January 3. It’s an official day of winding down from a frenzy of frosted treats.
A day of fasting for dieters like me, like Paul. Carol couldn’t handle the pressure.
Even before her husband left for the office, she was toasting cinnamon bagels dripping with honey. “What?” Paul cried, “Toast for you and not for me?”
“Not today. Remember our New Year’s resolution.” Carol usually waited until he headed out on his commute. “We’re going back to our diets. No pudding! No cheesecake! Forget the cookies! I’m hiding your stocking stuffers! We seniors are supposed to eat less and sugar is a big no-no!”
“But can I have part of your bagel?”
“Nope. This is my last farewell to sugary food. It’s still within our 1200 calorie limit.”
“What about mine?”
“You’ve got sweet pickles with your lunch plus cinnamon-flavored toothpicks. See! You still get to enjoy sweets!”
After Paul left, Carol sighed as she checked the freezer. “Hello down there!”
It echoed with emptiness. Gone was spiral-cut ham with raisin and orange sauce, tender turkey with gravy and stuffing. The only thing left were lean and healthy adult meals in boxes the size of city phone books.
This can’t be so bad, Jolene thought. We shouldn’t have withdrawal over this. The cover photo shows meat dripping with gravy. The veggies are shiny with butter.
But it wasn’t so. Close to dinnertime when Jolene actually unboxed the meal, she gasped. Inside was a grid of plastic spacers. In the very center was frozen meat wrapped with a teaspoon of icy gravy the size of a sticky note. The veggies spilled over the meal like frozen confetti. No butter.
Paul smiled at the dinner table. “How nice! Appetizers!”
“No, it’s dinner.” Though Carol served their tiny dinner on small plates decked with a sprig of parsley as big as the meat, they weren’t prepared sizing down this much.
“Look at the bright side, Paul! I didn’t have to cook and there are only two plates to wash!”
But soon after, Paul asked, “What is there to snack on around here?”
She offered, “Carrots? Celery?”
After Paul went to bed, Carol lay awake counting Christmas cookies and marshmallows roasted over an open fire. [The grocers didn’t have chestnuts.] She tiptoed into the kitchen and searched for easing herself into 1200 calories a day.
There it was: a recipe for double chocolate biscotti! She could indulge in one and a half cookies!
New Year’s resolutions have a way of billowing up guilt because they aren’t in small enough steps to be realistic for a year – sometimes not even for a day, as Carol discovered.
Yet God knows our slip-ups. He loves us anyway.
“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” [Psalm 139 2-4]
This is from the beautiful passage of Psalm 139, which focuses on the wonder of God’s creating us and the intricate details of his thoughts and love, such as “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.”
God loves and guides us as his child – and that love isn’t dependent on New Year’s resolutions or 1200 calories a day.
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]