I am at a difficult place in my journey to a healthy, strong body. I have done well and have been consistent with my walking and drinking water (water makes me gag). It’s been just over three weeks since I started. Most days I have done more than I should.
“Well done!” you say? Hmmm… The problem with people telling you that you are doing well is that you start to believe it.
Those exact borders around “two litres of water a day” become fuzzy and turns into “My body knows how much it needs, surely I don’t need to track it EVERY day”. And the half an hour walk becomes a dog walk/run at a varying pace. “Surely it’s still the same?”
So I mess up today and tomorrow I wake up with a cloud over me. Of guilt and low-level shame. “I should do better. I should be better.” And then today is stressful or I feel ill or tired and today becomes a bad day for drinking water and exercising as well, and the load on my chest tomorrow morning is even heavier than before.
But then I realise that this is my cycle. It has been like this all my life. Whenever I try to start a new habit or endeavour, I try my best to keep going through my own strength or willpower. And that is only possible for so long until my flesh takes the reigns again and says: “Maybe you were wrong. Maybe you can’t do this. Sit down and have a rest. Or even better, have a chocolate.”
And I realise that there is a liar lurking. “The devil is a liar”, my good friend Yemii Haastrup used to say. He convinces me sweetly that I tried my best and that it would be better for everyone if I just quit. And I recognise the lie that I have believed all my life: “If I mess up once, it’s over.” And I realise that it creeps into my parenting, into my writing, into making friends. There’s no room for grace.
And the One I love is all about Grace.
So, here’s what you need to know if you are about to quit that job, form a new habit, kick an old habit, learn a new skill or anything else you set your mind to:
- One bad day/meal/project DOES NOT mean it’s over. Tomorrow is a new day. Don’t give up today. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18, NIV);
- The devil is a liar. Every voice that tells you that you can’t do this, or that you are a failure or not good enough is from him. Don’t fall for it. Tell him the truth: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,”* and just do the next right thing;
- If you are struggling to meet your target every day, perhaps your goal is too big. Break it up into bite-sized chunks. For example, if you are trying to create a new habit of running, start by walking first;
- Be kind to yourself. If you wouldn’t tell someone you love that they are a “Loser”, don’t say it to yourself. Set rewards for yourself along the way as you reach your smaller goals;
- You are awesome! Keep going.
And I will keep going too. Because I want to be able to say in both the natural and the spiritual things:
*Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.