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  • Writer's pictureJo de Blois

How can we tame muscular addictions? A story on self-discipline

I read a quote the other day. It said: “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. ... “ I am thinking about that as I look at the German Shepherd pup I recently got. It is lying at my feet, fast and soundless asleep, while tightly hugging a stuffed Peppa Pig to its chest. It is cute, but I have no illusions. It is about to start teething, and it will shred the same, lovable Peppa Pig to pieces. That will be the start of fast growth. Soon, it will weigh only a little less than me. But I am mostly bones and fluff. The dog will be mostly muscle. It will have an instinctual drive to pull me to places I don’t want to go. Like squirrels and mud puddles and other stuff, I have little interest in seeing up close.

Unless… I right now train this fluffball. I subject it to my will. I spend much time teaching it obedience and commands with strong consistency. I teach it to walk right next to me, squirrel or no squirrel. I train its instinct to want to obey me more than to roll in a mud pool. And so, I am determined to do for the sake of my future.

The same counts for our addictions. The seemingly harmless addictions, like a drink that we take because we don’t want to feel anything right now. Or watching compromised movies that may trigger that part of our brain that will want more… Or food that we shouldn’t eat, and we know if we eat this one innocent cookie, we won’t be able to stop. Seemingly harmless things will grow. We sometimes don’t see the danger because it is just a part of us, a small part of us. We think it is still smaller and lighter than us. That we still have power over it. But addictions have more muscle than we do. They have more power. They have more determination. They will take us to places we don’t want to go. Soon.

This is why the gray sins are so very, very dangerous. Something in our mind makes us justify what we do wrong, and we don’t realize that that will kill us down the road. Sure, we can eat a pack of cookies now, and it is not perse morally wrong, we think… not realizing that we set ourselves up for a habit we may not be able to change down the road. We just started a pathway in our brain paved with highly addictive sugar.

So how can we kill our potentially destructive, starting addictions, whatever they are? Every change in life, any growth in life, whether it is spiritual, personal, or relational growth, starts with us acknowledging our faults, weaknesses, and blind spots. Become accountable. Stop with the excuses and deflections of bad habits, sins, faults, and shortcomings.

The biggest enemy to a healthy life is having too much confidence in ourselves and a lack of accountability. We tend to believe we are strong enough, good enough, or determined to deal with our problems later. Well, that is a bad idea. First of all, because cute little tiny fluffy problems grow. Second, Eph 4:22-24 says that our own minds are deceitful and corrupt. Deceit and corruption mean that the old self is not that easy to deal with. It pulls a wall over our eyes. It allows us to procrastinate. It puts us to sleep. It whispers to us that we are stronger than we are. That we are better than we are. So let’s not have illusions but acknowledge that we are weak, and we need to fortify our weaknesses to be less weak down the road.

Remember: we suffer from discipline, or we suffer from regret. Regret is a way tougher emotion to deal with, and it hurts much more than discipline and self-discipline. Let’s rule our minds before it rules us. Let’s rule over our old self before it rules over us.

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