There is a force set against mankind. It is an insidious evil that will stop at nothing to cause you and me to fail in any pursuit of any value.
I’ve always believed in the devil and his legion of demons who are out to tempt me with the eventual goal of stealing, killing and destroying. I still believe he’s out there. There was even a time when I felt I met him. But that’s a different story.
What I’ve come to understand is that I am many times my own worst enemy. Any time I attempt to start a new project or new health regimen I meet what Steven Pressfield in Do The Work defines as resistance.
He maintains that there are forces arrayed against us in the pursuit of any admirable challenge. Some of these include: fear, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, timidity, ego and narcissism, self-loathing and perfectionism. Another is rational thought. Still another is that force of evil we have come to know as Satan. He is the master of resistance but most of the time his closest allies are us.
Many activities elicit resistance. He lists at least 11, among these are “any diet or health regimen, any program of spiritual advancement and the undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.”
He goes on to further define the resistance occurs when we try to undertake “any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower.”
No wonder we can’t lose weight. The resistance is too strong. No wonder we can’t read our Bible, go to church, engage in a small group Bible study, reach out to another person. The resistance is too strong.
The interesting thing to me is that a lot of this resistance comes from within ourselves. For years I prayed for God to help me lose weight. I really wanted to lose weight. I mean, really, who wants to be morbidly obese? Everything I would try would work for the first few months. I’d lose some weight and then I’d go back to eating like I did before and I’d gain it all back plus more.
I blamed the awesome cooks in my family. I blamed low metabolism. I blamed poor knees so that I couldn’t exercise. I blamed just wanting to eat all the time. I blamed everything but myself. In actuality if you look back up at the list of things resistance stems from, they all come from inside. It is my fault.
If it is my fault, then I need to do something about it. This is the basic premise of Pressfield’s book. He actually says this resistance, this talking yourself out of something you know is really beneficial, can be a type of compass showing us that we are on the right track. He says it this way: “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
Then we can know if there is resistance this is something important that I need to press through and overcome with God’s help. Now I have a goal. Overcome resistance. Not by sheer force of will but with a plan of action that includes doing something everyday towards that end.
Is becoming healthy important? Only if I plan on doing something when I am healthy. Then that thing that I want to do becomes my guiding star. For instance, I begin to realize it is more important for me to be healthy to encourage others to discern truth and administer grace in a powerful way than for me to eat a piece of homemade bread (my major downfall in any weight loss program).
The other enemy within is rational thought. Recently I employed rational thought when I decided I should cut the loaf of homemade bread and eat a piece. A friend had brought it for lunch and I rationalized it would be rude not to eat a piece. She might feel slighted. So I ate a piece and then another resulting in almost 400 calories I did not need. This is one-third of the 1200 calorie diet necessary for me to lose weight.
I’ve always thought I should follow that inner voice that speaks . I’m learning when it is contrary to the accomplishment of a greater goal, it is not God. It is my own selfish rationalization.
The answer. “Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act,” says Pressfield.
The best time to start, he says, is before you are ready. “The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to.”
It’s time to start, then, whatever the major goal. I can’t wait until I have figured it all out, I just have to start.
I chose my goals. I started working towards them every day. Many days my rational mind tries to talk me out of it. Most days I don’t listen. I know what I need to do and I do it.
I believe God rewards action. If we do nothing, resistance or evil or Satan wins. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have to work very hard to accomplish it. All he has to do is encourage good men and women to do nothing.