It starts small. Perhaps it’s a decision to not go to the gym on Monday after a weekend of drinking a little too much. Then it’s another decision to buy a carton of ice cream because it’s on sale and we ‘deserve’ a treat. Then it’s a decision to grab that second cup of coffee at 11 am and forgo lunch. Or we receive our salad that we ordered and it has cheese and dressing on it (both of which we requested to leave off) and we decide to just eat it instead of ‘making a fuss’. These are small decisions that seem harmless in the moment, but before we know it, we are sliding down the slippery slope of compromise.
Compromise is when we go a little bit below what we know to be right. It’s when we go a little bit below what we have established as our standards. The problem with compromise is just a little bit of compromise distorts everything. Once we make a compromise in one area of our life, it opens the door for other areas.
The deception begins when we partner with the mindset that says, ‘it’s okay just this once’ or ‘this isn’t that big of a deal’ or ‘no one else is this concerned about x, y or z, so why should I be?’. Once we engage in this mindset, it seems permissible to make a tiny compromising decision. And after we do it once, we find that the next compromising decision is even easier to make. Then we find ourselves going further than we ever imagined we would when we made the first compromising decision. That is why it is a slippery slope. Compromise not only ends up lowering our standards, it robs us of our desired results and destroys what we have created. Some of us will live in denial of this fundamental truth and that is why we feel stuck in life. We cannot make compromises and keep or produce the results reaped by walking in greatness and integrity. It is not possible.
It’s time to ask ourselves, how much do we damage our lives and sabotage our results with little compromises?
I’m not talking about being perfect. As a fundamental principle of The Healthy Edge lifestyle, perfection is and always will remain a horrible standard because it’s impossible to achieve and maintain. It will always lead to feeling like a failure and eventually giving up.
Here are some more examples of what compromise may look like in our health journey:
- Sleeping in instead of getting up and spending time with God.
- Skipping breakfast and just grabbing a cup of coffee.
- Working late to finish a project and cancelling your evening workout class.
- Giving into the busyness and chaos of the day and just ordering pizza to keep things simple and stress-free.
- Eating cheese and gluten at a party, despite food sensitivities.
- Drinking that second and third glass of wine despite knowing that you will pay for it physically and emotionally the next day.
- Telling yourself that you are only going to eat one cookie, and giving into the ‘one cookie’ temptation every hour until the cookies are gone.
Sounds a lot like self-sabotage doesn’t it? Yes, it is a form of self-sabotage. But compromise speaks to the internal standards and personal compass we live by. It deals with the conviction in our spirits and the barometer of our hearts as to what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. When we compromise, it fuels guilt, shame and condemnation because it goes against the fiber of who we believe or desire ourselves to be.
Often compromise shows up in one of these four forms. A simple example is included to illustrate how this may look in our health journey. Which one(s) can you most relate to?
- We compromise who we really are to be who we think others want us or think us to be.
Example: You go to dinner with your girlfriends. You are rocking out your health journey and have not drank alcohol in three weeks. You feel amazing. You love waking up every day with a clear mind and no lingering effects of drinking. You feel like you are being true to yourself for the first time in years. You have committed to yourself, your coach and God that you are going to go four weeks without drinking alcohol to build your confidence, reestablish your power and reap the health benefits. You start off strong and order a glass of sparkling water, but as the drinks flow and your friends seems to be having more and more fun, you begin to question if it would be okay just this one time. “What if I have just one glass?”, you ask yourself. Then you tell yourself, “This is not about being perfect, right? What’s the harm? I don’t want to be deprived.” And then someone comments that you need to loosen up and have some fun (which you interpret as them saying you are not fun). So when they order the next round, you order a glass of wine. Everyone cheers. You smile, but inside you feel guilty and as if you have let yourself down. But you drink up and the alcohol kicks in and you order another one. The next day you wake up feeling like a truck hit you. You remember why you decided alcohol needed to go. You hit snooze a couple of times and drag yourself out of bed. Food doesn’t even sound good, so you grab a cup of coffee and head out the door - not even thinking about spending the time or energy to prepare for the day. One small compromise distorts everything.
- We compromise taking care of our own needs in order to take care of the needs or desires of others.
