Updated: May 3, 2021
Willpower can only do so much and take you so far, and the longer the timeframe of a struggle, the more resistant it becomes to willpower and good intentions. Any person who has been unable to overcome a struggle, whether it is an addiction, anger, self-condemnation, gossip, sexual sin, or alcoholism, will tell you that their lack of success to overcome the challenge was not for want of desire or willpower.
Allow me though, to step back and give you a little context.
I tend to only fast if there is a pressing issue in my life, and though we should always pray, I must admit that it is never an easy decision to give up food. Therefore, I had no intention to participate in the Lenten prayer and fast (just passed), because I felt that I did not have any issue that would motivate such a huge sacrifice. Eventually though, I was led to participate and the result of this surrender was answered prayer, clarity and direction, and a deeper understanding of God's will for my life. Emerging from this prayer and fast were 5 prominent revelations (admittedly, some of personal rather than spiritual importance😊).
1. I will never willingly be a vegetarian or vegan. Therefore, if a doctor doesn’t recommend it, or God doesn’t require it, I am NOT doing it! I am officially a ‘meat-a-tarian’.🍗😊
2. I finally found something blander and more tasteless than avocado and cauliflower and it is called soya chunks. No matter how I prepared that thing, it was absolutely yucky!🤢
Phew!!!! I finally got that out🥴... so now, the deeper enlightenments...
3. Spending dedicated and intimate time with God every morning was fulfilling; and as the days rolled by, I was eager to meet with Him to learn something new.
4. Remembering the WHY of whatever you've committed to doing, will help to push you through the tough days when you feel like giving up.
5. I couldn’t complete the journey if God didn’t give me the grace and strength to do so.
This last point, was the main inspiration for this piece… that Grace will Do What Willpower Simply Cannot.
The world is filled with people with good intentions; people who make the plan, create the vision board, throw out the junk food or move to a different city/country, all with the intention to start a new journey. Unfortunately, a large proportion of noble, well intended, life changing decisions often fail because good intentions and willpower can get you started, but they are unlikely to sustain the actions that will result in breakthrough.
Arguably, willpower may stop a person from picking up a snack as she waits in line at the grocery to checkout, but will it be enough to completely remove the desire, transform her habits and so transform her life. When in our own strength, we try our hardest at something which then fails, it is commonplace to condemn ourselves, harbour guilt, become disenchanted and place the blame on our deficient willpower. After all, weren't we taught that we can achieve anything if we give it our all and do not give up? But should we really feel dejected and broken if our willpower failed us at something that it simply could not achieve. Are we unfairly castigating ourselves when things do not turn out as we desired, despite our very best efforts?
A long time ago I held an uninformed and maybe even arrogant perspective that those who struggled with weight gain did not possess enough willpower to make the necessary lifestyle changes. It took some growing up for me to fully appreciate that we all struggle in different areas and that something which may be easy for one person could be an arduous climb for someone else.
More importantly, I learnt that something that may be easy in one season of someone's life may be very difficult in another. A year or two ago I “got happy” (as my friends and I say), put on a few pounds and then tried to exercise it off. Although I had been exercising consistently since my latter teenage years, this time, I would set a goal, start an exercise routine, and then stop in 3 or 4 days. My willpower just was not cooperating and I could not understand what was happening. In the past, I would change my eating habit almost instantaneously and then workout with the consistency of an athlete. That time however, my will power just was not enough and I kept failing.
Whether the issue is big or small, the principle is the same; breakthroughs, especially those that are meant to transform your life, need God’s grace. He is the only one who has promised to take what is old and broken and make it new. God’s grace is what He describes as sufficient, which means that it will always be effective, it will always bring comfort, it will always transform and there will never be a situation that can overpower His Grace. Willpower and the decision to change is only the start and it is a very important start, but it must be combined with God’s grace to sustain the decision.
If we hungrily desire a change, then we must put self and willpower aside and ask God to step in. His grace will be the catalyst to get you unstuck and moving in the direction of your destiny.