The Bear

The Honeymoon Stage. You know it. You remember. Back in the beginning of your relationship with your husband when everything was easy. Love flowed just from looking at each other. The passion was written on your faces and expressed regularly without effort. Joy overflowed by the mere mention of his name.

The same thing happened when you came to Christ. The realization that He loves you – that He has always loved you was overwhelming. Joy was new every morning. You spoke of Him to everyone you met. You longed to know Him more.

The same thing happened when you started that diet. Those first ten pounds just came flying off. You really didn’t have to do much of anything. It was easy. You start to believe that you are on your way.

Then it happens. The honeymoon ends.

Children come and work gets stressful. Trying to juggle bills and playdates and sports leaves you tired. Passion is now about sleep. The physical part of your relationship dissolves into decisions of whether you should even bother to take your clothes off or just leave them on as you need to get up soon anyway.

You go to church on Sundays and the worship which used to bring you to new heights with the Lord now just seems to bounce off of your forehead. Reading the Word becomes a chore. Knowing that Christ loves you is understood, but the joy is gone.

You hit that plateau in your weight loss. You did the same things you did the last few weeks and now you not only didn’t lose anymore, but you gained back a couple.

Everything suddenly seems so hard.

It is at this moment, like when Jesus was in the wilderness, that the enemy arrives. He smells your feelings of weakness and doubt. He is ready for his assault.

He asks you the questions: if the passion is gone from your marriage, then maybe he was not the right guy? Shouldn’t it be easy? If your husband really loved you, he would know that you are needing him right now. Clearly this was a mistake. It’s time to pull back and start guarding your heart against the hurt that he will bring you.

He continues: Church isn’t doing anything for you anymore. Maybe it really didn’t do anything in the first place. Maybe you just got caught up in the hype. It was just a feeling and nothing of substance. Why don’t you just sleep in today? It will do you so much more good than pushing yourself to go to church, wasting two hours and then being so far behind in the things you need to do.

And finally: Of course you aren’t losing any weight. You are not meant to be healthy. You don’t have it in you to look good and feel good. Isn’t this good enough? You’ve been like this forever. Why change now? Just accept it. You are fat and ugly and nobody loves you.

And there in the background you feel it. That heavy blanket of self-loathing and doubt. Depression. Fear. All of the characteristics of your old man. Right there, pouring in to smother you in darkness. You find it hard to breathe. Your body aches. Nothing is good anymore. The habits of your old man are there too. I should just lay down here and accept my fate. I am alone. In the dark. There is no hope. I will just close my eyes and sleep. Maybe then I won’t have to face it.

Is that the end?

My father used to tell me about a dream he had as a child. Many nights he would dream that he was being chased by a bear. Just as the bear was about to overtake him, he would wake up. Over and over again he spent his nights running from this bear. Finally, one night in his dream, he stopped running. This time he turned around to face the bear. He beat the tar out of it and never had the dream again.

This story taught me that I do have the power to change things. I could spend my life in despair or I can say, “Wait a second devil! Just hold on here. I belong to God. You don’t have any hold on me anymore!” I can push back against the darkness and see the light.

Paul tells us in Hebrews 5:12-14 that we can’t continue living on spiritual milk. We need the meat. We need to mature. We need to search for the Lord with all of our hearts (Jer 29:13) and seek Him like silver and gold (Matt 13:44-46). The most precious gems are not on the surface, they must be mined. It takes a mountain of effort to uncover one precious stone, but once you have found it – how precious it is!

It is after the honeymoon stage that marriage moves into something much more precious. When love goes so much deeper than the surface stuff and can grow roots into each other. When “oneness” really begins to flourish.

It is in the search for the Lord that we begin to understand that love is more than a feeling. We learn His heart for us and that in turn changes our hearts toward others.

It is in the work that is required to lose weight that new healthy habits that can last a lifetime are born.

Everything requires work, persistence and the unwavering belief that what I am working for is worth it. Your marriage is worth it. Your health is worth it. Knowing Christ is worth it.

It is time to face the bear. Time to stand up, roll up your sleeves and say “no more!” When you stop running and hiding, when you look the enemy in the eye, when you realize that you are not alone in your fight as the Lord’s armies are with you, you will see, the bear is not as big and scary as you thought. In fact, it is nothing more than a flea with a big growl.

Remember who you are, and fight!