Monday, July 5, 2010

The Golden Rule Restated

It seems to me that in dieting, as in every other area of life, it is essential to apply the doctrine of grace. God treats us with grace, and the Bible makes it clear that we are to extend grace to others. Why, then, should we not extend that to ourselves? Unless we are to speak kindly and forgivingly to ourselves when we eat something that isn’t edifying, our efforts at eating better will inevitably end in failure. After all, in this endeavor, we are dealing constantly with our inner child. It’s pointless for people to argue, “Don’t you want to be healthy?” That isn’t the issue; everyone wants to be treated well, even by their own inner parent. If the choice is between harsh criticism and fun, well, the inner child will make a quick decision!

It isn’t about being self-indulgent. Rather, it is a matter of saying, “All right, that wasn’t your finest hour, but let’s start now to do better. I know you can do this.” Anything else just leads to further rebellion.

I don’t think we can separate how we treat ourselves from how we treat other people. The harshest critics I know are unflinching in their disapproval of their own mistakes. I think they tell themselves that it’s all right to come down hard on other people if they also do it to themselves, but I think too that there’s a corollary of the Golden Rule that applies here: “Do unto yourself as you would have your neighbors do unto you.”