Example: You receive a phone call at work that your best friend’s husband is in the hospital. She needs you to pick up some things at her house and bring them to the hospital at some point. You can tell she is super distressed and instead of finishing up what you need to do so you can be present and feel in control when you visit your friend, you leave in a crazy hurry neglecting to grab your cooler of healthy food you packed for the day or your water bottle. You leave work frantically and grab what she has requested and you head to the hospital. Five hours later, you are still at the hospital and haven’t eaten one bite of food or drank anything but a cup of coffee. You are fading fast. You are not only tired, but you are irritable and you start to feel resentful and you then you feel guilty about feeling resentful. You don’t want to leave your friend, but she seems to need you (even though you haven’t directly asked what she needs or wants). At this point, you are so desperate and surrendered that you search for a vending machine and try to make the best decision possible - which is a pop tart and bottled water. This whole scenario could have played out differently with the same intended result of helping your friend without sacrificing taking care of yourself and would have resulted in a better overall outcome for all parties involved. Compromise can be fueled by martyrdom.
- We compromise doing what is best in a situation in exchange for ease, comfort, keeping the peace and familiarity.
Example: You have had a heck of a day. You woke up to a slew of frantic emails and texts from work and your daughter forgot her lunch. You have been running behind all day. Work keeps you late and you receive a text from your husband: what’s for dinner? Ugh. There is not a shred of a fiber within you that wants to think about dinner. You know that your husband is capable of doing whatever you tell him (even though it won’t be done to your satisfaction). You also know there are eggs available and meat for tacos - but you convince yourself that the the energy to tell him what to do to prepare dinner is more than you can deal with. Although you just ordered pizza two days ago and you made a commitment to yourself that you were going to set an example for your children that healthy is a priority - even when life gets crazy and hectic - you give into the thought of just telling your husband to order pizza and cheesy bread. Heck, it sounds so comforting to you as well. You also tell him to open up a bottle of wine, because you need a drink and you deserve it after the day you have had - even though you drank two bottles over the weekend. You come home and the kids are happily eating their pizza and they say, “Mom, you must have had a rough day for us to get pizza again! Thanks!” You feel the pangs of guilt and compromise set into the pit of your stomach - so you grab your glass of wine, fill it up a little bit more and put two slices of pizza on your plate. You’ll get back on track tomorrow you tell yourself - or at least when work settles down. Stress can make compromise falsely feel like a gift or relief, but the consequences are never a gift or relief.
- We compromise our standards of what is right for the world’s standards of what is normal.
I would like to speak to this last bullet in a little more depth because I believe this is a trend we are seeing more and more in society. We cannot miss the distinction between what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘best’ or ‘right’. The world’s wants to tells us that what is normal is also is right. There are serious ramifications to this line of thinking. Here are some examples. It is becoming ‘normal’ to:
- divorce and find a new spouse rather than work on yourself and the marriage we have.
- struggle with weight and be on various medications as a lifestyle.
- numb ourselves and temporarily escape the reality of life with some method (alcohol, pills, marijuana, shopping, gambling, porn, social media, television, sleeping, etc.)
- expect our kids will try drugs or alcohol by the time they are ___ years old, so we just do drink and smoke with them.
- have sex and live with someone before we are married.
- use dangerous, extreme and unhealthy methods in the name of beauty.
- create a virtual life through social media even if it’s different than our reality.
- choose convenience and comfort over quality and sacrifice.
- tell a little lie or not be completely honest with someone to avoid conflict or being caught.
I have some of your attention now. And some of you are offended. Of course you are. That is what is driving the worldly pressure to make things ‘normal’ - so no one is offended. If we would, for a moment, separate every single one of the above examples from the value and inherent worth of the person - there would be no need to be offended. It is only when we tie our worth and value as a human being to our decisions and behaviors and whether or not they are good or bad that warrants us to get defensive.
