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Fresh Starts: How to Make a Clean Break

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I don’t think a great many of us would like to admit that we have enemies in this life. Most of us are happy to be team players, to get along with as many as possible, to not have a dark side. But lately, I have discovered an enemy in my life, and he is vile. He is out to get me, of this I am certain. His sole purpose in life is to make sure that I don’t succeed, that I find my way to trouble, that I don’t achieve my goals. I will even go as far as to say that he is ugly, like just really unpleasant to look at.

My enemy is the notorious Ice Cream Snickers Bar.

In my efforts to get in shape and loose a bunch of weight, he’s an ugly little bugger. Sure, he looks all innocent sitting their in the freezer section of the local grocery store. He even has an inviting little wrapper, at the moment adorned with an American flag. Delicious AND patriotic? Yes please!

But then after consuming this harmless looking little snack, I am immediately filled with regret and shame. How could I consume so many calories today? Why would I undo all the hard work that I have been putting in these last few weeks? Wouldn’t I have been just as happy with a bowl of strawberries or something? And sure enough, the weeks that I succumb to those little devils are the weeks that I plateau in my weight loss struggle. Jerks.

So a few weeks ago I made a choice to not eat them any more. No matter how inviting they were, no matter what adorned the packaging, no matter the sales pitch, I was going to leave the Snickers bar right there in the freezer. Where it belonged. Next to the M&M cookie sandwiches that I am surprised never tempted me. These little devils are an enemy, and I needed a clean break.

I think we all have our vices. We all have little enemies in our lives that seek to undo all the healthy growth we’ve experienced in recent days and months. Sometimes they’re silly, like a Snickers bar. But sometimes they’re a bit more deadly, like alcohol or pornography or gambling. These vices tear at us both physically and emotionally, don’t they? We kind of know that they are destructive and menacing, but one more couldn’t hurt...

So sometimes you just need to make a clean break. Sometimes you need to walk away, to say you’ve had enough, to leave it all behind. This can be rather difficult, even a good bit daunting, so I’ve prepared a quick “How to” guide for us this morning. Here is how to make a clean break:

Step One: Name your enemy. The most harmful of vices in my life have been the ones that I didn’t even know were there. These sneaky jerks get in there and wreck life up without our giving them a second thought. So we have to name our vices, to give a label to the things that are actually holding us back. This is difficult work. It usually requires some soul searching, and perhaps even a trusted friend to speak truth in to our lives. But we’ll never make a clean break if we don’t know what we’re making a clean break from.

Step Two: Know the difference between step downs and cold turkey. So I was able to quit Snickers bars cold turkey. No step down process required. It was actually pretty easy, just stop buying them and lo! They were no longer in the house for me to eat. But not at vices work like that, in fact very few do. Sometimes we can just cut and run, but sometimes we need help. If smoking is your vice, they make the patch to help ease you off of it. If soda is an enemy, maybe switch over to water or coffee or something like that. If you think you are an alcoholic, get together with AA or one of those support groups. Which leads me to my next suggestion:

Step Three: Under no circumstances go it alone. I have fought enough vices in my life to know that trying to deal with it all by myself is a recipe for disaster. Get together with someone (or a few someones) who can help. Name the enemy for them as well as for yourself. Give them permission to call you out when you start slipping back in to your vices. Invite them to pray for you and hold you up before God. It sounds pretty self evident, but it’s amazing how much growth can happen when you surround yourself with a team of caring people.

Step Four: Pray it out. One of those folks who should find their way into your support team is Jesus himself. We worship a God who wants to see us flourish and grow, which means occasionally making a clean break and starting over from our vices. This is why we have a confession time in our worship services. It’s not an effort to make us feel bad about ourselves, it’s an effort for us to get honest with God, and to allow God to heal and transform us from the inside. Once you’ve named your enemy, make sure you do what Jesus asked you to and pray for that enemy each and every day.

It’s tough work, I know. Even typing all of this, I’ve been tempted to head to Giant Eagle and pick up a Snickers. But we can do this! We can make a clean break. You and I, we can have the Fresh Start we’ve been longing for!

Next Week: How to Pick Up The Broken Pieces

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