Groundhog Day is a popular tradition throughout the United States where people anxiously await the arrival of a Pennsylvania groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil. His appearance each February 2nd determines what’s ahead: six more weeks of the same old winter or an early spring. The day inspired a movie released in 1993 called, you guessed it: Groundhog Day. In it, the lead actor, Bill Murray, woke up each morning only to relive the same day—you guessed it again: Groundhog Day. It highlights the painful fact that nothing can change when we do the same thing over again. While exciting and fun at first for Murray, he quickly became frustrated with this drudgery. Murray definitely had the “life feels stuck” feeling in this movie. I know this feeling well myself. Maybe you do, too.
I have a love-hate relationship with food. I love it for obvious reasons, but I hate it for what I allow it to do to me. Food is meant to be eaten, not dreamed about and lived for. Yet, I’ve battled this beast of a struggle consistently. I suppose you could say that food is my nemesis, my personal Groundhog Day I struggle with again and again. And for the better part of five decades, it has haunted me.
My guess is that you’ve walked through times when life feels stuck as well. You find yourself facing a struggle, perhaps an addiction, and you just can’t seem to break free from its cycle. You’ve tried every beneficial suggestion from friends and devoured self-help books on your topic, but still you find freedom beyond your reach.
I have begged the Lord to remove this “food thorn” from me more times than I can fathom. I’ve had many seasons of freedom only to be followed by seasons of defeat. I’ve walked in faith, and I’ve walked in fear. My struggle is like an annoying, little dog running alongside me, barking and yipping at my legs. At times, I’ve felt there’s no point in dealing with it due to its relentless chasing after me. But, I have a choice. You have a choice. You can be the boss of your struggle, or it will be the boss of you.
And I have really good news. Today, I write to you from a new place of acceptance where I am fully aware that my freedom hinges upon my desperation for God. I cannot walk in this freedom in my own strength. Allow me to share what I’ve found to help me on this road to freedom and to dominate this struggle.
When your life feels stuck, here are some things you can do to break free.
- Own your junk. You’ve heard it said a million times that you can’t change something you’re willing to tolerate. So, be self-aware enough about your shortcomings to where you can say, “Yes, this is my struggle.” That, my friend, is half of the battle. Remember my “food thorn” analogy? That came straight from the Bible—the Apostle Paul to be exact. And you know what Paul decided was his greatest source of strength? His weakness! God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” See 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 for the whole story. When we understand we’re weak, that’s when we’re strong.
- Ignore the naysayers. On your journey toward liberation, you’ll find people who don’t support your new choices. Not everyone is willing to own their junk or try to understand yours. When you step out and do just that, expect opposition. There will be those who encourage you to have one more drink, eat one more dessert, or take one more shopping spree. Sometimes it’s because they don’t want your right choices to cause them to feel guilty for their wrong ones. Sometimes it’s because they just don’t understand how difficult it can be for you to override their influence. This is when it’s best to walk away and create some distance in those relationships.
- Find your support. There are people out there who struggle just like you, and you need to find them. Ask God to send you people who’ve been on this road longer than you and those who are just beginning. These are the people you can share with because they get you. They understand your journey and can champion your recovery from the struggle that plagues you. Consider finding or starting a LifeGroup of people who are trying to overcome the same challenges you are.
- Feed your spirit. What you feed, grows. So, instead of feeding the struggle by focusing on it, feed your spirit instead. Fill your mind with God’s Word, books from Bible-teaching authors, and music and media that lifts you up. Because when we feed the spirit, the flesh starves.
- Start fresh—now. Our lives are laced with failure. But even when we fail to succeed, it does not mean we’ve failed permanently. It just means we had a setback. So, even when you face a self-imposed letdown, start over right then and there. Don’t throw in the towel thinking you can never defeat this struggle. With the power of Christ, you can do this!
I’d like to tell you that applying these suggestions to your life guarantees prevention of further struggle. I cannot do that. I still have days when my spiritual enemy comes after me with temptations that are almost too hard to resist. But, I have more days where I put my hand up to him and say, “Don’t even think about it.”
Stay the course. When life feels stuck, God has your back. You can do this by His power.