Today is day 3. Day 3 of what you might ask? Three days ago I humbled my heart before God and confessed to Him my sinful eating habits. I eat when I'm not hungry because I'm bored. I eat things that have way too many calories in them just because they taste good. I binge on favorite foods just to feel that orgy of taste in my mouth, totally ignoring the pain in my stomach because I've eaten far more than my stomach can hold.
What has happened in these three days? Well, I'm going to set this down on paper so maybe I can use it to help others some day. If I don't, well, then, I guess I'll have something to remember this by.
I've done so many diets, starved myself, limited myself so much that I decided I cannot do that again. Besides, since none of them were working, obviously they weren't getting at the root of my problem. If the depression I used to suffer from was caused by my being frustrated because I was not in control of my life, perhaps the eating problem was the same. After all, I know that I often ate things that were bad for me just because I wanted to. I would lose a few pounds and then gain back more because it scared me to be out of control of my body in such a way. Weird. The more weight I gained, the more out of control I really was. And yet, while I felt that on one level, on another level I was more in control of my life because I was eating what and when I wanted to.
So, the time came. The book Pare and I are writing has a chapter on addictions. Since he was writing on the false teachings, I was the chosen one to work on the more counseling oriented chapters which meant, addictions. Ever since last summer I have been wracking my brain to try to figure out what to write in the chapter of a book about how to biblically deal with addictions, all the while wanting to hide my own addiction to food. Oh, not that it can be hidden when you weigh 245 and are only 5'3" tall. It's pretty obvious to everyone around you.
Sure, I would have liked to have excused it or claimed heredity, but at the back of my mind, the matter wasn't settled at all. OAM believes that the problems we are faced with are doctrinally oriented. If this is really true, if I really believed what I was using to counsel others, then my overeating must also be because I am not believing God to be who He is and me to be who I am, a wretched sinner, choosing my own way over His.
I took the matter up with Pare one night and he, being a dear who didn't want to hurt my feelings, told me that yes, addictions really do come down to our choosing our own self-satisfaction over what God has told us is right but that change would come in time. But I think the time has now come, three days ago.
After talking with Pare, I felt drawn to go before God and confess to Him that my eating habits were not pleasing to Him. I admitted how I overeat instead of trusting in His provision. I look for comfort in food instead of looking for comfort in Him. I choose to satisfy my own selfish desires rather than do what is best for the kingdom of God. There were so many people I'd helped to take the speck out of their eyes that it was now time for me to take the plank out of my own eye by confessing my sin to our holy and perfect God.
When it came time for breakfast the next morning, something was different. I was a bit rushed and normally would have stopped at McDonald's for a quick breakfast on the go, but instead I found myself reaching for the yogurt in the frig. When I packed my lunch, I "felt" like eating a salad and some brown rice. I took less than I normally do without even realizing it. I was hungry at noon but not hungry throughout the day.
I thought to myself, "This is just a fluke. I'm just not hungry much today for some reason. I bet I'll be really hungry after school because I haven't had much today." I was a bit concerned because it was the end of the week and the cupboards were kind of sparse so I needed to stop at the grocery store to pick a few things up on my way home. Well, any woman who does the grocery shopping in her house will tell you the first cardinal rule to shopping: Never go to the grocery when you are hungry.
But the end of school came that day and my stomach was satisfied. I began to wonder if I was getting sick! I am usually famished by the end of the school day and often carry yogurt or some kind of snack (chocolate usually!) to tide me over till supper. Again, I was skeptical. Thinking to myself as I walked into Kroger's, "Yep, this won't last long when I start seeing the food in here. I'll be plenty hungry when I start walking down the aisles." But it didn't happen. In my mind, instead of walking past items and asking myself, "What do I want to eat?" I asked myself, "Would this be pleasing to God if I eat it?"
