Recently, Hudsonville ice cream was on sale at Meijer. This is a deal I have a really hard time walking away from because, as all of us Michiganders know, Hudsonville is the best and it rarely is on sale. Well, the deal lasted at least two weeks which meant for at least two weeks, Anthony & I just kept on replenishing our stock.
We prefer different flavors so the fact that they were like two 1/2 gallons for 5 or 6 bucks was incredibly awesome and we spoiled ourselves rotten by each getting our own. It was really working out in our favor and it has been extremely hot outside so it sounded good ALL.THE.TIME. I'm not kidding you. It sounded good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all of the snacks. There were more days than I care to admit where ice cream became the main portion of my meal during that span of time. It was awesome and very "I'm a grown-up so I can do this if I want to". It was deliciously freeing... until the day it wasn't.
Toward the end of the two weeks I had a bowl of ice cream (with a cake cone crumbled on top) every single day and sometimes twice a day. First, I started to feel guilty about it (as I well should have). There was even a day where I literally told Anthony "don't judge me". When I heard the words come out of my mouth I knew exactly what was going on in my spirit. I've been around long enough to know that, most of the time, when we say things like "don't judge me" it's to convince ourselves that what we are doing is acceptable or to deflect accountability by making the other person feel guilty for possibly judging us.
In an effort to deal with my guilt, I decided the ice cream needed to go. My choices were to just throw what was left in the trash or finish it off quickly. I made the foolish choice and had super-sized servings of it for the next two nights until it was gone.
I was sick to my stomach and I deserved it. For the next three days I had painful symptoms of ice cream overload. I felt nauseous, I felt heavy, I had no appetite, and I never wanted ice cream again. I was overcome with guilt which was teetering on the brink of shame.
I went to God in prayer about it because I just felt miserable. This is a weak area for me. I've always struggled with my relationship with food and with body image so I felt like a failure, as I have many times before, that once again I acted out of the impulses of the desires of my flesh as opposed to being wise in spirit. I chose the thing that made me feel good for a moment instead of the thing that produces good for a lifetime and it resulted in a season of misery.
That is what sin is. In Hebrews 11:25, the Bible tells us that sin is pleasurable for a season. Obviously that is true, or this world would be a much better place. Who in their right mind would participate in sin if it wasn't a good time or didn't provide some sense of false freedom?
It's pleasurable, sometimes, to gossip about other people so we can feel better about ourselves. It's pleasurable, sometimes, to get drunk and rely on false confidence when we make decisions. It's pleasurable, sometimes, to say we're a Christian and reap certain benefits of that title without actually putting in the work it takes to be in real relationship with Jesus Christ. It's pleasurable, sometimes, to shirk off our responsibilities so we can do what we want. And, it's pleasurable, sometimes, to eat ice cream for dinner all week.
But momentary pleasure doesn't produce a lifetime of good. It lasts for a season and then it is gone and what we're left with is a season of consequence and regret. You see, we can always pick our sin but we can never pick our consequence.
This is why I detest the saying "No Regrets". For one, it's not true. Anybody who says they have no regrets is lying to themselves. We all have regrets. Just because God can use a poor decision from our past to help shape our future for the better, doesn't mean we don't or shouldn't regret it. The sin I chose was not practicing self-control in an area that I know I struggle with (James 4:17). I ate way too much ice cream and the consequences I experienced were guilt, shame, and feeling physically ill. Can I use this experience going forward to make wiser decisions, be a healthier person, and cultivate goodness? Absolutely! But that doesn't mean I don't regret making a foolish decision in the first place. Our goal in life should never be to learn life's lessons by experimenting with seasons of sin.
The Bible also tells us in James 4:5-8 that God opposes the proud and shows favor to the humble then commands us to resist the enemy, wash our hands, and purify our hearts. And, in Philippians 4:13, Paul tells us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. That means we have the power to resist all temptation because the Living Spirit of Christ our Lord which now dwells in all of us as believers (yes, the exact same Spirit that lives inside of Jesus) gives us the grace to conquer sin.
Don't be too proud to admit that you've made mistakes and you have regret. Instead, lift your weaknesses up in humility to the Creator, wash your hands, and begin the process of purifying your heart through repentance and practicing self-control by the grace of Jesus Christ who gives us the strength to do all things.
***this post was obviously written pre-vegan days!***