Friday, September 27, 2013

Practicing Virtues - Temperance (Update)

Almost two months ago, I published a post on temperance, where I committed to practicing that virtue, and also to give an update about my experiences.

You can view the original post here.

So, how has it been?

Good and bad, to be honest.

As I said in my last post, New Year's Resolutions August Update, my body and mind seemed to rebel against resolutions and commitments right after I made them.

In observing myself, however, I have learned a few things.

Right after I started I was mildly temperate, fluctuating between abstinence and indulgence, at least when it came to eating.

I was heavily distraught by the ebb and flow of my behavior, and thought myself, at one point, utterly incapable of any substantial change in this regard.

I continued to observe myself, and I realized that I needed to go deeper into my problems. It's not just about making a commitment, sit back, and observe how the changes come naturally.

It is not as if behavioral change comes naturally, mysteriously fed by the powerful force of commitments.

I forgot something I mentioned earlier in this blog: maturity doesn't come naturally. It comes with a fight.

Every opportunity that present itself in life is an opportunity to fight or fly, to deal with them with the mind of Christ, or with the mind of the world (Philippians 2:5).

I remembered something that I discovered almost a year ago, where I felt I grew faster than before; that is, that growth has to be intentional, and that every task is an opportunity to ask yourself, "How would Christ do this?"

This simple, and even cliched question, forces you to observe your actions and how they mirror the image of Christ or not.

I started to ask this question more frequently, and the changes it has brought to my life are remarkable!

If we truly believe, that we, as sons and daughters of God, have the mentality of Christ, then we can trust in the subtle guidance of the Spirit when we submit ourselves, and our tasks, to Him.

How would Christ deal with my job? Would He take extra minutes when He has a break?

Would He clean halfheartedly this garbage can? Would He shout back insults to the rude customer?

How would Christ deal with this meal choice? Would He stuff himself with unhealthy food to satisfy His stomach?

Would Christ leave His clothes on the floor because it is more convenient to do so?

These difficult questions, easier ignored, has helped me in making small changes in my behavior. I feel more temperate than before. I feel more in control of the choices I make mostly because, well, I'm giving myself the opportunity to make them.

And that is the key to practicing virtues: giving yourself the opportunity to make constant choices in your life, instead of allowing the old behavioral autopilot of our lives.

For if we are faithful with little, we will be faithful with much.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Year's Resolution August Update!

It hasn't been a good month when it comes to my resolutions.

I didn't lose any weight.

My room is a mess.

My blog has been neglected.

Okay, I'm done. Bye.

Actually, let's dig a little bit deeper into this.

Resolution #1: Achieve my ideal weight.

My nutrition sucks, to put it bluntly. I've been less careful with what I eat. It is almost as if I do worse when a resolution is made. It is as if my body rebels against my mental desires to eat healthy and simple.

If you recall, my last post was about eating healthier and simpler. While I did this a couple of times, I haven't been consistent.

Why is this the case? Why am I like this? If I try to not be distracted I am usually more distracted. If I try not to think of food then my mind is occupied by thoughts of food. Maybe it is better not to make resolutions at all.

But I believe the problem is not in the making or not of resolutions. It goes deeper than that. Call it the good ol' Pauline dilemma as expressed in Romans 7 (For what I want to do I do not do...). Call it our fallen nature. I do not know.

It is a place in my being in great need of the healing grace of God.

Resolution #2: Keep my room clean, year long.

Am I ready to call this a resounding failure? Not quite. Let this resolution suffer a long, miserable and agonizing death!

Not to sound too negative but I feel I've been less attentive in my room cleanliness than I have in the past. You would think that making a resolution, along with monthly updates in this blog, would make a positive difference in the overall cleanliness of my room.

It hasn't. Ditto to what I said in resolution #1.

Resolution #3: Update my blog regularly, minimum once a week.

Okay, okay, last month I made an apparent mental Freudian slip, since I erroneously wrote "once a month" instead of once a week.

If my initial resolution was "once a month", then I wouldn't be eating this hearty crow.

But in being fair, this is one resolution that has actually impacted positively my behavior. I have updated my blog rather consistently, despite my occasional slips into the mud of inconsistency.

That is it for this month. I will see you next month!