This was getting really weird by now. My grocery cart was filled with vegetables, fruits, lean cuts of meat and healthy cereals, everything I knew in my mind was good for me, but what I'd passed by on before because it didn't taste as good as other things. Hmmmm. I figured this was just because it was so on my mind to begin eating healthier.
It's now day three
of this, and the same things have been happening. When faced with an eating
temptation (like those Cadbury Caramel Eggs, YUM!), the first thing to
cross my mind was, "Will this be pleasing to God if I eat it?"
It was almost as if God was saying, "Trust me in this, honey. If
you worry more about pleasing Me than about pleasing yourself, you will
never be disappointed in the results."
I keep thinking of Philippians 4:13. "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." And I guess the only real way to do that is to be more concerned about pleasing Him than pleasing myself.
Oh, and the scales this morning? 241. May I always choose to please Him over myself!
To be continued ..
Ouch, Lord! You've drawn me into this because I humbled my heart to you, but that heart I thought was humble keeps rising up proudly over and over again. The scale yesterday sent me into another bout of pride about (of all things!) my humility! I am so sorry, Lord, that I have such a proud heart. I know that all I have comes only from you and it is only through your grace that I am anything. It's so painful to have to face the sin inside of me, and it seems like the more I admit it to you, the more of it inside me you show me. I guess it is true what they say: the closer you get to our Holy God, the more sinful you will see yourself as. Have mercy on me, Father, for I am but dust! Pour out myself so there is more room for you.
I was wondering earlier today why this was going as it has. I mean, I've gone to God before and asked for His help to lose weight. Why should I expect this time to be any different? Well, God gave me the answer. (In times like this, you must understand that I am not saying God verbally spoke to me. I am saying that He impressed these things on my heart. I believe they are from Him, but I am not going to declare, "Thus saith the Lord" as some do because I am fallible and often make mistakes. One of my greatest fears is putting words in the Almighty's mouth when they are not from Him. One should not proclaim himself a prophet unless they are very certain that it is God who gave them the words. If there is a lack of truth in what I say I believe was from Him, then it lies not in the Sovereign God above, but in this inadequate human vessel.)
The reason was all in a matter of motive. It was as if God was telling me that all the other times my motive was to lose weight. This time, however, He reminded me, my motive was different. Before, I was seeking MY goal (i.e., to lose weight). This time I am seeking HIS goal for my life (i.e., to live in humble obedience to His voice, no matter what my body might be telling me).
So, God taught me this in the morning and gave me a pop quiz over it at noon. I was sitting in church and got so much hungrier than I have been in the past 4 days. It was pretty intense! I was overwhelmed by weakness and a horrible headache that made it almost impossible to think. Well, you must understand that the church I go to is a 30-minute drive from my home and since it is rather out in the country, there are not a lot of places of any kind between here and there. However, there is a Burger King about ten minutes from home. I asked God what I should do. Should I eat at BK or should I try to tough it out till I was home? After all, ten more minutes wasn't going to kill me but then it wasn't just 10 minutes. By the time I fixed something to eat, it would be at least another 20 minutes - and the headache was getting worse, making it hard to drive because of its intensity (those who are addicted to food will understand me here, those who aren't, well, an extra 10 minutes one way or the other doesn't seem to make any sense to you, and this is all silliness but those who are addicted as I am, they will understand and it is for them I am writing this). I asked God what would be the most pleasing to Him for me to do?
I weighed the options. If I waited till I got home, I could make something healthy, salad, vegetables, a lean cut of meat. If I stopped at BK, I wouldn't eat healthy (I'm just not a fan of fast food places' salads) and it would really add the ol' calories to my day. Why wasn't God answering me this time? Why wouldn't He tell me what would be most pleasing to Him?
