2013 was not the most pleasant of years, but it certainly wasn't the most difficult. Miles health has been a little better. Work has been more stressful. Max has brought us much fun and laughter. Friends and family struggle. Two credit cards were paid off. God has taught us very much, and I do believe the root has been self-control.
I was at the gym a few days ago, and someone I had not seen in awhile asked about Miles' health. We have made so many diet changes that it is ridiculous. We have seen some glimpses of improved health, but for the last two weeks we have seen a significant improvement in his health. For a year, Miles has eaten basically meats & greens. He cut out sugar, corn, gluten, grains, carbs, fruit, dairy, caffeine, etc. Two weeks ago, he started eating homemade fermented foods, and drinking bone broth. It seems to have healed (or at least begun the process of healing) his leaky gut, and now he can eat more things. The lady said to me, "I am so proud of you guys. Most people just give up and live with whatever their symptoms are. You two have implemented a difficult diet, and continued to do your own research after doctors just tried to label an autoimmune disease that you were going to have to live with. That is an incredible amount of self-control that most people don't have. They would rather take a pill, or give up." I had never thought about it that way before. Another friend was so encouraged by Miles' improvement, that they asked if he would talk to one of their friends who was bed-ridden (as Miles had been two years ago) to tell them what he was doing. Miles talked to the person, and they were unwilling to do what Miles was doing. They were BED-RIDDEN, and they didn't have the self-control to just eat better to feel better. We are so lazy as a society.
The other night, I saw bits and pieces of "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" on HLN. It is an excellent documentary on obesity. I hope to soon find time to watch it in its entirety. We as a nation are so concerned about how a food makes us feel that we don't even have the self-control to eat what will help us. We will eat ourselves to death . . . literally.
Though I struggle some with self-control, I know that my temperament is more self-controlled than the average person, as I recall my childhood. My mom would give me $1 a week to buy a $0.20 ice cream each day at lunch. If I wanted to save the money, I could. I went years in elementary school with no ice cream at lunch, because I knew that I could save the money and go on vacation to the beach with alot of money in the summer. My mom almost felt bad for me because I was one of the very few kids that didn't have ice cream at lunch. I saw the benefits of delayed gratification at a young age.
If you aren't familiar with the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, you need to search for videos about it. A child is put in a room with a marshmallow. They are told that they can eat the marshmallow. The other option is for them to wait as the researcher leaves the room and then returns. If they wait until the researcher returns to the room, and they haven't eaten their marshmallow, they will be given another marshmallow. So eat immediately and enjoy one, or don't eat now, but eat two later. Kids were licking the marshmallow, they were turning their heads away from the marshmallow, etc . . . very funny videos! They found that the children that could delay gratification were more successful in life. They could see the value of controlling themselves to wait in the face of not being happy in the moment.
As Americans, we are all about doing what feels good, and it has resulted in a lot of problems: poor health, obesity, out of control children, bullying, disrespect of people, dropping out of school, failure, misery, falling away from God. Self-control is a struggle for everyone, but it is crucial to life in this world and the one to come.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (Galatians 6:22-26)
Though self-control comes more easily to some (as do other parts of the fruit of the Spirit), self-control is a result of living in the Spirit. It is crucifying the flesh, and living by the Spirit. It is about the change the Christ makes in us when we live in the Spirit.
As a child, I was able to sit next to my classmates all year long as they ate ice cream and not buy any because my eye was on the prize: Having a large amount of money to buy something bigger when I went on vacation. Miles was able to cut all of those things out of his diet because his eye was on the prize: Better health. Parents that have the self-control and discipline to inflict temporary pain (time-out, spanking, not getting what they want) on their children are able to do this because they have their eye on the prize: Respectful, independent, and well-adjusted children.
So this year, make a resolution to keep your eye on the prize: Christ,
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3
The prize is Christ . . . the self-control is: abiding in Him, being grateful, choosing to love people, forgiving, etc, etc.