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Self-Denial

I’m cranky about denying myself.  Self-denial is for the birds.  Of course, it’s also commanded for Christ followers, so I guess I’d better learn how to fly, build a nest, and regurgitate food for my babies.
There are two things I’ve been denying myself intentionally.  One is unhealthy food.  Two is spending money.  I’ve been inconsistent at best with #1.  I’m doing well with #2.  I’m angry about both, and they’re related, and I’m mad about that, too.
The first issue—the diet.  That’s a four-letter word I’ve never used before.  But, a week or so ago, I stepped on the scales.  I suspected they’d tell me I weighed as much as I ever have (non-prego).  What they told me was much more difficult—I weigh FIVE POUNDS MORE than I’ve ever weighed before.  Now some of you are sneering at the “five pounds,” but I ask—Are you 5’2” with a tiny bone structure?  There’s not much room for five pounds to hide, and they’re not hiding very well.  I cried when I looked at the scale.  I knew I hadn’t been to the gym in a while (They mistakenly de-activated our account, and re-activating it will involve paperwork that’s just too hard to do with two kids in tow.), and I was now very motivated to go.  This gets us to the second issue…
Money.  We’re doing Financial Peace University right now.  It involves living on a budget, which we’ve successfully and unsuccessfully done at different times in our marriage.  I can live on a budget.  I’m having  a hard time living on THIS budget.  In THIS budget, there’s no money for a gym membership.  That realization catalyzed an onslaught of tears.  It is extremely frustrating to want to the right, hard thing but not be able to do it.  Of course, following the budget is another right, hard thing to do.  Ugh!
The reason there’s no money in the budget for a gym membership is because we’re paying down credit card debt.  I’ve had a credit card for twelve years, and this is the first year it’s ever had a balance.  There’s no reason it should.  Our spending got out of hand, and I wasn’t responsibly following our finances, and we ended up in credit card debt.  Being in debt means no gym membership, which leads me to another issue…
Self-image.  This is not an issue I’ve struggled with much.  In fact, I often roll my eyes at females who have Eeyore’s attitude when it comes to their appearance.   I want to say, “You’re beautiful.  Accept it, and move the heck along!”  I’m no knock-out, and I’ve certainly gone through my share of ugly duckling phases.  Sure there are things about my appearance I could do without, but it’s not something that affects me…until now.  For the first time, I’m struggling with the image in the mirror.  This doesn’t make me angry; it makes me sad; it makes me cry. 
I don’t want to deny myself good food.  I’m an “everything in moderation” kind of girl.  I can pig out on Thanksgiving, and eat a mostly egg-white omelet with veggies the next morning, and be happy about it.  The idea and practice of moderating my diet all the time makes me want to eat a bag of Tostitos.
I don’t want to deny myself a gym membership.  I know that when we get the debt paid down, we’ll be in better shape financially.  But that’ll be well into 2012, and I could be in awful shape physically by then. 
Through all of this, I hear the Bible in my head:  If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)  Why did Jesus have to say that?!  Why does that if/then, conditional statement have to be so absolutely essential to being a Christian?! 
I also hear the fruit of the Spirit in my head, and I can have the “self-control piece,” but having it AT THE SAME TIME as the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness,”—having a hard time with that.

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