As the year began the television programs and magazines quickly spread themes of starting afresh. “Live Your Best Life!” “Eating Well in 2009” “Celebrate Yourself!” As someone with a chronic illness, these simple quotes can sometimes be more disheartening than helpful. We’d like to live our best life, eat well and even celebrate our self; instead if feels like our illness controls us, we crave foods we shouldn’t eat and can barely afford all that healthy food anyway. How on earth can we celebrate our self when it feels like our body is turning against us at every turn?
After the last four months of fighting an infection with the flesh eating virus, I’ve personally struggled with more fatigue and pain than ever before. The flu during the holidays followed by a deep cough turned into a major flare of my sides and back. My husband stayed home from work in order to help me stand up or get up from the bed. This does not mesh well with my strong independent side or how I imagined marriage this early in my life.
After being discharged from the wound care center a couple of weeks ago, however, I left with a sense of entitlement to go get something to eat to celebrate. I could justifiably eat something gooey, sticky, sweet, and not feel bad, right? As I drove towards home, however, I decided I would celebrate myself instead. I would start eating healthier right this moment. I made a right turn and went to my favorite coffee drive through that has two dozen sugar-free flavors. I celebrated with a large iced-decaf-raspberry truffle coffee—sugar-free and guilt-free.
That was nearly two weeks ago. I’ve hardly eaten anything I should not except a bit of Chinese food, and not a pound has been lost. But I am still celebrating because I no longer have food controlling me. I don’t think about it as much. I got out my lo-carb cookbooks and have actually bought more groceries in the produce section than other parts of the store.
How can we celebrate our self when life seems to be canceling any party we start to plan?
· Choose just one area to work on. Don’t make a list of eight goals that will feel overwhelming.
· Do your best. That means that you recognize that there will be set backs. You may get sick on top of being ill. You may need medication for a condition which will increase weight gain. It may snow the week you decide to start walking. Don’t be discouraged by things out of your control, but rather expect them to occur.
· Think about what your real goal is. Don’t set a goal to be skinny. Instead, see weight loss or eating better as a way to spend a few more years here on earth with those you love. If you decide to have a stricter budget, don’t think of it as a punishment, but rather a way to only spend money on those things that are most needed or most important to you. Remember, money quickly shows us where our heart is.
· Take one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. I’m clipping coupons and organizing them better so I actually can find them when I need them. Every time I go to the refrigerator looking for a snack I drink a huge glass of sparkling water first. Celebrate these little things you’ve accomplished.
Lastly, remember that you are already special and loved, regardless of the size of your pants or your pocketbook. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” And as you are thinking of ways to celebrate yourself, remember 2 Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”
Sometimes it seems no matter how hard we try to accomplish something our efforts are thwarted. And then out of nowhere a surprise may occur. Perhaps a check shows up in the mail that was unexpected. A friend you lost touch with calls to get together. Maybe three pounds suddenly drops off that scale just as you were ready to give up. Oftentimes God allows us to get right to the place where we know we cannot accomplish something on our own, so that when it does occur, we have to say, “I don’t know how this happened. I tried it on my own so long! It must be a God-thing!” So don’t give up. Celebrate yourself by celebrating every effort you make to be the person God designed you to be.