Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Measure of Self-Control -- Hope Chronicles 55

Okay, I know I probably shouldn't use "self-control" in the title because it will scare some of you off. But if you can get past the word, please read on!

Mali is one of my cats. I got her as a six month old kitten. She had been a stray before turning up at the local Humane Society. We have routinely gone round and round in food battles. (Click here for more info on those.) She has been incorrigible and bold enough to try and steal from my plate. (No she is not allowed on the table, but if it involves food she will try anything.) If I do happen to give the cats a morsel of people food, Katy will sniff it trying to decide if it is edible. Before you know it, Mali has snagged it.

Katy does like cat treats though. So, I give them to both Katy and Mali and physically keep Mali from snagging all of the treats. Both cats scamper to me when they hear the lid to the cat treats come off.

I'm daring to hope that Mali has gained some measure of self-control, that it has sunk into her heart that she will always get fed. The other night, I opened the treat jar. Katy came right away. Mali lounged on the back of the couch. I rattled the jar. She still wasn't interested.

Last night I dared to brown some taco meat and eat without putting Mali in the other room. She wound around my legs and I admit to keeping a watchful eye. Amazingly, she didn't pop onto the counter or the table! I think my little monster has learned a measure of self-control. (For those of you for whom this raises concern, her other behaviors has been normal and she has eaten normal amounts last night and today.)

Needless to say, this has gotten me thinking about self-control in my own life. Can someone look and see or hear the difference in my life.

I think our thoughts have a good deal to do with self-control in any area. For example, two areas I need self-control over are eating and exercise. I find that I do well for awhile and then I fall into the trap of "I've done so well for this amount of time, indulging now won't hurt." That must be twisted thinking to reward yourself in the behavior that you have been working on.

I used my concordance to look up self-control in the Bible. I was particularly challenged by these verses in 1 Peter 1:13-15:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

Too often I think of self-control just as a refraining from something -- like the M&Ms in the snack machine. Really, it is much more proactive than that: prepare your minds, be self-controlled, set your hope. Planning what I am going to have instead of the M&Ms or more than one meal in advance or when I will exercise is really the heart of self-control. If I just refrain, I'll feel deprived. If I fix my eyes on something more -- on Jesus -- even when it comes to exercise and eating and harsh words, I will have filled that "hole" with something far more fulfilling.

What do you do to enact a measure of self-control in your life?

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Nancy said...

For me self-control involves exercise or practice. If I am doing something too much, I practice limiting it. If I find myself not doing something enough, I practice do it. To view it as an exercise helps me put the needed behavior into action.

It was nice to visit your site and love cats!

Natalie @ I AM (not) said...

mmmm, good thought about being proactive rather than reactive. Great!

Melissa said...

Oh Amy, you are speaking my language! I only wish I was better at it. Self control is a weakness for me. To enact self control, I have found that the best thing that helps me is enlisting accountability from a few friends. Also, having a plan beyond the moment, like you mentioned.

Thanks also for the verse from 1 Peter:)

Love ya,

Laura said...

Honey, you are not alone in this struggle. As I read your post, I found myself craving a taco! It is now almost midnight. Self-control, self-control...

mark savage said...

Amy, this is an excellent article. One that meets me right where I am.

Thanks for the needed encouragement.