Have your cake, eat it too, kinda

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So, I’m doing well with Weight Watchers, losing weight slowly but steadily. As I’ve said before, this program works because it’s based on freedom. Although not all foods are nutritionally beneficial, no food is forbidden or illegal.
Then the folks at Weight Watchers go and introduce even more freedom and grace to the program: “Flex Points.” Briefly, every food has a point value. Broccoli has zero points, a Big Mac and large order of fries has 26. My daily alloted total is only 20 points. Flex Points allows 35 “extra” points weekly to use or lose.
As for me, I am tempted by cake. With Weight Watchers, I’m free to eat cake.
The problem with freedom is, what we think will make us free generally doesn’t. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should.
During the first week of Flex Points, I made a trip to Wal-Mart. And although I told myself not to even go, I wound up there anyway, smack in front of the cake display. That’s when I notice small 12-ounce cakes, which I calculated to be only 28 points for the entire thing. I reasoned that I could take it home, cut it in half, freeze half and nibble on the remainder throughout the whole week, thus only using 14 points. (even though I had 35 to use freely, that much freedom is scary.)
Still, I felt guilty. So, I looked around to see if anyone I knew was nearby, picked up one of those cakes, then said loudly to no one, “This’ll be perfect for Bob’s birthday!” Next, I went to the produce section and piled a bag of lettuce on top of the cake in my basket and used the self-checkout lane to buy it.
Once home, I cut the cake, put half in the freezer as planned and then grabbed a fork. An hour later, both halves were safely inside my digestive tract. And even though I ate an entire cake in one afternoon, I didn’t go over my total weekly points and registered a weight loss that week.
However, after the last forkful of cake, I felt sick as a dog the rest of the day, which cured me of my cake cravings, at least for awhile.
Some people think being a Christian means there’s a bunch of stuff you can’t do, but that’s not true. There’s more stuff you can do than can’t. Even so, as the apostle Paul warned the ancient church in Corinth (whose motto was “anything goes”), all things are permissible, but not all things are good for you. Not everything is constructive to character or edifying to your spirit. Or, as I used to tell my kids, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Paul reminded another church that there are “some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer ourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits” (Romans 6:16 The Message).
I don’t think Paul was referring to eating cake, but for some people that might apply. Anything can become a trap: money, power, sex, trying to achieve the most-envied lawn in the neighborhood.
But thanks be to God, because of his great love, he has provided a way out of any trap, any pit we find ourselves in, any prison we create for ourselves. That way out is Jesus. “He stills the hunger of those he cherishes,” wrote the psalmist.
Everything may be permissible, but not everything is good for me. But by letting myself be loved by Jesus, by letting him still my hunger, I can say no to that which would harm me—and still be free to eat cake—just not the whole thing.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.