Growing up in a family of six meant mealtimes tended to be a bit of a case of survival of the fittest. My parents did their best to put food on the table and I don’t ever remember going hungry. While unknown to us at the time they sometimes found themselves without a meal we children certainly had no shortage. And even still we had a ‘me first’ attitude right from our youngest years. I remember my father talking about a need for medicine for it and by the time I was four even I knew what was coming.
“Yup. You kids need a pill. A sulfa-denial pill.”
We’d groan at the cheesy humour but it was usually enough to make us step back and think about our actions.
Too bad self-denial didn’t really come in pill form. It would be so convenient. Just think. Christmas dinner. You have a banquet laid out before you but you know the doctor wants you to lose weight. Oh it’s so hard! You grab your bottle of pills out of your coat pocket, pop one quickly and presto! Self-denial kicks in and you don’t eat all those yummy things that are bad for you.
Or you sit in your car outside that store. You know you shouldn’t go in. There are products and books in that store that aren’t fit for human eyes. It’s a place where Jesus wouldn’t want you to go. The pill slips down your throat and you shift the car into gear and drive off.
Maybe it’s one of those days when your kids are driving you batty and nothing would please you more than to scream at the top of your lungs until you collapse with the stress relief that shouting brings. There goes that self-denial pill again and suddenly you’re the perfect parent—calm, patient and eager to spend the extra time playing with those little darlings of yours.
Life’s not that simple though. I wish it was. I’d have my cupboards stacked with bottles of self-denial pills. Pills that would help me keep my cool when the people in my world aren’t doing exactly what I’d like them to do. Pills that would keep me from dipping into the refrigerator unnecessarily or out of the clothing store (or the tack shops in my case). Pills that would erase my complacencies. Pills that would take my mind off that last task that calls to me with a voice as loud as the one that my heavenly Father uses when He wants moments with me. Pills that would calm me when I read the news and discover that yet another heinous crime has been committed and the perpetrator has walked away with a slapped wrist. Wait a minute! Pills like that would clean up our justice system. Our world.
But they don’t exist. And so it is up to us to practice the art of self-denial. When we view something we shouldn’t look at or read something we shouldn’t allow into our minds, it is our responsibility to turn the channel or close the book. When we look temptation in the face it is our job to say ‘You cannot have me! I won’t be taken!’ When we put our work before God—or our loved ones—it is our place to recognize and set aside those things that would build those walls.
As we write, let us always remember the sulfa-denial pill. In all we do, as believers, with God’s help, we must strive to sacrifice self for the sake of Christ’s work. If that means not writing a piece, then it is up to us to pass it by. If it means putting to pen words that may not be warm and fuzzy then that is our calling and self must not interfere. If it means sitting back and assessing our writing perspective and our priorities then self had better not get in the way.
Who knows, some day, the medical world may come up with a self-denial pill. Until then it is up to us.
~ Donna Dawson