Saints keep trying and sinners give up {with Ignitum Today}

Saints keep trying and sinners give up {with Ignitum Today}

Saints Keep Trying; Sinners Give Up (2)

Confession: I haven’t always lived the shiniest life ever. As Freddie Mercury so emphatically sang, ” … and bad mistakes/I’ve made a few.” Or five hundred.

But since my reversion process began, with many starts and pauses along the way, I’ve really tried to walk as a child of the light, and part of that walk, for me, means taking care of myself by not smoking, not drinking to excess, not using illicit drugs, and staying true to my marriage vows.

Am I perfect? Excuse me while I go laugh myself completely off the page. No. I am absolutely not perfect. Just ask my husband and my children. But I keep trying. And trying. And trying. Ad nauseum. My Mom used to tell me growing up that saints keep trying while sinners give up. Well, I haven’t completely given up yet. I surely have a long way to go, but I hope it’s a shorter climb than it was when I was living as a agnostic hedonist 20 years ago.

And there are plenty of temptations, even as a mostly clean-living person. That used to surprise me: “I’m doing the right things! I love Jesus! I pray! I go to Mass every Sunday! I go to Confession! Why am I still being tempted?!” After some prayerful reflection, however, the ongoing temptations made so much sense: Of course I’m being tempted. Usually the enemy will try to get you where he’s gotten you before, and if you aren’t vigilant, BOOM! You’re taken completely off-guard by temptation that you thought you’d conquered years (or months or days) ago. The enemy of our souls doesn’t want us in the game of life at all, and especially not a life surrendered to Jesus, so he’ll use whatever he possibly can to take us out of the game.

Usually any desire I have to backslide is eventually trumped by my desire for Heaven.

Except. I still struggle. For several years now – maybe even for most of my life – the devil has been doing whatever he can to keep me out of the game using something that we all need to survive: food.

It’s not like there’s something morally wrong with food, as can be argued with other addictions. If someone handed me a bottle of vodka, I could graciously decline by saying, “No thanks, I’m cool.” I don’t NEED alcohol to survive, although after long days with lotsa kids, it surely can feel like it! 😉 But with food, man, it’s hard. We need food to survive. Granted, do I need mint M&Ms and pork rinds and chocolate cake to survive? No. But the stuff that nourishes always seems to be right next to the stuff that doesn’t on the buffet table. And so I take some. And eat it. And then I want more, so I eat more. And then I feel badly. So I eat more again. And on and on it goes.

Not only do I have a hard time with self-control and food choices, I really don’t care for exercise. Like, I hate it. That’s not a good combination. After five pregnancies in nine years, I think I probably could stand to lose about 75 pounds. The extra weight I carry contributes to feelings of depression, anxiety, fatigue, worthlessness … so many things. And yet, I continue to struggle.

IMG_3945
One of my babies accidentally took this picture of me typing at the computer the other day. This is my fat.

For some reason, I especially struggle with keeping sugar at bay. It’s like my kryptonite or something. Seemingly, a pattern was established from early childhood: I remember the neighbor girl taking me across the street to buy sweets at the corner store. I remember using my garage sale money to buy ungodly amounts of candy. I remember my grandmother greeting me with a box of Red Vines whenever we’d visit. I remember going out for ice cream after each band concert, piano recital, play performance …

Last summer, I really and honestly rallied to make a permanent lifestyle change. After the cloud of post-partum depression from my fifth pregnancy finally lifted, I decided I was tired of being a food zombie, mindlessly eating whatever, whenever, and joined a national weight loss program. I lost weight. I stuck to my guns and lost more. I felt really, really good about my progress. Then we were hit by a cloud of stress including a surprising cross-country move and some other really tough things, and the weight started creeping – and then leaping – back on. I tried to go to meetings, but my previous resolve seemed so very far away and outside my ability.

I don’t know if my attachment to food – specifically to sugar – could be classified as an addiction, but maybe? I sometimes feel powerless to its allure. I have all the resolve in the world … until I don’t. I feel empowered … until I don’t. I exercise amazing self-control … until something like this happens on the day I have a Mother’s helper and am supposed to be working on 5,000 words for my end-of-the-month deadline:

kolbe pantry

And then I want to drink all the sugary coffee drinks in the world to make myself feel better.