Don’t think that I am speaking from a pulpit or a high place of holiness. Currently, I am separated from my husband. I don’t believe it’s right. It’s definitely not ideal. I know it is not part of God’s plan for marriage. I also know that I contributed as much as my husband did to the breakdown and dysfunction in our marriage. But I don’t need the world to make me feel better and tell me it’s normal and acceptable, because it’s not. If I adopted the ‘it’s normal and acceptable’ mindset, I would soon find myself compromising my values and morals and simply giving up and giving in. I’d already be looking to move onto a new relationship or create a profile on match.com. But I am choosing not to compromise what I believe about 1) the sanctity of marriage and family and 2) the healing and restorative power of God to resurrect what is dead. I have hope for my marriage and as I walk obediently and in love, I believe God is working in and through my circumstances. I’m not committed to the outcome, I’m committed to the process. If I was committed to the outcome, I would find myself tempted to compromise because the desired outcome hasn’t been achieved. I am crystal clear on what is ‘right’ versus what the world says is ‘normal’ in my current situation. I don’t need to tell myself that I am ‘normal’ in order to wake up every morning and know I am loved, accepted and valued despite what I am going through. But often we tie our circumstances, situation, failures, popularity and success to WHO we are - and that in itself can encourage us to compromise through conforming to societal standards (instead of God’s standards) to save face and feel ‘normal’.
The above examples are all considered normal by our current societal standards, but are they good? Are people getting happier or more discontent? Are they bringing us closer to how God intended and designed things to be? Are they what we want for our children? Just food for thought.
I may be getting a little bit off the health topic, but like I said earlier – a little bit of compromise distorts everything. Once we compromise in one area of our life, it becomes ‘acceptable’ and therefore very easy to carry one decision over to another and another and another, until we are so far off course – we wonder how in the world will be ever find our way back.
Why do we compromise? Along with the fundamental reasons listed above, I believe we compromise because:
- Doing the right thing doesn’t seem to make a difference.
- We have fear of conflict or being different.
- We are confused about what is right or wrong.
- We lose focus of our priorities.
- We follow others instead of our inner voice. No one else is doing it, why should I?
- We question our value and worth, so we lower our standards for our lives.
- We don’t get our expected results. (We get impatient.)
- It gets hard, so we make it easier.
- It’s comfortable and we like to be comfortable.
- We don’t feel like it and the world tell us, “Do what you feel!!!”
- We fail, so who cares?
All of these stem from a lack of identity in God, a lack of knowing our purpose and a lack of faith that God is ultimately in complete control.
All of the above are also part of our sin nature. Yes, sin nature - the nature that we are born with because we live in a fallen world. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the God of the Bible or not – we all have a sin nature to be selfish, get distracted, doubt, partner with fear, isolate and divide in conflict, be addicted to our comfort and be ruled by our feelings. Our sin nature has to be overcome and God already provided the plan. He didn’t destine us to live enslaved by sin. His plan has always been to send a savior so we would be saved and delivered from the death and destruction of our own selves through sin. Jesus is that Savior. He paid the price so we can walk in freedom and have complete power and authority over sin. Because we are free, we don’t need to compromise because we know who and to whom we belong and why we were created. When we know these things deep within us, there is nothing to fuel the need to compromise.
“Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” Galatians 1:4
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
I wouldn’t have believed what I just typed until I experienced if first hand. The compromises I have allowed into my life have been numerous and have come from selfishness and confusion of what is truth and what is a lie. I have gone after what the world says will make me happy and successful and reaped only emptiness and confusion. Only when I surrendered to Jesus were my eyes opened and my shackles broken off. I live free - nothing and no one in this world has power over me.
Why is this conversation important? Compromise is the enemy of a purpose driven life. But more than that – compromise leads to a lukewarm life. Living a lukewarm life is torture. A lukewarm life is dead. I’ve lived lukewarm in many areas of my life including my health, my marriage and my faith. Scripture says in Matthew 12:33: ‘Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.’ What if we decided to live an all-in life, without compromise?
Here are four key principles to set a foundation to avoid compromise.
- Declare your priorities. If we do not know what is important, we will have absolutely no compass to guide us in our daily decisions (big or small) and no foundation on which to set our standards. Standards are created from our priorities - not vice versa. If health is not a priority, we will automatically have very low standards for what is acceptable to eat, drink and how to manage stress. Our priorities are not evident based on what we say they are, but they are revealed through where we spend our time, energy and financial resources. What are your top four priorities in life?
- Create a vision for each priority. Now that we have identified our priorities, it is important to have a vision for each of our areas of top priority. What is the goal? What is the point? Without a vision, we will feel confused and overwhelmed because everything will feel like a “yes” if it pertains to one of our priorities.
