White Knuckling: I Need Control

Welcome! Let’s take a few minutes to chat about self-control.

Now you might be the type of person that has mastered this area and hardly ever finds yourself in a tough situation where you are “white knuckling” to reach a specific goal you have set. If that’s you, please share your secret with the rest of us who are barely holding on!

I really suspect, however, that self-control is an issue we are all struggling with on occasion in one or more areas of our life. For most of us, that is the true reality of our day-to-day lives.

If you would, please indulge me as I ponder my thoughts on the topic of self-control.

Admittedly, I am a type A personality and have always been driven to get things done ahead of time and to perfection. To meet those two worthy goals, I must have a well-planned course of action that advances the plan towards the end game. And it is fantastic to proceed this way until life starts throwing you curve balls or temptations cross your path.

Earlier this week in the TLM Sisterhood Facebook group, I asked group members to think of some areas in their lives that they are struggling with self-control. And I will ask you the same thing. Is the struggle related to finances, relationships, your temper, or some specific goals you need to set or to complete?

One of my biggies is nutrition and exercise! I am admitting here in this public blog that I am a food addict. I am addicted to sugar, flour, chocolate, and various other staples when blended and baked into decadent confections. For me, this is a big area in my life where I must employ self-control because eating dessert does not really align with my goals. Having a healthy body, fitting into my skinny jeans, and most importantly being able to actively contribute to my family and community are my real goals.

Aside from the vanity issue of my skinny jeans, which are so cute, there is also the fact that heart disease, cancer, and diabetes run in my family history. So, it’s imperative that I exercise self-control in my nutritional decisions. Plus, as a Christian, I feel an obligation to take care of the physical body God created for me to use while here on Earth.

With so much on the line, choosing correctly should be an easy choice, right? Of course, it is not!

Every Monday morning when I stand on the scale and see it tip past where it should stop, I stand there resolute that I am making a change. Decisively, I walk out of the bathroom confident as I start my day. “I am done making bad choices,” I tell myself.

Self- control is easy peasy until the afternoon when that first wave of cravings come. Then I have a choice to make. In that moment, I can give up and make up an excuse that I hope my mind will believe (sometimes, I do try this) and grab the chips or cookie. The result –my self-control flies out the window and my plan is completely derailed. Or I can use “self- only” control and white knuckle through the craving until the next wave comes, and that works for a while until a big enough wave comes that breaks the hold I have on myself. After all, one can only white knuckle it for so long, right? Eventually, you are going to lose your grip.

I have personally found that self-control is futile if it only employs complete self-reliance. I need a partner that can talk me out of my own wants sometimes. I believe that in order for me to truly achieve my biggest goals, I must be willing to submit to God’s authority.

I have found that I am most effective in controlling my choices when I seek the Lord first. Matthew 6:33 states:

But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. NIV

Now, if you look at the scripture right above this, you will read that Christ tells us not to worry about clothes, food, or drink, which seems in direct conflict with my issues regarding nutrition. But He is not telling me to be reckless and do whatever my flesh wants. He is telling me He will be there; He will provide, and He will help me to navigate the guardrails in my life that keep me on the best route for becoming a fulfilled woman of God.

I have a mission to accomplish.

Now, God isn’t going to send a magic pill. He is not going to put me into a coma while He whittles my waistline down. (He could, and admittedly I have begged Him to do just that.) Though He is going to allow temptations to come to me, He is also going to remind me through the nudging of the Holy Spirit that the brownie I have in my hand is not really a part of the path to my goal. It is in fact a distraction to keep me from arriving at my best. In those moments, God wants me to turn to Him instead of the brownie.

I truly believe self-control is not about denying yourself things. I believe it is more about focusing on your real goals. Self-control becomes a struggle when we allow outside influences to distract us or cause upheaval in our vision of the endgame. So, back to the brownie, is that really my focus or is it my flesh trying to distract me, to keep me stuck as I try to reach my best? I think we both know the answer.

You see, the enemy does not look like a monster. Otherwise, it would be easy to avoid him. I propose, sometimes the enemy that is seeking to destroy me looks like a brownie.

There is an old song entitled, “Somebody’s Knocking” by Terri Gibbs. It is a satirical song about temptation that describes the Devil as a good-looking guy with blue eyes and blue jeans. Girls do not be deceived by the enemy who can walk into your life looking great in denim or in my case as a sweet treat on a dessert platter. Remember your goals!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV

You see, self-control is a gift from the Holy Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-24 NIV

If we are following Jesus, then we are living by the Spirit and should be focused on becoming more Christ-like with each decision we make. We must take steps to not be misled and lose our self-control.

Perhaps, you struggle with self-control in other areas of your life, such as other health goals, relationship goals, or financial goals. In any of these areas, there always seems to be something that offers immediate gratification. Something that looks better and shinier than what you presently have. I would suggest you pause before grasping it and letting go of your original goal.

I heard something the other day on a podcast that really resonated with me. I wish I could remember exactly who said it, but here is the jest of what they said:

Whenever you are tempted, take a pause! The life you want, the success you desire, is found inside the pause.

Friends pause before losing self-control. Pray to God to strengthen your resolve. Remember, your goals and mine are bigger than a pair of tight blue jeans or a brownie!

Written by Rhonda Carlsen

All scriptures were taken from the NIV and ESV.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.



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