Yet …  I only feel better for a tiny window of space and time, and then … I don’t. I feel awful. I’ve fallen. Again. It makes me feel so dumb and helpless. I’m a smart person! I love Jesus! I have overcome so. many. things! Why can’t I overcome this??!

I spoke with my Spiritual Director about self-control the other day. It was interesting, because as I lamented how I frequently don’t feel like I have the power within me to say,”no,” he sagely suggested: “Perhaps, Heather, you need to do this for someone other than yourself.” What he was suggesting was that I offer up my cravings and self-discipline in food choices and exercise as a sacrificial prayer for other people, causes, and intentions. He was encouraging me, in essence to nail my temptation to the Cross.

Little did he know, I have attempted this maneuver before. I even wrote about it on this here blog, and it got a bit of a spruce-up for my very first article (just published) for Ignitum Today. <<EXCITING!!!!!

Bottom line? Perhaps, dear readers, it is time for me to pick up my cross and try yet again. Will you please, please pray for me? I would very much like to know how I may pray for you as I’m on this journey. Maybe you’re struggling with something that’s really tough for you, too, and just don’t know how you’re going to overcome it. Maybe you just need to know that you’re not alone. Feel free to be specific or just say “special intention” in the comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you! <3

Oh, and by the way – yes, I did buy that gorgeously blended coffee drink (above) today. But it is sugar-free, half-caffeinated, with non-fat milk. Baby steps, y’all.

Peace,

heather

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39 thoughts on “Saints keep trying and sinners give up {with Ignitum Today}

  1. If you’d like to lift up some high holy hands that my husband Jon gets a new (pastoral) call and that I could maintain my sanity during that time, I’d appreciate it!

  2. Once, when I was deep in my own struggle with temptation, I prayed and asked God for help, clearly admitting my weakness. God is so smart, He can answer in just 6 words, “How much do you love Me?”
    When I feel weak, I try to remember those 6 words. I know falling prey to temptation compromises the ministry He uses through the example of our lives, but sometimes it is so difficult.
    I will pray for you, please pray for me too.

    1. “How much do you love Me?” What a beautiful (and convicting!) phrase upon which to meditate. Prayers always, dear Shaina. ❤️

  3. Oh, this so, so describes my struggle as well! I just went to confession today and confessed gluttony with food for the umpteenth time. I told Father that I don’t feel like I’m “making any progress”. He said just returning and returning again to confession itself is progress…part of me knows that as Truth and part of me is so darn frustrated. I think part of me does NOT want to overcome this addiction — because I will have to surrender my “beloved” junk food over to Jesus. If you will pray for me in this area and I will pray for you as well!

    1. It sounds like you confessed to a very wise priest. ☺️ Yes – it is so terribly frustrating! “Take this cup away from me,” comes to mind. I will definitely pray for you, Karyn, and thank you *so much* for your prayers!

  4. I will not only pray for you, I will walk the same road, so do pray for me too. With God’s help we shall be able walk pass Willy Wonka’s garden.

    1. Thank you so much, Rosario – I will absoLUTEly pray for you. Darn that Willy Wonka, man. He is the worst. 😉

  5. I could have written this myself, I struggle with exactly this. All the time. my whole life. Thank you for being so candid about this very real problem. I will pray for you, will you pray for me?

    1. Allicia, my friend, I am praying for you. In fact, I am eating a carrot stick right now – and it’s got your name and struggles written all over it. 😉 God bless you, sister. <3

  6. I am right there with you. My fifth baby is eight months old and I am struggling to lose the pregnancy weight. All winter into spring, I trained for a half marathon and that kind of running is very forgiving…I ate like crap and managed to stay around the same weight. Now that that’s over, though…yikes. Reality hits again! I’ll keep you in my prayers as I work toward the same goal…good health for mama!

