By Jane Thornton
“Let’s make a pact.” My friend thrust her hand over the center of the table. Each of us layered our own hands over hers where they hovered above the soggy-lump remnants of an annihilated chocolate melting cake strewn across a plate. With great solemnity, we all took the pledge. “The diet starts . . . tomorrow.”
Easy to say with stomachs bloated by chips, salsa, onion rings, burgers, and, of course, chocolate.
Many people think I can’t relate to dieting woes. I have, after all, been comparatively thin most of my life. In fact, in junior high I suffered with being too skinny. I know, I know. Many of you are echoing the words of Tevia in Fiddler on the Roof, “May God strike me with such a curse, and may I never recover.”
One afternoon during those years, I waited for the bus on the crowded concrete courtyard. I looked down and noticed the shadows of my legs differed radically from those of the children around me. Mine resembled long swizzle sticks. With a surreptitious glance at the throng of potential tormentors, I clamped my knobby knees together in an attempt to create one normal-sized shadow. I guess I thought being one-legged was less worthy of taunts than being rail thin.
Twenty years later, when I managed to lose all my baby weight after pregnancy number two, a dear friend admonished in gloating tones, “Just wait until you turn thirty-five. It won’t come off so easily then.” I think I heard glee in her voice as she pictured my body older and plumper. She moved off, and I haven’t let her know that her dreams came true, practically to the day of her prediction.
Still, although I don’t have the svelte figure of my youth, my weight problems are minor compared to many close friends. Life is definitely not fair. By rights, my eating habits should make me obese. During the above pact-making, I revealed my weight when we set our goals. I thought my friend might strangle me. She exclaimed that a certain single female part of her anatomy weighed more than I did.
However, set our goals we did, and we’ve been at it for four miserable days now.
So, in my attempts to maintain my resolution, I turn to scripture. I must admit that I probably first turned there in search of an excuse to back out of the deal. But my daughter, living right here in the house with me, is part of the pact, and, aware of my wobbling, she sent me to I Corinthians 6:19-20. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (NIV)
Ouch. But I can rationalize with the best of them. I go back to the inappropriate comparisons of myself to others instead of to God’s expectations. Then another scripture nabs my attention. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Double ouch. That last one, self-control, is a killer for me—and not just with my food intake. I am a bookaholic, to the harm of my marriage and parenting. My tongue slips its reins often. I’ll stop the list there. So, I’ll read this scripture and pray this scripture and take one day, one hour, one minute, one prayer at a time.