Ever had a hangover? I haven't, in the literal sense of the word, but my health condition has a parallel that's enough to teach me the same hangover lesson.
Hypoglycemia means having low blood sugar. You'd think that would mean I could eat sugar all day long (I wish!) but it doesn't work that way. The real problem is that my insulin is hyperactive, and if I "cheat" and eat something sweet, my insulin kicks in too fast and too much, and my sugar shoots up too fast, and then it plummets too fast, causing all sorts of problems.
For example, say it's a special day and I decide this should be an exception to my normally restrictive diet. I eat a delightful scoop of chocolate ice cream, which my taste buds thoroughly enjoy for about five minutes, then I continue to feel good for even an hour or two. However, when the insulin starts my blood sugar numbers on their downward slide, my body starts to panic and shoots me with adrenaline, along with a pile of other nasty symptoms like sweating, shaking, nausea, headache, confusion, weakness, stress, etc.
I.E. a sugar hangover
Why on earth would I go through all that for just a few minutes of taste-bud happy? How ridiculously foolish that seems when it's in words. But somehow, in the situation, when everyone else is enjoying something and I want to taste something good too, it is easy to ignore the consequences and enjoy the moment.
But that's all it is: a moment. Then for up to 48 hours I, and my family, endure the negative ramifications that came from me wanting my mouth to be happy.
Sounds really, really selfish when it's put like that. Yet there are people who get literal hangovers every weekend, committing themselves and their families to suffering through them just so they can enjoy a great party, telling themselves they deserve a evening of "exception" mode.
People do this with more than alcohol or food. It's easy to tell yourself this situation is an exception and you deserve to be allowed to lose your temper ("Did you see what he did?!") or to spit out a cutting remark ("It's not like I killed someone or anything.") or to throw yourself a pity party ("You just don't understand what I'm going through right now. I deserve to feel sorry for myself.").
Unfortunately, we aren't the only ones who suffer from our exception hangovers. Others suffer from the behaviors we allow ourselves in our exceptions.
It's easy to tell ourselves that because this is an exception, it is not who we really are. Truth is, however, our exception moments show much about what is really deep inside us, what we are most prone to give into --they reveal what the Bible calls our "besetting sins," those specific weaknesses that we are most vulnerable to (Hebrews 12:1).
So if my life should not be about giving in to "exceptions," but retaining self-control even in the special or difficult or stressful or sad moments, I need to change my thinking. Here's the verse that helps me best.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Proverbs 25:28 KJV
The picture I get in my head shows a city totally vulnerable to attack. When I'm letting my feelings and desires control my choices, rather than the other way around, I am leaving myself open and vulnerable to attack.
Have you noticed how giving in isn't enough? One time is nice, but then two times is better, then we find that it's still not enough. We want more exceptions, more "cheating" on the way we know we should live. We leave ourselves more and more open to attack, more and more defeated days and not only exception hangover, but spiritual hangovers as well.
I heard once that being 100% about something is easier than being 95%, because if there is room for an exception, you are always thinking about where that next exception is. I agree. I know, because I've seen it in my own life. And always thinking about the next exception (despite the negative consequences) is a kind of addiction, keeping you from focusing on God or others. Not a fun life.
So next time everyone else is eating ice cream, I'm going to smile, say no thanks, and not eat even one bite (I'm no good at eating one bite, so I might as well not pretend that's all I'd eat!).
What "exception" causes you trouble? What verse helps you fight that?