How I’m Fighting Mindless Eating & Distractedness

How I'm Fighting Mindless Eating & Distractedness // jessconnell.com

It’s gone on long enough.

MINDLESS EATING

Somewhere along the way of adult womanhood, I got the sense that I deserved treats just for making it to the end of the day. Or, even to 3pm.

Pistachio gelato, a bowl of cheerios, a handful of dried-out-after-dinner plain pasta, a few slices of smoked gouda with Ritz… the snack didn’t matter so much, but the basic idea has been that I deserve something tasty whenever I please.

And so I go get it.

Just because I want it.

The 10-o-clock magnetic pull of the fridge, and the grazing of snacks as I walk past, mid-afternoon, has been mindless.

I’ve never been obese, nor have I had an eating disorder. Though perhaps not extreme, this is an undoubtedly unhealthy habit. It adds weight to my frame, and robs me of self-control. Additionally, it keeps me from truly enjoying the occasional treat, because every day brings some measure of self-indulgence in my eating.

It’s like what happens when every kid gets a trophy… Treats stop feeling special when you get them whenever you want. 

DISTRACTEDNESS

In the early days, it was Solitaire. Sudoku took the distraction-addiction to paper. For a while, it was Scrabble. Three months ago, I deleted my SpadesPlus account. Since then, I got(humiliatingly) pulled by Tetris, an old favorite.

The thing is– there’s nothing inherently sinful about playing games. In fact, in the pre-smartphone postpartum nights when I was up nursing and the choices were: nurse the baby while playing Scrabble… or, wake up 4 hours later still sitting up with the baby in the crook of my arm and a terrible crick in my neck, well, Scrabble was a clear, hands-down win.

But for me, it never stops there. Once the early-days-of-the-postpartum-haze would fade, my Scrabble… or Spades… or Tetris… addiction always lived on. And the smartphone apps beg for attention, by habit of tapping on that icon.

HOW I’M FIGHTING

So I’ve realized, I need some personal “Resolved”s, like that formidable forerunner in the faith, Jonathan Edwards. (Here’s his full list of 70, in slightly modernized English.) (And yes, I know the proper term is “resolutions” but for me, that brings New Year abandoned resolutions to mind, and he is a person who seemed to actually live by his resolutions. So it helps me make them distinct by using the grammatically incorrect but more-accurately-descriptive term, “resolveds.”)

I won’t share the whole list… but here are a select few of mine (#6 & #36 both address the issue of mindless eating; #4, 5, & 36– my game playing).

JESS CONNELL’S RESOLVEDS

#4- Resolved: To “make the best use of the time.” To remember that God can be glorified in the mundane repetitive tasks as well as the spectacular once-in-a-lifetime events, so long as all is done “as unto the Lord.”

#5- Resolved: To play games and eat celebratory foods/drinks only in community, never in isolation– treating these as occasional, purposeful treats rather than regular, thoughtlessly-consumed rights or treats I’ve earned through a flawed notion of “being good.”

#10- Resolved: To dwell on my own sin and need for Christ, never someone else’s. When I hear of the sins and downfalls of others, I will use the knowledge of their failings to promote nothing but humility – even shame – in myself. I will use awareness of their sinfulness and weakness only as an springboard to confess my own sins and neediness to God.

#11- Resolved: To think through my choices all the way to their likely end (“ponder the path of my feet”), even when the thinking of those possibilities is unpleasant, as a means of choosing wisdom and life over short-term pleasure, possible physical death, and ultimate soul-death.

#16- Resolved: To smilingly serve, offer intimate affection and kind friendship, and counsel and encourage Doug with such exuberance and dependability that I can (from my current perspective) anticipate will stave off regret when I’ve come to the end of (one or both of) our lives.

#17- Resolved: To affectionately love, diligently train, and discerningly guide each of our children with ferocity and tenacity, and to actively confess and repent of any and all sins against them as quickly as can be (to them as well as to God), so that I will not have unconfessed sorrow or unspoken regret in my mothering of them.

#18- Resolved: To keep my children near enough, and well-supervised enough, that at the time when they are all adults, I will not be horrified at a revelation of some sin against them that happened which I might have prevented with greater diligence and oversight.