Finally, He responded. Deb, He reminded me, this is not an issue of what foods you can or cannot eat or how many calories are involved. Make no mistake, my dear, it is purely a question of the heart. Are you willing to humble your heart to me? Again, there was my pride popping up. Or maybe it was really my vanity this time. Less calories=less weight, right? But here I was, changing my motivation back to myself instead of just wanting to please God. It really doesn't matter to God whether I eat a cheeseburger and fries or if I eat salad and vegetables. After all, He has provided it all. What He's concerned about is my motivation for doing so, my reason for anything I do. The eating and drinking is not the problem. The problem is whether everything I do is done because I love God and want to please Him with everything I do or not. And you know what? A burger and fries tastes REALLY good when served with humble pie. :o)
It's really interesting to examine motives on something. It amazes me how this whole addiction thing is not an isolated part of my being, but rather is making changes in all of my life. In training myself to ask myself whether or not something I'm about to put in my mouth is pleasing to God, I have to apply such a thing to the other parts of my life as well. Is my performance at work pleasing to God? Is the way I use my free time pleasing to God? Whew! This submitting to His will over mine sure is hard work!
Just about the time I think I am getting the knack of this submission thing, someone brings in brownies and banana nut bread! So, here's the choice. What is most pleasing to Him? And that's the easy question. Now, for the hard one. Will I choose to do it? The first brownie, not bad. The second? Totally for my own selfish desires. Sigh. Confess and try to do better next time.
I think there is one really important factor here that made the rest of the day easier. So many people when they fail feel like they have to "pay" for their sin by beating themselves up. That is a lesson God has been teaching me for a very long time. Self-contempt keeps me from allowing God to be the one to have paid for my sins and puts me in the place of my own "savior". God does not require us to "pay" for our sins; He's already done that. My responsibility is to confess the sin, which means to admit my guilt before Him. Do I need to ask Him for forgiveness each time? I don't believe so. To me that is rather like my father giving me a car and then for me to continue asking him for it. The car has already been given to me just as the forgiveness has already been given 2000 years ago on the cross.
What does God expect from me then? Gratitude. And love. You know, the more I am getting into things, the more I am seeing it as really a matter of gratitude. Am I grateful for what I am and what I have? Or do I want more, more food, more love, more whatever? Will I be satisfied with what God has provided or will I deny that He has provided all I really need and turn instead to myself, believing my desires are not really satisfied by what He has provided?
I have hesitated even writing these things down because it forces me to think more about myself than I sometimes think I should. But it also forces me to think about the incredible grace of my loving Lord. How wonderful He is to grant me His love and forgiveness especially when I have such a rebellious heart.
I didn't write yesterday mainly out of fatigue, but also because there were not any pressing things to deal with. And perhaps it is this uneventful-ness that is what is most remarkable. When I was on a diet, whichever one it might have been, I became obsessed with food and my days revolved around my meals, snacks, or whatever. But these past few days have been normal days. I have not been any more or less focused on my meals and instead of the frantic obsessed mode I normally go into, I am filled with a deep peace and calm assurance that this is the right path.
I did step on the scale this morning (239) but I'm not sure I'll be doing that much more. I don't think that is in keeping with why I am doing this. If it is really that I am doing this to focus on pleasing God and not to lose weight, then I have no need of scales. It's not the numbers on the scale that concerns God, but the attitude of my heart, and so that should be what concerns me as well.
Here's what I think is kind of interesting about all of this. One might think this kind of process that I am going through might turn someone legalistic, trying to keep the "law", but just the contrary is true. When I tried to diet, I felt under a bondage. Yet here I am, feeling freer than I've ever felt. I don't feel any type of bondage to food or to a diet or to anyone or anything. I am not bound to the law of obeying God, but I choose to obey out of my love and gratefulness to Him. Because of this, I feel free!
The idea of my eating habits were that I was going to be in control of them and nobody was going to tell me what to eat or when to eat or how much. I was going to be my own boss. And that included God. One would think that giving all of this over to God would be to rip that control from me and make me a type of "victim" (or at minimum a puppet) to God who would dictate my every move. If that were so, why do I feel like the little boy who watched Jesus take his five loaves and two small fishes and feed five thousand people with them? It's all so much different than focusing on myself! Praise be to God who grants us His grace and then gives back to us even more than we could ever ask or imagine!
