Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lose the Weight: Gluttony & Worry

What are you worried about these days?

What do you eat when you are worried? Anxious? Nervous? Upset? Afraid? Uncertain?

There's a connection between gluttony and worry. How many of us want to lose weight around our waist AND we wish we could shrug off the big backpack of worry that's wrapped around our shoulders? We become gluttons when we worry, when we open up the fridge or scrounge through the pantry to snack and ease our anxiety. We fuel our worry when we regret  that tub of chocolate fudge caramel peanut butter ice-cream.

For me and for many of my friends, in our effort to resist temptations of gluttony, we need to worry less. In my learning to master my fears, I find I'm learning to control my snacking and second-helpings. Fear and food too often go together in unhealthy ways. Jesus observed the connection and put it like this:
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, [gluttony and] drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. ~Luke 21:34 (NIV, 2011)

Our hearts and hips get weighed down, and we add to the burden when we fail to control our indulgences and insecurities. Gluttony may feel good for a moment, but it only adds to our problems. Remember: Gluttony = too soon, too much, too eagerly, too richly, too daintily.
And what is worry? Here's how some people put it:
“Worry is like a rocking chair--it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere.”
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.” ~W. R. Inge

How do you lose the weight of gluttony and worry? If they are often intertwined, what can be done to lighten the load of each? In looking at Jesus' words above, here are some considerations:

Pay Attention to your Heart.
When it comes to worry, you need to confess to someone else - at least to Jesus, and probably to a close friend - what you are anxious, nervous, or upset about. Confession gets the secret out of your heart and into the open. Confession allows you to share the burden with someone who cares. Confession opens you up to a new solution that undercuts the power of worry.

Along with confession comes repentance. In Hebrew the word repent means to turn around, to change your direction. In Greek the word means change your mind, your heart. Either way, repenting is committing to change, to good change. Confession and repentance go together as an antidote to worry and gluttony. Let a friend share the burden, and then together put in place the changes you've determined to make. Those are the kinds of prayers God loves to answer.

Pay Attention to Your Days.
 As you think about what you've been confessing, of what you've been repenting, it's worth considering what your days are like. What are your habits and patterns, daily routines and weekly ruts that shape your life? Everybody has good habits that add to your life, and bad habits that drain your life. What are yours? Which of them need to be changed? Repented of? Confession and repentance strengthen your resolve to change your daily and weekly ruts.

When you take into account your habits and ruts, you ought to project into the future where all this is taking you? What's the bigger picture - if you change, and if you don't change. What if you leave life the way it is now - weighed down with gluttony and worry? How is that working out for you now? What will that be like in a year? Ten years? What if you started shrugging off the baggage of anxiety now? What if you did the really hard work of repenting and changing your worrisome ruts now?

Pay Attention to Jesus.
He'll help you relax and respond to God's initiatives in your life. Here's what he has to say about how he can help you today:
"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving.

People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. ~Matthew 6:25, 30-34 (The Message)

You Can Lose the Weight of Worry and Gluttony.

This is the kind of work Jesus can sustain in your life. He can help you carry the load. He can help you change. Jesus is with you.

Jesus says, "Relax!"

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