hat is it about the holidays that turn normally healthy people into sugar-stuffing fools? I guess it’s probably something different for everyone. I, for one, blame my job for my incredibly unbalanced Yuletide diet.
I work in the marketing department of a large hospital. Our team is tasked with a number of duties, including signing sponsorship deals, creating and promoting the hospital’s brand, and advertising on a plethora of media outlets. All of which require money, which is quite appreciated by local nonprofits, vendors, and TV stations.
So how do they express their heartfelt appreciation? They shower us with chocolates, cookies, toffee, and pastries during the holiday season.
It wouldn’t be (totally) fair to blame my yearly downward spiral on outside influences; no one force-fed me the Christmas goodies. But try walking into the break room at your office and seeing every inch of the table covered with delectable sweets. It’s nearly impossible to choose between them, so I usually abide by the potluck rule: try one of everything.
As if matters couldn’t get worse, this time of year also tends to be pretty hectic. With parties, shopping, and family gatherings, where does the normal gym routine and jog fit? It gets—no pun intended—squeezed out.
Maybe you don’t work in a place that turns into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory during December, but perhaps you can relate to my plight. While it’s all fun and games at the time, the reality that hits on January 2 is simple addition: sugar-saturated diet + little or no exercise = pants that fit like compression garments (cue the New Year’s resolution).
Certainly, gaining a few pounds over the holidays shouldn’t come as a big surprise. If we fill our bodies with junk food, our pants size will reflect it. It’s a natural, undeniable fact. And it applies to more than just our waistline.
One of my favorite songs growing up was Phillips, Craig, and Dean’s “Crucified With Christ.” Something about that song just rings with power. As a teenager I wasn’t totally sure what it meant, but boy, it sure sounded good.
As a young adult the idea of being crucified with Christ, or dying to myself daily, has become a mantra for my spiritual journey. I memorized Galatians 2:20 and almost always include the theme in my morning prayers. And yes, I still listen to the classic Christian song on a regular basis.
But there’s something I’m almost scared to admit. For all the years I’ve repeated the verse and understood its theoretical meaning, I’ve never grasped it quite enough to infuse it into my daily life. What does it mean outside of my morning devotions? Does it actually affect the choices I make throughout my day?
Recently while studying Galatians 5, I came across verse 24, another of the apostle Paul’s iterations on the topic: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
I looked up “crucify” in the dictionary, and one of the definitions really caught my attention. Aside from the traditional meaning of executing somebody on a cross, crucify can also mean to “severely discipline your body.”
That’s not so unlike the kind of discipline it takes to lay off that fourth Christmas cookie.
If I want to “belong to Christ Jesus,” I’d better stop filling my mind with the junk that satisfies the “passion and desires” of my flesh. That means everything I do is either for my flesh or for Christ. Every conversation, interaction, impulse, and entertainment decision pushes me one way or the other. There’s no middle ground.
I often fill my life with the things of the world and still expect to experience Christ’s death on a daily basis. That’s living in constant conflict, fighting both sides of the battle at once.
The equation is simple: To walk with Christ, we must starve our flesh.
Oh, and I’d recommend laying off those leftover Christmas cookies, too.
Jimmy Phillips (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Bakersfield, California, where he is electronic media coordinator for San Joaquin Community Hospital. Visit his Web site at www.introducingthewhy.com. This article was published February 9, 2012.