You remember in the cartoons there used to be a person who was having a hard time making a decision, perhaps feeling tempted by something and on one shoulder there was an angel and on the other a devil? They were trying to influence the character in the direction that was preferred (the good or the dark side). Inevitably whichever side won would smile and beam and the other would “poof away” into a cloud and disappear.
I have found myself in many situations where I feel as if I have two messengers trying to help me navigate a situation or circumstance. Quite often this can be food related. The voices that I hear are trying to sway me, pull me in their direction and influence me to make a decision for their camp. It probably seems silly to some that there would be an internal dialogue over a second helping of something or whether or not to try something on the buffet, or to even have a piece of wedding cake at a celebration you might be attending. Yet, for those who struggle with a food addiction that struggles is all too real. It’s also not something that goes away overnight. I count it a blessing that most decisions I make now in terms of food choices are made confidently and comfortably, but there are still times when I hear things that aren’t being said. Voices fill my head with sounds that would strive to defeat me. I must deafen them with the truth. This takes form in both mental and often audible declarations such as: “I can say no to that food.”, “I don’t have to eat anymore. I’m not hungry.”, “Yes I DO have time for a run or a workout.”, “No I’m not going to get fat again.”, “Eat slowly.”, “Drink a glass of water instead.”, and “It’s fuel NOT a reward.”
Oh the voices…they are there. Sometimes they take form in an audible voice such as a friend or family member inviting me to a place to eat or suggesting something that I know I just can’t do/have at this time. Sometimes the voices come in the form of a picture, advertisement or a commercial featuring something amazingly yummy, sweet and tempting. Sometimes I have planned ahead and so I know that when the voices come I can answer them appropriately. Other times I’m caught off guard and I listen to the wrong voice. The best times though are when I’ve planned ahead, prepared by saving calories/nutrition points and done extra workouts and so I don’t even have to listen to those nagging voices. I know that I can make a choice that I normally wouldn’t make on a daily basis, but it will be acceptable. I had such a time on Friday night, on a date with Nathan when I could share a piece of Key Lime pie with him and not feel badly. I could eat a piece of bread with dinner and know the world wasn’t coming to an end. It felt great and it absolutely did not sabotage me for the next day or the weekend. The only voices I heard that night were the ones saying “Why don’t you date this man more often?”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not crazy. There aren’t audible voices that tempt me, but I hope you understand that seriously there is a war that wages within me. It’s not just about food. I admit that I hear things that aren’t being said in terms of emotional, spiritual and mental hurts, habits and hang-ups I have. When someone offends me there are the voices….”How dare that person treat you that way. You don’t deserve that. You shouldn’t forgive them. Hold onto that grudge.” When I’m misunderstood or disrespected….”People just don’t get you. Probably because they aren’t smart enough, deep enough or capable compassion. Just dismiss them and their actions.” Oh the things that I hear that aren’t true. These voices seem so loud at times. I’m often bombarded with voices that seek to keep my drowning in fear, anger and sorrow. These voices want to keep me isolated and destroy my relationships. Popular music is often full of melancholy lyrics or anger. That’s why I stay away from it in general. A lot of movies have negative themes and a lot of art and fashion can be displeasing as well and cause emotions to rise within me that aren’t healthy. Notice I said SOME because there is a lot of great art, music, sculpture, art and movies. I’m just saying that I believe I should be careful what I’m putting into my heart and mind.
I’m grateful for the renewing of my mind and the truth that I hear. Even though my situation or circumstance might not speak truth, it’s still being spoken over me, to me and in me by the Holy Spirit. God’s Word helps to counteract the lies that I’m faced with but to hear the small, still voice of my Shepherd I have to practice listening. Just as I have been trained in certain exercises and continue to train myself to be disciplined in moving my body more and eating less I must train myself to read, ingest and memorize the truth. I can also hear God’s voice on a trail as I run, while I listen to worship when I’m cooking or doing laundry, as I run and talk with a friend, as I play with my children. If my soul is ready to listen it can hear. But to listen I must stop speaking. I must be silent.
Also I surround myself with positive people who speak truth, have a greater understanding of reality and most often are aware of my struggle. This support community intentionally tries to uplift me and be that “angel” on my shoulder helping me hear the voice of reason, the voice of truth. I have such a community in Celebrate Recovery. I’ve written about accountability previously, but I find it so important that I reiterate the point. It’s not bad to hear things that aren’t being said. The question is….how will you respond? How will I respond to what I hear? Will I have the courage to quell the negative voices and send them “poofing” away and walk in truth that is so much richer, higher, purer than a moment of temporary satisfaction that usually leads to guilt, shame and destruction. Lord…may your still voice be the loudest that I hear. May “You Speak”!!!