I need to take a moment here to explain a few things for those who might be reading this and who do not know me personally. You might be thinking that this is an average time of year for me, however, this is not so. Last Friday was my fifth anniversary, or well, would have been my fifth anniversary. This Monday was my ex-husband's birthday and today is my birthday. We had planned it that way so we could share all of our joyful times together within just a few days.
A year and a half ago the divorce was final. Why did we get divorced? Ironically because he had an addiction - to pornography. Do I think how I am handling my addiction to food would have helped him? Yes, I really do believe that. Although he'd claimed to be a Christian, he'd only said the words. He was not able to humble his heart and really submit to God. He couldn't bear to give up his own desires and choose to focus on God instead.
His chose his own pleasure over anyone else's, including God's and mine, and ended up looking to another woman for happiness. I pray that someday God will lead him to understand exactly what his heart is searching for and how only God can fill that hole he seeks to fill with pornography.
The reason I shared this is that I think it's important for you to know that out of all the weeks of the year, this past one would probably be the most trying for me. And yet, through it all, I have had a deep, abiding peace because I have found the rest, the Sabbath-rest, spoken of in Hebrews 4:9-11. "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience." That rest comes when we humble our hearts, admit our helplessness, and fall on the mercy and grace of our loving Lord who gave His live for us!
For some reason today I have been thinking about the term gluttony. I know that many classify it as a sin, but the Bible really doesn't speak of it. In the New International Version, it is mentioned only once in a verse in Proverbs. So, is gluttony really a sin? I am convinced that it is not the actual eating God sees as sinful, but the attitude behind it. God always looks to the heart when He sees us. He sees our intentions, the deep motivations that drive us - and He knows whether we eat to live or live to eat.
This morning on the drive to school, God impressed Philippians 3:18-21 on my mind. "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." The phrase, "their god is their stomach" slapped me right in the face!
I couldn't believe it! Was God telling me that I had been making food my god??? I was appalled! Indignant! Offended at the very suggestion! Me? No way! Not me! I loved God and would never do that to Him or so I thought. After a few minutes of incensed tirade, my spirit began slowly to grow quiet, reminding me of the men with the stones slowly dropping from their hands as they slipped away after Jesus had said, "Let the one without sin cast the first stone." A shame washed over me, guilt for what I knew deep down was true. I had allowed food to become a god to me; it ruled my waking hours; it commanded me where to go; it ordered me when to eat; it demanded my allegiance.
As I looked further into this passage, I saw that allowing my stomach to be the god of my life that was pulling all the strings, I was actually putting myself in opposition to the true God who I wanted to love. I was setting my mind on earthly things and forgetting where my citizenship truly is. Once again I had no choice but to throw myself on the mercy of my loving God and confess my sinfulness at allowing my stomach to take precedence over Him. And as always, He grace-fully picked me up and urged me to continue my journey.
I can't really emphasize enough the difference between self-contempt and humbly confessing your sins. Self-contempt keeps us from experiencing the grace of God that covers over our sins and declares us righteous because of our faith in Him. The two can't exist together. As long as you hold on to your right to contemptuously degrade yourself instead of accepting God's forgiveness, you will not be able to experience His incredible grace.
It could be that some who are reading this don't really have an understanding of what grace is. I don't think I really understood it until just a few years ago. To understand what grace really is, you have to first believe with all your heart that you are a sinner. In today's world where everyone wants to "feel good" about themselves, the idea of being a wretched sinner is strongly discouraged by the "mental health professionals". But OAM believes that this is precisely why people are more mentally unhealthy than ever before in history and I think what I am going through right now is proof that God's way is so much better than anything a man could think up.