    1. Good health for Mama … that’s really what it’s all about. How can we continually run these physical, spiritual, and emotional marathons (half and whole) and all these wind sprints if we don’t even have our workout shoes on? Will pray for you, Ashley. Thanks for stopping by. <3

  7. Hi Heather, I feel you. One day I woke up with a closet full of clothes ranging in sizes of 2-12. Each season seemed to require that I push the smaller sizes to the back, its like a layering of sedimentary rock, layer by layer, season by season. The clothes are frozen in time! And then somehow it happened, someone captured me in a photo or two. I’m not sure how it happened but evidently my increased size prevented me from dodging the camera fast enough. I was looking at pics with Marlin and I think she saw the shock on my face, maybe it wasn’t shock but certainly disappointment in myself and she spoke a lie, saying that it was a good pic of the two of us. to save my feelings.
    I made a determination, that something had to give. I waited till summer when Marlin would go off to camp and then I began a radical transformation plan. I made calculations of exactly how much exercise (which I hate too) and calorie reduction I would need in order to accomplish my goal. I researched the best foods to eat to nourish my body with as few calories as possible and the insane amount of time and effort I would need to put forth. So I quit.
    Not really God spoke to me and the message was that when I truly feel like throwing in the towel I should do more not less, not only pick up my cross but embrace it and that is how I would persevere. Its only been 2 weeks but I am losing, 10 down and 50 to go! But as things would turn out it’s not just the mission of losing weight that God was speaking to me about that but also about spiritual conditioning. A reminder for me that, when things get difficult that is the time that I need to hold on, dig in and unite myself with Christ in my sufferings.
    So My Sister, all I can tell you is to Hold On, Dig In and Embrace the Cross. Hope that helps. You can do it!!

    1. Wise, wise words, my friend. It is definitely about spiritual conditioning, too. I have found that when I lack self-control and discipline in one area, it bleeds over into other areas, as well, and I just don’t have time for that! Good for you for calling a spade a spade and many congratulations on your success so far; I will pray with and for you that your (our) journey continues to be fruitful both physically and spiritually! Miss you. <3

  8. You’re in my prayers. Could you please pray for our job situations. Thank you Heather!
    Yes you can!

  9. As I read your post I felt like I was reading my biography. My husband doesn’t understand. For him it is easy to loose weight. He just eats less. It is so much more complicated for me. I will pray for you.

    1. Dear Emily, you are not alone. My husband probably will never *need* to lose weight – he has always been tall and thin and will likely die tall and thin. He eats junk and loses weight. It’s disturbing. LOL I am praying for you, sister!! We can do this!! <3

  10. I know exactly what you are talking about and have struggle with food my whole life. Have you heard of the light weigh one king program? (google it) It is an incredible Catholic weight loss program that teaches you to eat in a way that helps you to permanently achieve peace with food…not just a temporary plan to get down to your goal. It also includes a bible study and other tools from the Saints (like sacrificing for others) to help you grow spiritually and find your strength in Jesus. After my fourth child, my weight loss stalled so I recently started a group and I have already lost 20 lbs out of the 50-60 I need to lose. This program can help with any kind of addiction or attachment but especially food! In Matthew 16:15 Jesus asks “Who do you say that I am?” I am constantly asking myself that when I struggle. The answer is He is my one and only King, and not food or any other temptation. I will pray and sacrifice for you!

    1. Thank you so much for the information! I had *not* heard of the group you mentioned; I will have to look it up, as peace with food and a reminder that God, not good, is sovereign sounds like a very, very good thing. Thank you for your prayers – I am praying for you, too! ❤️

  11. Thank you so much for writing this! I feel like we’re in the same boat here, except you have three more kids than I do, which I’m sure doesn’t make it easier. I’ve always struggled with my weight but I’m wondering more and more if it’s some sort of addiction. When I think about a food that I enjoy, I HAVE TO HAVE IT. You wouldn’t believe how many scoops of peanut butter I ate during my last pregnancy, just straight out of the jar (yes I know I was pregnant, but still…maybe that’s why my baby was 9.5 lbs :P). I gained 50 lbs during my first pregnancy and afterwards got back down to within 10 lbs of my pre-pregnancy weight. But then we also moved and … life … and then I had foot surgery, and then I was pregnant again and I started my second pregnancy 40 lbs heavier than my first *le sigh* I’m in, what I would assume to be, the same “national weight loss program” that you are and it’s working really well (it has for me before too). And I’m working out at home. Ugh. Not my favorite. But no matter how many rules I learn and how much I know about what I’m eating, whenever we go out to eat I still get a huge delicious juicy burger and wolf it down with all the french fries. So I guess my point is, it’s nice to commiserate a bit, so thank you for this. I’ll be praying for you if you’ll also pray for me in my own struggles. I think this can be done, though I know it’s much harder when the way we clean up kids’ leftovers is by eating them and (for me) when we have husbands who lose more weight by not working out. The struggle is real 😉 But I know it’s worth it.

