To be comfortable is at the top of almost every person’s list. Comfortable means to affording physical ease: cozy, snug, warm, pleasant, agreeable or being in a state of physical or mental comfort; contented and undisturbed; at ease.
I want a comfortable home, comfortable chair, comfortable clothes, comfortable meals, comfortable people to live with, comfortable climate, and comfortable shoes.
Once we find what makes us feel comfortable we usually stick with it. Mr. Magorium of the movie, “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”, finds a comfortable pair of shoes he loves and buys enough pairs to last him a lifetime. The movie begins when his last pair of shoes are wearing out.
Good and Bad Ruts
Ruts can be good or bad. They can simplify our lives or they can cause us to stay stuck in difficult situations. Mr. Magorium didn’t have to wonder what shoes he’d wear each day. He used the ones that worked for him. We do the same thing when we find what we think works for us.
On the flip side, ruts can become very uncomfortable and can begin before I comprehend I’m in one. There was a time in my life when I didn’t want to feel any emotion, negative or positive. My emotions could be uncontrollable. I could be laughing and having a great time one minute and then plummeting into despair the next minute. I didn’t like those feelings.
I found what I thought was an easy way to eradicate this problem. It was right there in Grandma’s kitchen. I could eat any of the foods she made and my emotional issues would fade into a food-induced coma. All was right with my world in those few minutes.
As a kid, I didn’t understand everything my Grandma made was full of saturated fats, sugar and flour. The fact they were served with unconditional love only made them more delicious. They were the epitome of the phrase “comfort foods”. They made me feel so comfortable, I wanted to eat them all the time, and I did just that.
When I grew up and began serving food in my own kitchen, I cooked only what I considered to be “comfort food”. I could serve it if it comforted me and the others around my table.
The problem was eating these comfort foods soon made me feel unpleasant physically because of my increasing size. It took a while but eventually, I ballooned up to 430 pounds. I was painfully uncomfortable and officially super morbidly obese, the highest of the categories.
I was eating myself into a bottomless pit, but I couldn’t stop plodding along in the same rut. It was a learned lifestyle born out of a self-centered desire to have comfort at any cost.
I knew how to get out of the rut. I knew how to severely curtail my food intake and lose weight on a diet. Once I lost weight, though, the comfort foods would call my name again. I reasoned I could eat just a little. Just a little, though, threw me back into the same rut. Soon, I was back to the weight I had been plus more.
Probably one of my darkest days was when a cardiac surgeon told me I didn’t need open-heart surgery. I needed to lose at least 100 pounds and keep it off or I would be dead in five years.
When he left my hospital room, I remember feeling naked, transparent, all my sins exposed for the world to see. I simply wanted my supply of comfortable shoes, uh foods, back. I wanted not to have to make new choices. I didn’t want to change my habits.
I wanted to continue doing everything I’d always done, but I wanted the results to be different. I wanted to eat as much as I wanted of the comfort foods I’d grown up with, but I wanted to lose a drastic amount of weight at the same time. This is the definition of insanity.
The kinds of food I ate started out as something that helped make me feel better. Eating them became a looked-forward-to-comfortable rut. However, when the surgeon enlightened me, eating those same foods became a very uncomfortable rut.
Change Is Coming
To change, I had to see the rut for what it was—debilitating, controlling and deadly. I had to define what I wanted and what course of action or actions would take me where I wanted to go.
A knowledgeable approach is a good place to start, but for me to really change, I had to change physically, emotionally and spiritually. I needed God’s full and complete healing. Like the lame man I had to walk, which is a physical change. I needed to leap, which is an emotional change. Finally, and most importantly, I needed to praise God, which is a spiritual change.
“Taking him by the right hand, Peter helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:7-8).
I began to fully see that when I do damage to myself I do damage to the temple or the house of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19-20 NIV). I began to get a full realization of what I had done to my body. Then, the tears of repentance came. (2 Cor. 7:10 TLB)
True repentance always results in a change. To repent means to turn around. It’s really hard to turn around in a rut. What I really needed to do was to first climb out of the deep, dark rut I had made and then turn around. That meant I needed help.
I cried out to God. I admitted my weakness for certain foods. He said, “My grace is enough. It’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness,” (2 Cor. 12:9 MSG). By God’s grace-power I began running towards His sweet freedom.
I eventually lost 250 pounds and I didn’t even care if I had comfortable shoes on or not.
For more on habit change check out podcast episode 115: Comfortable Ruts.