I know there may be skeptics out there who have read what I have put down so far, but I am telling you that there has been a major change in my eating. Today I went out for lunch with my mom and could actually see the difference. Instead of devouring everything on my plate quickly, eagerly looking at the dessert menu before my mom was even half done, I ate some but then I surprised myself when I pushed my plate away after eating only half of it. I didn't think about doing it; I just did it. I guess I was full and didn't feel the need to eat more.
It really amazes me at how this is working. You are probably thinking that my eating habits and diet are on my mind all the time because I'm talking about them here. This is not true, though. I have not really thought much about it at all, and my life has gone on pretty much like usual. The only real changes have been in my heart. In submitting my will to His, He has given me a joy that I just can't hide. My heart is lighter and the peace inside is utterly incredible. I feel so humbly confident, not in my own self or my own abilities, but in my wonderful Lord who is the only true source of strength.
I'd like to clarify something in case I've been obscure about one thing so far. Although I may be choosing my foods a bit more carefully, I am not in any way whatsoever feeling deprived. I am eating much the same foods as I have before, including desserts, but the amount I have been eating for this past week or so has drastically decreased. In other words, I am feeling satisfied by much less than I used to need to feel only moderately satisfied. This is the miracle of God. He is the one behind it, not I.
Okay, so, I stepped on the scales again this morning and saw 237. That was a nice sight to see. I asked God if that was my vanity creeping in, to want to see the numbers go down, and He impressed on me that it wasn't as long as I was keeping things in perspective. I was reminded of a quote I once read by C.S. Lewis, "For it must be true, as an old writer says, that he who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only." As long as I remember that the only thing that matters is the state of my heart before God, the numbers are a bonus that I am seeing. It is not the numbers I am focused on, but the God who loves me. If I see no change in the numbers, I will still be satisfied with this because it has caused my heart to fall more into alignment with my God's will. Nothing else matters.
This whole thing is
amazing me still, though. I know for certain that God is all-powerful.
I know He has the ability to make the pounds melt away. But I also am
well aware that He is not going to force us to stop sinning. Will this
work for anyone? Yes, but only if they decide to truly humble themselves
before our holy and perfect God and confess their sin of choosing their
own pleasure over pleasing God. This is the key that will free people
from their addictions
no other way will give them the type of freedom
I have experienced for over a week now. Absolutely nothing can truly free
someone from the bondage of living for ourselves -- only confession of
our sins and willingness to submit our hearts under the authority of God
Almighty. May this be a lesson I always remember!
You might have noticed that it's been a week since I wrote. One might assume that this is because there has been nothing out of the ordinary to write about, but that is not the case. A large portion of me has wanted to write, but my schedule has just not permitted it.
But I do have to confess that a small portion of me was glad to have the excuse not to write. Of course, that is the portion of me that has been fuel by pride and vanity, knowing that in writing what this week has held I will be exposing myself and my fallen nature even further than I have had to so far. Yet this is what God is calling me to do so I guess it's time to swallow my pride and just do it.
Some of the week has indeed been uneventful, but of course, not all of the week. On Tuesday God and I had a bit of a falling out. Well, I guess it wasn't really God AND me - it was really just me. I am coming to the conclusion that this conquering addiction thing is a joint effort between God and myself. He's made a lot of changes in me since I started putting pleasing Him before pleasing myself, however, it appears He wants me to do my part as well. He's made my stomach feel full faster; He's reduced my cravings for things that are bad for me; and He's given my self-control quite a boost. But He's not done in my life yet.
Tuesday after school, I was hungry. This, most likely, was because I'd been busy on the weekend and not thought ahead to the week so I hadn't gone to the grocery store to get things for my lunch for the week. Tuesday came and grades were due and I was in a hurry so I grabbed a quick and too light breakfast, with a similar lunch as well. I kicked myself for not having prepared for the day by providing for my body's needs (more on that in a bit), but that didn't change my situation. Here I was, after school, and my tummy felt like it hadn't eaten in years.
