Indulging? Love it.
Pampering myself? Yes please.
Cheat days? Can’t get enough of ‘em.
But no matter how I try to convince myself and the rest of the universe otherwise, saying no to the pizza, sweets, and Netflix marathons is not fun and does not bring me immediate joy.
What I need to get through my head is that in order to be successful at many things, sometimes I am just going to have to suck it up and deny myself various forms of pleasure. I know that people in the world today scream the opposite message from the rooftops - but keeping it real, people in today’s world don’t really seem to be very happy to me.
There are the “big” things -
- Not happy in your marriage? Call it quits.
- Not happy being single? Marry the first person who comes along that makes you feel good.
- Want physical pleasure without the commitment? Just hook up with someone for the night.
- Not ready to be a mom or dad? Terminate the pregnancy.
- Feeling lonely or stressed? Go look at some porn.
Then there are “little” things that we are guilty of all of the time -
- Don’t feel like being bothered by needy people? Don’t answer the phone.
- Want some extra cash? Work hours you don’t have to and miss valuable time with your physical and spiritual families.
- Have to have those shoes or that boat that you can’t afford? Charge it and burden yourself with needless debt.
- Someone makes you mad in traffic? Flip them off and swear at them under your breath.
- Always feel the need to be right? Demean, nag, ignore, or insult people who oppose you .
- Want that 4th piece of pizza? Go for it.
But, “God wants me to be happy. He wouldn't want me to be miserable”
Yes, he does want you to be happy. And no. He doesn't want to see us miserable. He came to give us life and to give it to us abundantly (John 10:10). But He does not want us to be happy at the cost of being holy. He would much rather us be miserable in this world if it meant us being eternally happy.
Sometimes I need to rely less on whether or not something makes me feel good momentarily and realize that just like with my physical health, sometimes I need to go through some pain in order to be healthy. We do it all of the time. Immunizations, surgeries, exercise…all of these things bring some level of discomfort in the moment but reap large rewards. The same is true with these more mental/spiritual things. The things that reap the biggest rewards are usually the things that bring us the most discomfort initially.
But we are not called to do that with no help from God himself. He promises to help us and train us in these things. We just need to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14