#19- Resolved: To hold my children with a continual mindset that they are His first– that He has made them and knows what He has made them for. To pray fervently and regularly that the ends for which He has made them is His glory and not His wrath. (Romans 9)

#25- Resolved: To fight sinful anger to the same degree that I would fight against having an orgy. (Galatians 5:19-21)

#33- Resolved: Never allow angst, arrogance, and bitterness toward my father or mother. Never to set my hopes on them, but on Christ at work in them. To seek to bless and honor. Let me be careful about this, not only about my parents, but also with respect to any of our family.

#36- Resolved:  I will not give way to that apathy and aimless distractedness which artificially eases and relaxes my mind. Whatever my distractedness inclines me to neglect doing, I will realize that it would actually be best for me to do these things, and get up and do them as soon as I am able.

While I did use some of his resolutions as jumping off places for my own (and even adopted a few of them, word for word), here are some of Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions that I wish I had the guts to write in my own list, but cannot (yet) because I am honest to a fault and I know I do not (yet) possess the will to carry them out:

21. Resolved: Never to do anything, which if I saw another do, I would consider a just reason to despise him for, or to think in any way lesser of him.

30. Resolved: To strive to my utmost every week to be brought to a higher spiritual place, and to a greater experience of grace, than I was the week before.

32. Resolved: To be strictly and firmly faithful to whatever God entrusts to me.  My hope is that the saying in Proverbs 20.6,  “A faithful man who can find?” may not be found to be even partly true of me.

35. Resolved: Whenever I so much as question whether I have done my duty in any area of life, to a point that my peace and tranquility is disturbed, I will stop and question myself until my concern is resolved.

37. Resolved: To inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating, drinking, and activity.

38. Resolved: Never to speak anything that is ridiculous, trivial, or otherwise inappropriate on the Lord’s Day or Sabbath evening.

58. Resolved: Not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversations, but also to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and graciousness.

60. Resolved: Whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of sorts, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within my own heart and/or soul, or the least irregularity in my behavior, I will immediately subject myself to the strictest examination. (i.e. Psalm 42.11)

It’s funny, because I think most people would read his list of resolutions and think he was a pious do-gooder who never struggled with sin. But the more I think about Jonathan Edwards, and meditate on his will to do this– to take time to write out, and edit, and then re-read and strive to live by, 70 life resolutions– I think he must have struggled. The fact that we see all these things listed out so very plainly means he was a vast deal more acquainted with his own sinful nature than the common man.

Maybe it wasn’t because he thought he was perfect that he made such a list– no, quite the opposite. He knew his own weakness. 

And, if he’s like me, he knew that the way to fight sin is through ferocity towards one’s own sin, rather than a loosey-goosey approach. 

So far, I’m not saying I’m living them out perfectly, but I will tell you this: having some very clear lines in the sand for myself is proving VERY beneficial when it comes time for the 10pm I-want-to-have-a-small-bowl-of-pistachio-gelato. I haven’t played Tetris in weeks, but I have played games with my kids. And the wording I chose forces me to put sinful anger in the category where it belongs, rather than in an “acceptable” variety of sin.

Having the line in the sand drawn helped me this last week when my parents were in town. Old habits — mental, verbal, behavioral– are still there, but there was a new resolve that kicked in because I’ve called myself to the mat to fight sin in my thinking, attitudes, and words. It was a good week with my parents, and I’m doing well with my snacks and game playing.

Maybe things are going well because I’ve pre-decided what choices I’m going to make. For me, it’s making a difference.

What about you? IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE:

  • HAVE YOU EVER WRITTEN YOUR OWN “RESOLVEDS?” 
  • HOW DO YOU FIGHT A LACK OF DISCIPLINE IN YOUR LIFE?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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4 Responses

  1. Kondwani Kondwani says:

    I love that list of Jonathan Edwards. Wow. Quite impressive, to take that amount of time and effort to really consider all possible roots and outworkings of any godlessness in his life. I need to take more time to reflect on some of these things in my own life!

  2. Amanda Sundby-Banry says:

    I read this as a link from your “How I’m growing in self discipline” post. I see why you are growing! These are great. Thank you.

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