For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. -Romans 7:15
I am pondering Romans 7:15 in terms of good health and fitness today, with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy on the nature of sin and morality. I have long pondered why we bring so much misery upon our own selves, why we don’t choose what is right, beneficial, sure to be less painful in the long run.
Things like drinking whiskey, partying it up, hopping from relationship to relationship, these things are a whole lot more fun than ….eating some kale and going for a run. Or so it seems on the surface anyhow.
I’m blessed in the sense that I don’t have a thorn of addiction poking at me, not towards alcohol anyway, but I watched a lot of friends crash and burn, a bit baffled by their insistence on the joys and fun to be found in praying to the porcelain god and passing out in the woods half-naked. I kid you not, bragging about just how much misery you have bravely endured from your own excessive drinking is a favorite past time around here.
I’m a bit of a pansy, as in my goal is to avoid even the misery of a slight headache. I’ve done a hang over a few times and it seemed like as simple matter of, “Oh, and so this is why we should not drink to excess.” Oddly however, I empathize with the nature of addictive behaviors, with the power and truth behind Paul’s words.
“For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” That hits me the hardest when I am eating healthy, or engaging in regular exercise. For me, I must cut out sugar, simple carbs, white flour, or else it plunges my blood sugar, drains my energy, makes me crash. Protein and vegetables however, are like fuel, they make me feel good. And I even enjoy them! If I maintain this eating style for a while, I begin to feel really good and then a few weeks into it, a piece of cake or something and the crash, the hangover, the over all sense of just feeling lousy physically.
So why then do I do it? The joy of a piece of cake is really not any greater than the joy of a chicken leg, for example. I love chickens legs. I’ve done this enough times to see the cause and effect going on here too, so it is not as if something different is going to happen each time I try it. I can even slip in a few cookies now and then if I have had some protein to back it up with. But I don’t do that, I insist on skipping a meal and then plunging myself into a proper sugar crash, sure to cause me discomfort for a few hours.
The same is true of exercise, nothing makes me feel better, more energized than a good long hike, or at the very least, some stretching and exercise indoors. Why than do I always resist? I’ve had some minor injuries, painful but harmless, and knew immediately, yep didn’t stretch this morning.
Both exercising and eating right make me feel good, in mind, body, and spirit, whereas not doing these thing are painful, almost immediately. Still I resist. So much for the theory of rewards and punishments. That might work well on lab rats, but humans? Humans are just plain weird. “For what I am doing, I do not understand…”
I don’t know if you’ve ever watched teen agers play with an electric fence, but it can be downright ridiculous and comical. This thing looks to be extremely painful…..let’s try touching it and see what happens. Now that two of our comrades have fallen and all are strongly advising against it…..let me try!
For those who don’t know, IB has actually played that game twice, so I know of what I speak. It ranks right up there with, I’ll bet you 20 bucks you can’t chew tobacco….
I recognize the nature of sin and immorality, because I recognize it in my own self, that desire to rebel, that urge to resist…even that which is good, profitable, beneficial. So in these discussions with non believers, the idea of universal morality being a simple matter of, “logic and empathy intersecting to create a more civilized world that embraces the common good,” throws me for a loop. I always want to say, BUT people. You have forgotten the nature of people and our relationship with sin!
We are not creatures ruled by logic and reason, we are complex, with a powerful compulsion to allow our behavior to be ruled far more by our own will than anything resembling reason. “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”
One thing I have learned however, if the nature of your own will is what has led you into trouble in the first place, the nature of your own willpower is unlikely to ever set you free.