I have a fifteen minute drive home from school and the entire fifteen minutes were me complaining to God how hungry I was and how I had to go with my mother to the chiropractor so I wouldn't be able to eat for another hour and a half and how I really felt He needed to let me have something to tide me over. (Isn't it funny when we start feeling like we have to tell God what is best for us? Like He doesn't already know!) By the time the gas station came up, my mind had been made up and not by God. I had to stop because I needed to gas up my car; that much was fact. What wasn't fact was that I felt I "needed" this brownie and a pop. I pleaded with God. I reminded Him of how hungry I was. I told Him how good I'd been for the past week or so. I recounted the little I'd had for breakfast and lunch and told Him surely this would justify my eating this brownie and the pop. The answer He gave me was no. Again, He reminded me that it wasn't a matter of WHAT I was eating, but whether I was going to choose my own pleasure over pleasing Him. This is the God who created the world out of nothing! This is the God who parted the Red Sea! This is the God who rose from the dead! Did I really think He wasn't able to provide for me?
Well, I made my choice. I chose my own pleasure over pleasing Him. Yes, the brownie still tasted good. Yes, the pop still went down fine. But they laid in my stomach like a rock, continuously pointing to the state of my spirit. I confessed my sin. I confessed, not a sin of eating a brownie, but the sin of a haughty spirit, putting my own desires before what God has told me was right.
Wednesday presented a similar challenge. Once again I was hungry at school because I'd not prepared well. I had only had a small breakfast because the staff was going to have pizza for lunch. Lunch was later than normal and I felt that the only way I was going to make it was to find something, somewhere to eat to ease the pangs in my stomach.
This helped me to start realizing something about my part in this whole thing. God does indeed help us when we call to Him, but we should not expect Him to do things we are perfectly capable of. Jesus provided for the 5,000 because there was no food available for them. If Maurice's catering service would have been there to feed that group, Jesus wouldn't have had to do the miracle. God doesn't do miracles when we have the ability to do it ourselves. That is superfluous. God's power is only manifested in doing what we are totally incapable of doing. The people of Israel could never have parted the Red Sea. In fact, this is what makes a miracle really a miracle that we cannot do it ourselves.
And that is what God is working on in my life. He is providing me with the miracle of doing the things in my life that I cannot do on my own. On my own, I cannot walk down the candy aisle at Kroger's without getting something sweet. This is where God has stepped in to work in my life.
Yet what about my part? It is MY part NOT to go down the candy aisle. I think a lot of times people who are caught up in an addiction, whether it be eating, pornography, smoking, working, whatever, are often not wise. We often put our own selves in positions where the temptation is and then get upset with God that He didn't provide a way out. For instance, as I mentioned before, smart grocery shoppers know not to go grocery shopping when they are hungry. It causes you to buy many things on impulse that you wouldn't have bought otherwise. MY part is to make certain that I don't walk into a grocery store when I am hungry.
My part of this last week? I should have shopped over the weekend to make certain I had good ingredients for the meals I would need this week. When I didn't do that, I basically disrespected my body. Bodies need food to work properly. You don't expect a car to run without gas and you can't expect your body to work without food. God has given me this body as a gift. I need to make certain I please Him with it by treating it respectfully. In not providing the proper meals for my body's needs, I was ignoring it and by doing so, I was really being disrespectful to God as well, since He was the one who gave me the gift.
I will be perfectly
honest with you. The scale has gone up and down this week, ending this
morning at the same place it was this time last week, 237. Part of me
was disappointed, but I had to keep reminding myself that this whole thing
is not about what the scale says. It is all about my spiritual condition.
God is teaching me and testing me. Will I be humble and willing to accept
His instruction? God expects me to be a good steward of what He has provided
me with, and frankly, I've messed up big time this past week. My pride
just keeps popping up at the most inopportune times. Sometimes it seems
that the more I confess my sin of pride, the more of it I see to confess.
