I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:15-20
Growing up I can’t really remember eating mac n cheese. That doesn’t mean we didn’t, I just don’t remember ever having any. Maybe my brother remembers? I do however, remember eating Chef Boy-ar-dee pizza at my grandma’s on Sunday’s. I loved making the dough then putting on my own ingredients – usually just what came in the box – then enjoying the pizza after it came out of the oven. It was the best! Although I am sure I would not like it now. But then… it was the best!
But back to mac n cheese. As far as I can remember my childhood was devoid of mac n cheese. I will tell you I did not feel deprived by any means. In fact, when I grew up, married and had children of my own, I did not fix mac n cheese for them either…that is until one fateful day when my son came home from a sleep over and raved about the food he ate. So, like any mom curious about what her child ate that was so good they were still talking about it the next day, I asked: “What did you eat?” MAC N CHEESE! It was the BEST! (Please if you will, insert an eye roll here.) So again like any mom whose child has found a food they love, I looked up a recipe for this epicurean delight and realized I had all the ingredients on hand so I thought to myself, I will be a “good mom” and surprise my son and make it for dinner. By the way, I was a stay at home mom at this point in my life so I did most if not all of my cooking from scratch. I think you may have an idea of what happens next…
When dinner time rolled around, I set out my lovingly prepared mac n cheese on the table only to be met with: “What’s this stuff?” (sigh) I made the mistake of not realizing that the blue box of Kraft mac n cheese had captured my son’s heart and stomach and it was THE ONLY mac n cheese that would do. So, while mac n cheese was not a part of my childhood…at least not that I remember…that blue box would become a staple in our home.
I think sin is a little like mac n cheese. We can do without it. We really don’t need it. It is not really very good for us. And yet when we taste it (BTW…I prefer homemade over the blue box) we discover we like it and we begin to enjoy it more and more often than we should. Sometimes and for some individuals, addictions begin because we took that first bite. We are tempted by what something looks like, smells like, and we think everyone else is doing it so it can’t be that bad right? When we finally take that first fateful taste…we begin a slippery slide.
I believe part of the issue is that we struggle with self-denial. We begin thinking that we are missing out. We become content with something that we think will give us pleasure, and of course in the beginning it does…but in the long run it only harms our bodies, our minds, our souls. I love how C.S. Lewis put it in his book, The Weight of Glory: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink, and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” Ouch.
Question for us: What are the things we are settling for in our life? What are the things we know we should give up that continue to lure us back? It could be anything. It doesn’t have to be sex, drugs, or __________? You fill in the blank with something that is harmful. It could be something as simple as a bowl of mac n cheese. But the thing is we need to be aware of what we should not be doing so we can do what we should be doing because doing what we should not be doing is keeping us from enjoying the things we should be doing. Good grief! I sound like the Apostle Paul!!!
We are coming up on the season of Lent. It begins with Ash Wednesday on February 26 and ends on Easter Sunday. Maybe this is the perfect time to stop what you know is keeping you from living your best life. Maybe this is the perfect time to begin something new that is affirming and loving. Maybe this is the perfect time to embrace the offer of a holiday by the seashore as you give up those things that are holding you captive. The choice it seems is between bondage to something that is ultimately not good for you and freedom to live your best life. What will you choose?