Posted by: cmittermeier | July 23, 2015

Just seven days

We all know the concepts behind the phrase, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, but I’m rather dense and need refreshers all the time on even basic stuff like this, so I’m going to remind myself. 

I tend to live a bit too much in the moment.  Like many with ADHD, I need external schedules, clearly displayed goals, and creative reminders or else I will get lost staring off into space wasting time.  Give me a block of “free time” and I will not have a clue what to do with it.  I will not remember how much I wanted to do X, Y, or Z just the day before, how I lamented not having time to get it done… nope, I am mainly lost.  This is why the concept of reaching a goal by just focusing on the step you need to take right now tends to backfire for me.  I can forget I was supposed to be on a journey in the seconds it takes to snap a selfie.

When I came back from our vacation, I knew I was in for a rough few days but I was surprised by how hard it was to shut down my gluttony and sloth.  It didn’t help that we celebrated my birthday and we had a lot of sweets and treats around.  When I did finally shut it down I needed a bigger hammer than just a single step.  I needed to do a seven day push.  Anything shorter and the temptation would just linger, and pounce the next time I was due to eat.

Seven days is a short enough period for my “priority attack brain cells” to not get worn out, but long enough to get me back on the wagon.  Other pushes can be of different lengths, for example, if it is a change to the daily routine I have to aim for a month.  That requires a different effort mentally, certainly not the same as a temptation overload.

Now, for me seven days is my sweet spot for this situation, but I wanted to go over some of the basics around battling temptation, so you can start to be aware of what  your  “Just x days” will be.  From the temptation of Jesus in the desert, we know that if you are in the moment of temptation it is because the enemy has decided it is an opportune time.  (I am presuming that this is a temptation you have battled before, ergo, when he left last time he did so until ‘an opportune time’) There is something about this moment that has given the enemy reason to beleive you will be more easily tempted… figure out what that is and what it will take to shore up that gap in the wall.  For me, it was birthday food and the desire to be self-indulgent, I had to get rid of it in a way that would not add fuel to the fire. This was not the time to dump it in the organic bin, it was the time to share it out so my piece was smaller and set a firm limit on what was needed to feel indulgent.   

The next thing you need to do is be firm in your resistance, and here is where the calculation of days comes in.  Only you know how the battle has gone in the past.  If you know that you can last for three days and then, bam!, you know you will be raiding the local five and dime for chips at two am, you need to aim longer than three days. Mentally overshoot the known danger zone, and use that time to reinforce the walls so that when they try to come back the walls will be too thick to break through.

For the next seven days, I need to be vigilant, preparing for the upcoming ‘opportune time’.  To do so, I am walking every day, I am filling the freezer with my meals (tonight I made my yummy curried lentils), and eating lots of fresh produce.  I am returning to our daily prayers, and back to reading Laudado Si.  I am also working on cleaning up the house a bit, a clean space physically has an impact on our spiritual battle readiness. 

This is my “Just Seven Days”, some of it you can plan before it is needed, but not everything.  Allowing for that flexibility, sit down and ponder what you will need to power back at the next temptation.  This time I do not need all my biggest prayers, but I do have at the ready a stack for various temptations I have faced in the past.  What prayer cards do you keep in your emergency kit?  Look back, learn, and thank God for the grace of wisdom for each prayer you add to that emergency bag.

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