Anyone who knows me, knows I am obsessed with my children… and with being the best dad and friend I can be to them. Regardless of the amount of time they spend with me, I always want more. This year, I decided that a weekend near their birthday would be a full weekend of celebration. Everything gets put on hold, except having fun around each other and celebrating whichever of them is turning a year older. On those weekends, we kind of let some things slide.
Things like, what my kids call, “Blue Doritos.”
As my teenage daughter, Alyson, sometimes says out of frustration, “There is literally nothing in your house that is unhealthy!” I fully blame this on Jesus and Kacie, who I’m completely convinced are in a conspiracy together to make me the most spiritually, physically, and artistically healthy version of myself that I can be… but I don’t have time for that story… it’s a book (or album) of it’s own.
Yesterday marked the first evening of Samuel’s 9th birthday celebration. He and my youngest, Will, had sword fights, ate popcorn and candy, and watch the old Swiss Family Robinson movie until they passed out… at the VERY late hour of 7:15pm.
After the boys go to bed, it’s always my time to spend with Alyson working on music, watching a movie, or discussing our view of life and God. Last night, she was eating Doritos as we were watching a movie, then she reached over and handed me one…
Me: “Gross! How did I ever eat these things?!”
Aly: “Because they’re your favorite.”
Me: “I know.”
Apparently, eating healthy has completely changed the food I find appealing (thanks for ruining Doritos for me, Kacie).
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” -James 1:14
Why do we gravitate toward things that are unhealthy? We substitute tomorrow for the moment. Sometimes, that may be okay… but not as a general practice. It may taste amazing to eat that entire family size bag of Doritos in one sitting… or drink that entire bottle of wine in an evening… or to spend all your money on worthless things… but you’re probably not going to love how you feel in the morning. While that may be all well and good occasionally… eventually, a regular diet of that results in you forgetting what being healthy feels like, and you begin to accept the way you feel physically and mentally as the new normal.
We could blame the ease of unhealthy patterns on our (the USA! go murica!) consumer mentality of immediate gratification at the expense of long-term impact, or we could blame it on the shallowness inspired by social media to present a “now” life that is constantly amazing, but… it seems like that is all just a symptom of something deeper within us.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on the notion of “patterns” and how to break out of negative or unhealthy patterns (I wrote a little about it here). Specifically, I’ve been meditating on what Paul meant when he wrote:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2
One thing I do know: Paul was not telling us to trade one set of rules for another. He was not telling us to turn Jesus’ message into a new law with which to enchain and judge people, resulting in a slammed door toward those seeking after God.
Paul said we break out of the pattern of the masses by renewing our minds. We don’t renew our minds through conformity. We renew our minds through enlightenment and understanding. No one has had a finger pointed at them, or been criticized by another person, then thought to themselves “Wow! I feel inspired to be a better person now!”
No… not unless that person is insane.
Allow me to be uncomfortably vulnerable for a moment:
Personally, I didn’t become healthy because people criticized me or told me I was wrong and needed to change. If that were the case, I would be the healthiest person to ever exist. I became healthy because someone came along and accepted me as I was, then reminded me of who I am (also, thank you forever, Kacie. And… my Mas Verde ladies… you know who you are 😉 ).
While I don’t yet have a complete handle on what it means to completely renew my mind in a way that allows me to completely discern God’s will, I do know one thing for certain:
We are transformed through love. Others are transformed through our love for them.
Love empowers us to break the pattern of this world.