    1. God bless you, Jessica! You are in the trenches, Mama, and I can sense you *get it.*. You should be so proud of the progress you’ve made – I hope you’ll keep in touch with me and let me know. I am so grateful for your prayers … trust that I am *le sigh*ing and struggling on the journey alongside you! ❤️

  12. You are so not alone. Remember those 24 lbs I dropped last year? Yup! 21 of them are BACK! They sure pile back on much easier than they are taken off!!
    I keep thinking about walking and counting points again. But… then the chips and salsa whisper out to me.
    Always praying for you my sweet friend!

    1. Well, this makes me just want to hop a flight back to Mobile and go for a walk in the sticky humidity alongside the mondo-sized bugs with you, my friend!! Please let me know how I can help. Thank you for your prayers and know of mine as well. Love you! ❤️

  13. They have proven that sugar addiction is equal to a heroine addiction. It’s hard, I have been there. I once went from a size 4 tom a size 18, in a matter of months. It started with just the 3 pieces of candy I said I could have out of my kids trick or treat bags. I couldn’t stop. It ended when I walked into a Lane Bryant store. I walked out and stopped the junk. It is a huge battle though and I have slipped many times. Probiotics which will improve gut health have been proven to break the cravings, at me house we like kombucha, milk kefir and sauerkraut. Try it, it works.

    1. Wow! Equal to heroin? That’s incredible! Thank you so much for the information, Maryjo – I am glad you have found healthy solutions! God bless you. ❤️

  14. I actually gave up “stress eating” this past Lent b/c I too struggle with food addiction. This past year (and what seems after every pregnancy), I develop more food sensitivities but I always try to find a way around it. When something causes me anxiety during the day, I tend to overeat on something that comforts me rather than going to God. I strongly believe I have these recent food sensitivities as His way of telling me to focus more on Him and to take better care of His Temple. It’s always a battle for me.

    I also wanted to leave you with what I read from St Francis de a Sales recently:

    Your temptations have returned, and although you have not said a word of consent to them, still they oppress you. You do not consent to them, and that is good, but you fear them too much. They would not be able to harm you if you did not fear them. You are too sensitive to these temptations. You love the faith and wish that not a single contrary thought would come to you, and as soon as one does, you are sad and troubled. You are too jealous of this purity of faith, and it seems that everything spoils it. But you should let the winds blow and not think that the whirling leaves are so many clashing armies. I was recently near some beehives, and some of the bees landed on my face. I wanted to shoo them away with my hand. “No,” said the beekeeper, “have no fear, and do not touch them; then they will not sting you. But should you touch them, you will indeed be stung.” I believed him and was not stung by a single one. Believe me in turn: do not fear temptations, and do not touch them, and they will not offend you. Pass them by, and take no interest in them. In the end, no human remedy has proven capable of healing this injury, which causes you a pain that you must wisely transmute into a perpetual penance. This is a blow from divine providence, so that you may have cause for patience and mortification. O what treasures will you be able to store up by this means! You must persevere and live as a true rose among thorns.

    1. How many times may I like this quote from St. Francis de Sales??! That is simply fantastic. What a gift. I will be returning to these words again and again. THANK YOU.

  15. Dear everyone who answered this blog, I feel your pain!! I have six children and have struggled with weight all my life. I am working on finding “peace with food”. I have been following the Light Weigh One King program – a Catholic spiritual weight loss program. It is worth the try!! Here is a link to view the orientation video: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=light+weigh+one+king+youtube&FORM=VIRE2#view=detail&mid=1FFA0DF83FC5E5A5D91A1FFA0DF83FC5E5A5D91A

    1. Dear Terry, thanks so much for the link! I will have to check if out. And thank you for your prayers! May God bless you in your journey as well! ❤️

  16. I have lost 10 lb recently. I still have 11 lb to go. It’s takes a lost of work to get the lb off. I am doing it to be healthy for my husband and son. I could not eat healthy but then I started calorie counting. It really helps me. Having a smart phone made that easier. I will pray for you. Can you pray for me that my husband and I feel a deeper emotional connection.

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