What is it about family? They can endear you to them, thoroughly annoy you, and make you crazy all within 24 hours without even trying.
Take my sister, Debi, for example. Last week she and my niece, Hannah, visited from Ohio for two days. The first thing I noticed as they emerged from the car was that Debi had become a shadow of her former self.
She dropped about 35 pounds over the last three months. I had to admit, she looked great, and I told her so. Unfortunately, I followed the compliment up with the question "How did you do it?" (Big mistake.)
For the next two days my dear sister expounded on the joys of her weight loss program, which involved calculators, endless lists of caloric content in different foods and the handful of "free" foods that apparently could be consumed with wild abandon. (As wild as one can get with a pear and skim milk, anyway.)
I applauded my sister's dedication, self-discipline and self-denial. But as the saying goes, "Nobody's more zealous than a convert." (Three guesses whom she tried to convert.)
By way of explanation, I should note that I live a calm life. I don't imbibe in alcohol, haven't danced since the seventh-grade spring fling and the wildest thing I do on New Year's Eve is toast the year with sparkling grape juice.
All that being said, I do enjoy eating. In fact, I associate my favorite experiences with food. Baked ham and potato salad means Christmas Eve. Mom's sloppy joes and chocolate birthday cake with mocha fudge frosting says childhood birthdays, and a pot of vegetable beef soup means it's time to warm up because its fall.
Considering this, it's probably not hard to imagine how enthusiastic I'm likely to get over butterless bagels, cheeseless pizza, and milkless mashed potatoes. (Not very.)
I knew Debi and I had reached an impossible impasse when her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and she said, "And I can have an entire cup of beans!"
"Um, you mean beans and dumplings?" I asked.
"Oh, good heavens no!" she replied, looking as scandalized as if I had suggested pairing them with crack cocaine. "Dumplings are loaded with carbs; so are noodles. You can never have noodles."
"Sorry, sis," I told her, shaking my head. "The noodles are a deal breaker. This program is definitely not for me." (Actually, I'm not all that enamored with noodles. It was those other "less-es" that I couldn't handle.)
Nobody's more zealous than a convert. With diets, that can be annoying, but with faith in Jesus, it can be soul-saving. Are you zealous about what matters most?