I do not mean to minimize anyone’s challenges. But this, for me... is about cookies. We had friends over on the Labor Day weekend and I made fresh, homemade, chocolate chip cookies. These so-called friends dared to leave some behind, and folks, I did not fall off, I dove off the deep end. I know too much sugar gives me headaches and makes me feel cruddy, but I did it anyway. I chose willingly to jump in the deep end of the cookie jar. What is your deep end? Chocolate, ice cream, binge watching Netflix, or something more serious? Mine could just as easily be kettle chips, procrastination, or negative thought patterns. How do you climb out of the deep end? I am offering four steps. Use one, use all, in order, out of order, but climb out. Don’t stay there! Take the first step. Cease and desist! This is a legal term expressing an enforceable order. You have authority over your own life so just stop eating the cookies! Tell yourself that enough is enough. Sometimes that works but often it does not. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
If “just stop” is not working for you then move onto Step 2. Removal. I have no background in law, but I do know that this is another legal term that refers to moving a case from one court to another. Hold court in your own life and remove allll the cookies from the house. Find a neighbor to give them to. If you cannot find someone to take them, then go out to the garbage can and dump them out. Remove them from your reach. Many of us were raised with our parents “encouraging” us not to waste food by saying, “Don’t you know there are children in *insert country of choice* that wish they had your food!” We should not be wasteful, but no wonder we have this desire to eat every little bite of food, we do not waste anything when poor people are starving out there. It has kind of been ingrained in us. That was about the cookies. What about procrastination, negative thought patterns, or the heart-wrenching stuff you are battling though? Those things are not as easy to remove as the cookies. For those, you might need to determine what is causing them. If fear or distractions cause procrastination, remove the fear by embracing God’s word. Remove distractions by scheduling yourself to go after the very thing you keep putting off. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) If negative thought patterns or dangerous habits are the issue, remove them by displacement. For every destructive thought, find two constructive thoughts to meditate on. The verse below has rescued me more times than I can count… “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV) If the first two steps do not work, or reinforcement is needed, move on to Step 3. Partnership. We need people on our team who will help us remove the cookies, the distractions, and the negative patterns from our world. We need people who will speak the truth in love. We do not need people who point out our short fallings. We already know those! We need people who will help point us or even help move us in the right direction. Be determined that you will not battle alone. I ask my husband to be on my team. I ask him not to buy me potato chips, cookies, or doughnuts. I will have some as a snack when I am out, but I do not want them at home. I will make cookies but only cook a few at a time while freezing the rest. I ask my husband to speak honestly to me when negative thoughts or words begin to invade.
Cookies make the story light-hearted, but the cookies can just as easily represent the hard things. In whatever you are going through, look for partners you can trust. Tell them the truth about your struggles and what they can do to help. Add divine assistance to earthly partners by learning of and leaning on the Holy Spirit. “…The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26 (ESV) Whether any of this works for you or not, Step Four is a game changer. Testimony. You need to hear from people who have overcome - they have made it out of the cookie jar. Out of depression. Out of procrastination. Out of persistent negative thought patterns. Be careful about listening to people tell you how bad it was for them in the deep end unless they are willing to tell you how they came out. It is okay to listen to those who tell you about their daily struggles if they also tell you about how determined they are to walk in faith and belief throughout the process. If we are going to commiserate, then we can go ahead and have a good laugh or cry, but then testify to one another of our hope and faith as we climb higher together. “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:10-11 (ESV)
Eating cookies may seem like a trivial example but it serves as a powerful analogy for things that try to trip us up and derail us. Stop them, remove them, get partners, and listen to overcomers. You can do it. You can overcome through a faith in Jesus Christ. Read His words and be encouraged.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV)