Spiritual Matter

Dear Missionary,

I have struggled with my weight for most of my life.  I look back and realize the time I was most healthy was when I was active in exercise every day – and most of the day.

I was a nanny on Nantucket Island for 4 years.  I rode my bike every day to the beach over cobblestone roads and then walked on the sand and in the surf.  I would go out for a swim and catch the waves.  I would then ride back home and wrestle with two toddlers for most of the day.  Twice a week I would participate in Jazzercise which is aerobics and weight training  and three times a week I went to a class for step aerobics.  Every morning I would stretch and meditate and pray and then journal before I went to bed each night.  I had a very active lifestyle balanced with spiritual and personal welfare.

I married and had 4 children.  Life became very realistic and I stopped putting my physical and spiritual needs first.  Several times I set out to lose the weight and to gain good study habits again.  This past month I was prompted by a friend and by the spirit to try a diet.  I’ve never tried to actually diet outside of healthy eating.  I am very surprised by what I learned from my experience.

Day one.  I was very strict and stayed to the program.  I experienced headaches, nausea,  and hunger.  I continued throughout the week and lost 5 pounds!  In the past 10 years I have not lost a single pound so I was very impressed!

Week two I lost about 2 pounds every day but I started to cheat.  I figured with the success of week one that I had room to bend the rules.  I gave in to social temptations and ate out with a friend.  I gave in to emotional stress and ate food outside of the program limits. My husband went shopping and brought home all the kids favorite junk food and I was mad!  If I couldn’t have my favorite foods then no one else should be allowed to have them either!   I was beginning to realize some of my bad habits and the way my thought process worked.  I was surprised to see that my emotions really played a huge part of my eating habits.

Week three I continued the diet but I had gained back the pounds I lost from week one.  I stuck to the diet like candy in a childs hand but the damage had already been done.  I was back at square one and would have to start over at my beginning weight.
Week four.  I came across a book I had read a long time ago.   At the time I merely skimmed over the pages and put it on my “already read” pile.  This week I opened it up and started to really soak in what it was saying.    

Spiritual Roots of Human Relations by Stephen R. Covey
Chapter 3 The three temptations: Understanding and Overcoming

“He who indulges his sense in any excesses, renders himself obnoxious to his own reason: and to gratify the brute in him, displeases the man, and sets his two natures at variance.”  Sir Walter Scott

To knowingly take things into the body that are harmful or addicting or that simply put on weight is foolishness…..It becomes obvious that gluttony or ingesting harmful substances doesn’t hurt just the body – it also hurts the spirit.  It becomes a spiritual matter: and to the Lord all things are spiritual, and all of his laws and commandments are spiritual.

“Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself: and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.” (D&C 29: 34-35)

It was important for me to understand that the root of my problem was spiritual.  Our first and most basic stewardship is our body.  We came to earth to gain a body and we are to use our body as a divine instrument to perfect and train the spirit until the spirit has the full control and mastery of the body under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

This is what really stood out to me when I read it.... “If I do not honor the stewardship over my own flesh, how could I possibly honor my stewardship as a husband or wife, or father or mother?”  “We need to conquer the first temptation first and continue working to conquer all unworthy passions, feelings, and emotions until we can realistically and deeply mean it when we consecrate ourselves  to the Church and to God’s divine purposes.”  Stephen Covey

In the garden of Gethsemane the Savior was tempted and overcame the natural man.  He spirit controlled his body, his appetites, emotions and pride – even his position and power.  President McKay taught regarding these three temptations:  “Nearly every temptation that comes to you and me comes in one of three forms.  Classify them and you will find that every given temptation that makes you and me “spotted” ever so little as it may be, comes to us as:

1) a temptation of the appetite:
2) a yielding to the pride and fashion and vanity of those alienated from the things of God:
3) a gratifying of the passion or a desire for the riches of the world or power among men.

I am continuing my diet with a new perspective and as  a missionary I hope you are finding just the right balance in your appetites and passions.  I pray for your continued success in teaching with the spirit and like the Savior overcoming any temptation of the body.  The Savior does know your thoughts and feelings.  He does have compassion for you and will make your weakness into strength.  May your spirit be blessed!

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