I am intimately acquainted with the indulge-expand-oh,no!-cut back cycle. Over the years, I have learned that the third day of "cutting back" is the hardest.
Day 1, I am super-motivated. I imagine how trim I'll look and how much energy I'll have when I achieve my weight-loss goals, and I tell myself I'll go shopping for cute new clothes.
On Day 1, I am also not very hungry. Saying "No" to those brownies and cookies is really not that difficult (especially when I'm thinking about how awesome I'll look in a month).
Day 2, I am still motivated, but my fuel tank starts to feel a little empty. I enjoy a big, beautiful salad and grilled chicken for lunch, but then I immediately wonder if there are any chocolate chips hiding on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet. I catch myself. "No, no, no...not going there!"
Day 3, I am ready to eat bark off a tree, as long as it's battered, deep-fried, and smothered in gravy. When I munch an apple for "dessert" (ha!), images of hot-fudge sundaes dance through my head.
Day 4, forget those images of the future thin me: I'm all about thick me today!
Here's the thing...
I can set admirable goals - lose 10 pounds. I can have lofty ambitions - write 1000 words on my manuscript today. I can intend to do wonderful things - love my neighbor. But if I lack perseverance, none of those amazing things are going to happen.
You know what? I don't have much perseverance. My perseverance reserves run completely out in about four days. Or less, depending on what I'm persevering - or not persevering - toward.
In the Bible, perseverance is called a fruit of the Spirit. Perseverance is a God thing. Perseverance is not the same as will power, which I can conjure up on my own. Will power is my resolving, "I will do this, by golly!" Perseverance is me actually doing it. One is inside my head. The other works its way out through my hands and feet and words and actions.
If I don't have perseverance, and if God is the source of perseverance, then, obviously, I need to be petitioning my Father for this gift: "Father, I need perseverance! Please, give me some! Help me persevere!" I need to be knocking on his door, day in and day out, pleading for this Holy Ghost gift.
I need to persevere in asking for perseverance. Sounds like a Catch 22, doesn't it? Except that, when I ask for perseverance, God always gives me exactly the amount I need.
Maybe it won't be enough to turn down that brownie or to type out that 1000 words, but it will be enough to draw me back to Himself so that, in my need, I can pray once again, "Father, I need more perseverance! Help me persevere!"