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Indulgence vs. Restraint

I made it down here to my prayer room, God. Sometimes it seems a thing too hard to do. I turned my light out last night at 9:30 and slept through, without waking, till 4:00. That’s an awfully early hour to get up but I had had six and a half hours of sleep, so, when I couldn’t get back to sleep (after reading for a bit), I got up, fixed myself some tea and porridge, grabbed a couple coloured eggs out of the fridge and came down here.

I'm wrestling with my eating. Last week I had a juice and water fast. That is, I consumed only liquids and no milk products for six days. I had absolutely no trouble doing so. When Sunday came, and I could eat again, I over did it. It was as if I couldn’t stop, though obviously I could have if I’d chosen.

So what is it that drives that kind of hunger in me, God? I know that chocolate can keep me awake at night and gives me heart burn if I have more than a little, so I was able to stop after three small Lindt Easter eggs. The mini cream puffs, on the other hand, I kept going to. Yes, I like them a lot, but what is the driving force to have more? Am I afraid I’m going to lose out in some way? Do I feel deprived if I can’t have more?

You showed me yesterday why I prefer to buy “the best.” It’s because it helps me feel valued, worthy, special, important. But my worth doesn’t come from what I eat! It comes from you. If I was secure in my worth and value, I wouldn’t have the need to prop it up with what I eat.

Yet there is also a sense that I deserve to have extra. Or maybe I’m afraid I’ll lose out. Or is it that when I do eat something special like the mini cream puffs, I’m expecting it to fill an empty place inside of me and, when it doesn’t, I eat more thinking, subconsciously, that maybe if I just eat enough, that will do the job. It never does. That place of need stays empty regardless of what I eat or how much.

So now, I’ve decided to fast from added sugar and added fats except on Sundays. But I don’t want to pig out on Sundays to make up for what I haven’t had all week. How can I succeed? What would be a reasonable amount of indulging on Sundays? Three chocolate eggs with breakfast instead of regular tea is one. Allow myself two more treats such as an ice cream cone and a Napolean? Or the Norwegian pancake and grilled cinnamon bun at Stella’s? That’s actually pretty generous.

Freedom from addictions means that we bear the pain of not indulging. We live in that pain until God chooses to relieve us rather than attempting to find our own way out. Am I willing to bear the pain of restraint? Perhaps remembering something I wrote yesterday would help: "There is power in the resurrection for all who submit to it. Sunday is coming!" It is through the pain of Friday that I can experience the joy of Sunday.

Lord, help me to sit in the pain of feeling deprived, to hold out for the greater-joy-than-food that you promise with resurrection.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 3: 10-14 NIV


Mikael said…
"You showed me yesterday why I prefer to buy “the best.” It’s because it helps me feel valued, worthy, special, important."

You are very valued, worthy, special, and important, Mom! You do deserve the best, but not to make you feel valued, but so that you can appreciate the gifts you have.

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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …