STRESS!!!! (Reflections on Diabetes Burnout Ch 16 and Made to Crave Ch 15)

Oh, lots of truth in today’s readings!

I’ll start with Diabetes Burnout.  Chapter 16 talks about the possible correlation between stress management and glucose levels.  I didn’t even need to do the exercises to know that I fall into the category where my glucose levels rise when I am stressed.  How do I know this?  I have LIVED it!  For as long as I can remember, I have been an emotional eater.  This is another reason I am doing the Made To Crave study also.  As I face the trials of life and feel overwhelmed, I escape with a lengthy series of novels (last time it was Karen Kingsbury’s 2-series sets about the Baxter Family (15 books total!)) and a bag of pretzels, cookies, ice cream, 24-pack of Diet Coke…you get the picture.  I live in a fantasy world and eat my way through each novel.  I cry, I laugh, I become the characters I read.

So, my default coping mechanism is to escape and ignore, stuffing my face in the process.

I have since learned this is NOT the best set of coping skills to have, and have been building my Toolbox of Coping Skills while I have been in and out of counseling the last 13 years.  I write.  This blog has been AWESOME in helping me get control of my thoughts and process what I am reading, experiencing, and learning.  I talk.  My husband is an amazing listener.  I am a blessed woman.  Thank you, Lord, for preparing my husband for this!  I am on medication (Sertraline, the generic for Zoloft).

There are more tools I would like to add to my toolbox, like walking, swimming, playing tennis or badminton (activities I actually enjoy), and am looking forward to warmer weather so I can put these into practice!

Polonsky recommends the following strategies for overcoming stress (pg 177).  All, some, or none may work for you.  Again, we all have to build our own toolbox of coping skills.

  1. Begin a regular exercise program
  2. Make a friend (or more!)
  3. Take a break every day (Polonsky recommends a form of meditation.  Bible study works for me)
  4. Challenge your automatic way of thinking about stress (For me, Kara, this means not falling into Shut-Down mode…)
  5. Avoid dangerous approaches to stress management (drugs and alcohol).  Yep, tried the alcohol route in my early 20’s.  Not a good idea, people!

Made To Crave‘s chapter 15 (The Demon in the Chips Poster) is about fighting temptations.  Lysa starts with this common excuse:  “If no one sees you then the calories don’t count, right?”  On page 115, she takes it deeper:  “Remember, this isn’t just a battle in the physical and mental realm.  This battle is spiritual as well.  Satan wants us to sneak things in secret.  Things hidden and done in secret clues the father of darkness into our weaknesses and opens the door for him to assault us with targeted schemes.  That’s why Paul wrote, ‘Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes’ (Ephesians 6:10-11)”

Lysa quotes Chip Ingram on page 115 as well, and I have to share this.  It hits home for sure!  In referring to the word “schemes”:  “That means our temptations are not random.  The false perspectives we encounter do not come at us haphazardly.  The lies we hear, the conflicts we have with others, the cravings that consume us when we are at our weakest points–they are all part of a plan to make us casualties in the invisible war.  They are organized, below-the-belt assaults designed to neutralize the very people God has filled with his awesome power.”

Intense, right?  It does not matter what we crave.  It is a temptation from the enemy to draw us away from God.  James 4:6-10 says, But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”  Another passage says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” (Isaiah 55:6)  It takes self-control and the Lord’s strength to keep our eyes focused on Him and to not the things of this world.  Romans 12:1-2 summarizes this:  “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

One other thing that Lysa address in this chapter that is very important for me to remember is the purpose of BOUNDARIES.  Why do we have boundaries?  This is something non-Christians and those who have fallen away from the faith struggle with, I think…just from my perspective…But here’s the point:  boundaries or rules sometimes make us feel “trapped” or “limited.”  When we are confined within boundaries, we can’t have any fun.  Is this a true statement?

I’ve been reflecting on boundaries a lot over the last decade.  I have pushed the boundaries A LOT in my walk with the Lord.  I am going to make a big confession here:  for the longest time I struggled with my self-worth, and thought I had to be physically loved in order to feel loved and accepted.  I was afraid that once I was in a relationship with a man, I wouldn’t be loved unless I did everything he wanted.  Didn’t matter my stance on it.  I was afraid to be alone.  So, I gave into sexual temptation at the young age of 19.   Yes, I waited until I was 19.  This physical act got me so twisted up inside that I began to CRAVE sex.  It became the only way I felt acceptable or loved by someone.  This was all lies from the enemy.  What really happened in my soul is the downward spiral into depression, fear, and even more loneliness than I felt before sex.  I had to break this cycle.  Eventually, the Lord brought me to my knees, and gave me an opportunity to draw near to Him, to be in His presence, and to find grace and redemption in HIS arms.  This began shortly after I started attending First Presbyterian Church.  Here, the Lord spoke to my heart, giving more opportunities to dive into His Word, to confess my sins and struggles, to walk alongside supportive people.  This journey began in September of 2008.  By January, the Lord led me to give up dating for Lent.  Yes, dating.  The time I spent dancing, drinking, talking to men (or doing other things), I spent with the Lord.  He led me through multiple Bible studies during this time period:  He is My Freedom, Seeking Him, and Lady In Waiting.  He really started pulling the weeds from my heart!  After Easter that year, I went on one coffee date, then decided I needed more time.  It was almost 3 years later before I met this great guy online, and he and I got married just over a year later!  God is so good!  He gave me the promise that the next man HE brought into my life would be the man I married.  Now, had I listened to God from the get-go at age 19, I never would have married and divorced by the age of 26.  Live and learn!

The point here is this:  Boundaries are not all bad.  Boundaries actually can keep us safe, protected, loved.  The Lord sets the limitations He does to protect our hearts and souls from the enemy.  All those “laws” in Leviticus:  yeah, it keeps food clean and unspoiled, keeps mold off the walls, keeps the home and heart pure.  The enemy likes to convince us that “boundaries” means “jail” and “restriction.”  These are lies!

The enemy goes beyond food cravings though (yes, even Eve had her own battles with food, thus the fall of man in the Garden of Eden).  We can crave more than food.  What are YOU craving?  What does that craving say about your walk with the Lord?  I fight my cravings:  food (sweets, definitely NOT good for the diabetic), crime shows, sleep…And my walk with the Lord has its ups and downs.  I am far from perfect.  And the Lord continues to work on my heart.  Lord, my flesh is weak, but my spirit is willing!  Let Your Spirit fill my heart, mind, and soul!

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