Have you noticed that seriously obese people eat like a mouse in public? No dessert at the family gathering. No second helpings. Skip the gravy. It seems so obviously contradictory that it’s sad. Yet, aren’t we all like that in our own way? Don’t we all have a bad habit or two that we’d rather keep private? Unfortunately, hiding our bad habits is the #1 cause of losing our inner peace.
An older woman I once knew very well had this habit. She ate small proportions on festive occasions like Christmas and Thanksgiving. You wondered how she could even be overweight! Her daughter, however, knew better. She knew her mother got up at 3 o’clock in the morning and prepared a full meal, complete with ice cream.
I used to be guilty of this as a smoker. Many drinkers do the same. We sneak off where no one can see us shamefully indulging in our weak, bad, pathetic habit. When we do this, we are silently saying those self-loathing words to us – beating ourselves up or drifting into depression over our lack of self-control.
We can never at peace when our public self is at odds with our private self. We are quite simply double-minded liars. We are denying our truth in a misguided desire to impress others (wow – he’s trying so hard!) or to fool them (she eats so little that she must have a defective thyroid). I’m not saying people don’t have real medical issues. I’m saying that for most of us, our bad habits are just that.
Inside, we are at war. Part of us wants to be accepted exactly as we are, with all the blubber, nicotine-stained fingers, booze-breath and procrastination habits rolled up in one. Part of us wishes we could clean up our act. For some, it means living alone and single their whole life. “Who would want a defective person like me anyway?” they think.
The spiritual journey of inner peace begins with living as if you have nothing to hide. This stage is profoundly liberating! When I was a smoker, I became free of my addiction only after I accepted I might never quit. Furthermore, I accepted that I couldn’t quit on my own strength. This is the very essence of the First Rule of Inner Peace: First get neutral about outcomes and then you will see clearly what to do.
This is why addiction is a path to spiritual healing. We must surrender. Until we do, we remain trapped in a vortex of self-destruction, deluding ourselves that we will change tomorrow (as if tomorrow ever comes). There is only one-time to eat less and quit bad habits – now.
Jesus said, “Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead. Whoever does evil hates the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20) We are imprisoned when we hide our bad habits.
Stop hiding. Pig out. Smoke publicly. Drink the same at parties as you do at home. Others may judge you but on the other hand, you will be free of the shame that binds you. Once you let God’s light shine on your dark habits, he will heal you. And faster than you think. It happened to me with my smoking habit in one month (now 15 years ago) and it can happen to you too.
You can bravely do it. But not on your own strength. In your weakness, he will pick you up and carry you. You can only know by doing it. This is not an academic concept. Contemplating is useless. Action is everything. Freedom awaits on the other side.
Have a peace-filled day,
Jesus said, “Light has come