I have a tricky relationship with sugar. Or really it’s not tricky, I would just prefer to eat like a 6-year-old who gets paid in Sweet-tarts for working in the Snickers factory. We swim in the white stuff in this time and place; the only natural shorelines are body image and health. Vanity is no godly motivator, though looking your best is not sin. And we live in a culture obsessed with health and safety, which of course reacting to by reckless living would be foolish. I rebel against an asceticism that will not change the heart, and yet I take that too far to rationalize my own indulgence. So maybe it is a bit tricky or more biblically put, requires wisdom.
All that to say, I committed this week to 6 days without desserts or snacks. Self-denial is not my strength. Give me an action or inflict pain and I’ll take it like a woman, but ask me to wait without… NO!! Anything but that!
So why torture myself in this way? First, to gain the perspective that this hardly qualifies for torture. I have much to be thankful for. Second, because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit that overflows to all of my life and produces more worship to its rightful Owner. And third, because I have little people following me whose spiritual senses have barely tasted the sweet fruit of righteous living, but who increasingly face the bitter enticements of the world.
I think one of the most legitimate frustrations kids can feel is knowing that the parents who are to lead them can not say “follow,” but instead insist on “you go first.” It’s pretty sick when you think about it- burdening a child with a weight you won’t carry. Or I’m often guilty of the reverse- we’ll all just stay down here and wallow together.
In order to lead our kids, we have to go first. This week, I’m tasting what I haven’t for too long, the hard fight of self-discipline. And the result so far has surprised me. I am calling my kids to higher standards with more mercy because I know the climb is grueling, but I can also assure them the view is worth it. You can’t call someone further up and further in from behind.