Here’s an example. My daughter, Berlyn, is one of my top three priorities. But my vision for my daughter is that she knows she is loved, accepted and created for a purpose God has predetermined for her. My vision also includes my role as a mom - that I am a living example of love, health and faith. This vision drives all my decisions about what we read, what we talk about, what we do with our time, who we spend our time with, how I discipline, what I am willing to sacrifice to stay at home and raise her and what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior. This is very different from a vision to raise a highly educated and financially successful child who excels at everything she does in the world and be a mother who shows her what it means to work hard and be a success in the corporate world. I am not saying either one of these visions is better than the other, but the decisions and choices will be significantly different.
Another example is around my health. My health is a priority but my vision has nothing to do with a scale, a size of clothes or how I look in a bathing suit. As a matter of fact, if I never wore a bathing suit again, it would be fine with me. My vision for my health is to have the energy, stamina and physical ability to live out my purpose daily. I keep physically fit to be a beacon of light to attract others to me so I can share the freedom I enjoy emotionally, physically and spiritually. With this as my vision, I make decisions that are very different than living with a vision of weighing 120 pounds and having 15% body fat in order to have the best body at the gym. Different visions require different choices.
What is your vision for each one of your priorities?
- Set your standards. Once we know our priorities and the vision for each priority, now we can establish our standards for living towards our vision. Standards can also be viewed as boundaries or guardrails that keep us protected and on the path to our destination or vision.
Let me go back to my health journey priority. A standard for me is keeping a safe environment. If I want to live free from obsession and guilt around food, then I choose to surround myself with healthy food and foods that I know I am in control around. I use to not be able to have tortilla chips in my home or I would devour them in about two days. But as my conviction for my health priority has deepened and matured, I can easily eat 5-8 chips and put the bag away - never giving it another thought. My standard didn’t change to keep a safe environment, but the boundaries within that standard has evolved. You can see that this demonstrates the fundamental principle I mentioned earlier of progress, not perfection.
A standard I have for raising Berlyn is let our “yes be a yes and our no be a no”. This is all around the integrity of our word. I believe it is important for Berlyn to value the word of God as truth and that her words would also be truths. If we say “yes” to something, we follow through - even if it costs us comfort or convenience. We pray before we eat and at bedtime. And if we forget to pray (which happens), I bring it to our attention that we forgot to pray and we ask God to forgive us and we pray as soon as we remember because God is our source for all the good things in our lives. I don’t just “let it go” and not say anything. Standards are consistent, even if they are not perfect.
My standard for a relationship with God use to be to go to church every Sunday. That is no longer a top standard because my vision is no longer just about “doing what makes me look like a good Christian so I don’t feel guilty.” My vision is to walk daily in the presence of God and allow Him to rule and guide my life. Going to church every Sunday is a bonus to the standards I have for how I worship, pray and live my life every day with God.
What standards are necessary to achieve the vision for each of your priorities? What is acceptable and what is not? What are the hard stops and what are the areas for flexibility?
- Check your gut. Now is the part of the process where the execution happens. If you are a Jesus follower - you have been given the Comforter, Counselor and Convicter, known as The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guide to make decisions. It is also known as our “gut instinct”. Have you ever had a decision to make that seemed obvious, but you felt in your gut that it wasn’t the right decision and you were right? That is the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. When you take time to commune with God to get clear on your priorities, you will begin to engage in God’s vision for your life and establish your standards based on the word of God and The Holy Spirit. John 16:13 says, ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” So amazing! The Holy Spirit speaks the will and truth of God directly to your heart.
I had a gut check a year and a half ago to not drink alone. I had another gut check six months ago to give up drinking for a year. This was in response to putting God as my number one priority and asking Him to remove any and all things that were hindering the purpose and plan He had for my life. (Be careful what you ask for.) I became convicted, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this step was necessary to draw closer to Him and to hear his voice. I cannot begin to describe the time and energy that has been freed up with this simple, obedient act. The blessings continue to pour in and I have never felt more confident in who I am and certain that I am exactly where I should be. That is peace, my friends.
What is your gut telling you? What have you been thinking about, but you keep pushing it down and pushing it away? What would be the harm in submitting and surrendering to something bigger than you that just may have a better plan for your life that you do?
Thank you for reading. I pray that this reaches open hearts and open minds and guides you into living a purposeful and abundant life full of freedom and hope. If you would like to have a personal conversation with me about your health journey and what it looks like to take The Healthy Edge journey, please click here to schedule a free 45-minute session with me! Be blessed. Live and love healthy!