. It might be a chemical dependency, a relationship, or other bad habit. Today is a good day to decide to break up with anything or anyone who is holding you back from being the best you that you can be.  As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true.  There is only one you.  You are special.  We can’t give our best when we are in bondage of any kind.  Christ gives us freedom, and addiction of any kind is bondage.  I might feel free the moment the sugar touches my tongue, but the effects are damaging to my mind, body and soul.  It’s this way with most of the things that can cause us to be in bondage. I dare you to test yourself. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses for your behavior.  (For example, my excuses have been things like, I’m getting older, and my metabolism has slowed down. I’ve had three kids. I’m under stress. I’m big boned. Etc., etc.)  Think past the moment and focus of the enduring effects of your decisions.  You just might just decide, like me, that it’s time for a break up.



Who’s Listening?


I’m convinced that some of the most unpleasant people to be around are those who don’t listen.  Interestingly enough, those who don’t listen are mostly oblivious to the fact that the listeners may be doing a silent scream of agony. After all, it’s no fun hearing the same viewpoints and repeated stories over and over again.  People who truly listen are a rare breed.  In fact, I’ll bet that you can name the people on one hand who really listen to you.  I’m not just referring to the person who’s silent when you’re speaking to him or her. We all know that just because a person is silent and allowing you to speak doesn’t mean that they’re listening. Being a good listener requires practice, discipline, strength, sacrifice and a loving heart, but so much is gained through listening.  A good listener gains insight, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Admittedly, I am not a great listener, but I’d like to think that I’m a good one.  On my journey to become a better listener, I’ve paid close attention to some of the things that people do who are great listeners because they tend to have very similar characteristics.

First, they are fully engaged, and their body language often says so.  They aren’t texting or scrolling through their phones while another person is speaking to them.  They give good eye contact and nod, smile, or give a look of concern at appropriate times.  They are in the moment.  Good listeners often say things like, “I understand,” or “Really?” or some other verbal response to let the person know that they are listening.  People who are good listeners have an uncanny ability to block out annoying little distractions and focus on the conversation.

Good listeners also genuinely care.  They aren’t self-absorbed and don’t feel the need to compete for air time.  Conversations don’t need to be centered around them.  They listen to get information and to let the person know that they care about the issue.  Good listeners are empathetic and compassionate people.  They often have the ability to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

Good, godly listeners don’t listen to respond.  They listen prayerfully, knowing that they aren’t necessarily listening to provide a solution if there is a problem.  Once they get an understanding, they prayerfully consider what their conversation moving forward should be.  They don’t tend to give knee-jerk responses.

Good listeners often ask questions to get a full understanding.  They’re not quick to respond until they get the full picture.  In fact, one of the great listeners that I have in my life has helped me so many times by just asking me questions.  When I answer her questions, I find that I get clarity or a better understanding how I need to proceed.

As believers, we really don’t have a shortage of people who get the mic. In other words, everyone has something important to say.  My question is, Who is listening?

Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.  James 1:19a