I guess it's just good that my God's grace covers those imperfections
of mine, rather like a cast covers the broken bones in a leg until it
has time to heal and become what it should be. May His grace cover me
until I become the person He wants me to be!
I'm not quite sure how (or perhaps why) I didn't include this in yesterday's writing. This was probably THE most important event this past week in my life. I had intended on it being the major subject of my writing yesterday, but when I got into things, I completely forgot about it. Could be that my pride didn't want to have to take yet another blow. Oh, well, grin and bear it. :o)
Wednesday I went to the dentist. That's not at all an unusual thing for a person to do. Since I had to teach all day, I scheduled the appointment for as soon after school as I could, 3:30, because I also had a doctor's appointment that afternoon at 4:45 in a town that was 20 minutes away. The dentist had to put in a filling so he numbed the half of my mouth he had been working on. He did a great job in quickly and efficiently completing the filling in enough time for me to reach my doctor's appointment on time.
By the time I got home from the doctor's, it was 5:30 and, as I said yesterday, because I had not planned my week well grocery shopping-wise, both breakfast and lunch had been substandard and pretty much a matter of "what can I grab quickly out of the cupboard". (Something I think I need to insert here for those who may not know me personally. A little over a year ago, I caught the flu - or at least that's what I thought it was. For several weeks I was so fatigued that I could not be up for more than two to three hours at a time. Much of the fatigue has still lingered, although now I can make an entire day at school before I collapse with fatigue. This is why the mistake I made of both appointments on the same day was not a good thing for me. Normally I have to rest after school before I can do any other activity and weekends are limited to one major activity on Saturday and one on Sunday, such as grocery shopping or doing laundry. It has been a difficult year, yet one in which the Lord has taught me many things. However, I'm more than ready to be done with this illness!)
Because of my fatigue, I knew that although I was hungry, the time and energy it would take to fix supper was just more than I could deal with that night. I decided to stop and get a Subway sandwich on my way home from the doctor's. I felt like God was telling me to just lay down for a bit before I ate anything, but I was pretty hungry and the sandwich was sitting there, beckoning my name. Once again, I ignored what I believe God was trying to tell me and I disobeyed. Although half of my mouth was numb, I was trying so very hard to be cautious about it while I chewed with the other side. I really felt I was doing a pretty good job of it that is, until the numbness started wearing off.
Oh, my goodness! I had chewed my bottom lip to pieces and hadn't even felt it because it was numb! As the numbness wore off, the lip swelled bigger and bigger and the abrasions on the inside became more and more painful. I put ice on it as much as I could and rinsed it carefully with antiseptic, feeling foolish at what a dumb thing I'd done! I'd sacrificed the well-being of my bottom lip, all for a sandwich.
The next morning I woke and ran to the mirror, but the swelling had not decreased at all during the night. I had to go to school and face my students, looking like I'd been in a brawl! Once again, my pride was exposed and my disobedience as well. I am so glad God's a patient teacher. I think after trying to teach someone a lesson as many times as God has been trying to teach me about humbling myself I'd give up if they hadn't learned by now! I'm grateful He hasn't given up on me!
And so, for the past few days, my painful, swollen lip has been a constant reminder to me that God knows what He's doing and we just need to listen to Him. When we start doing things our own way, we're sure to get ourselves into trouble even when we think we're being REALLY careful. It only goes to show us that we can never really be sure of the consequences of our actions. Spiritually, we are all "numb" because of our sinful nature. We really don't know what we are doing to ourselves, how we are hurting ourselves or others by what we do. This is why we have to rely 100% on what God has told us to do, whether it is what we want to do or not. God says not to lie for a reason. God tells us not to covet what our neighbors have for a reason. Whether we can see the reason or not, we always have to follow Him.
all, this is what real faith is
following Him when we can't see a
reason. If we only followed His commands when we could see the hows and
whys, well, then, we wouldn't have faith. Faith comes from believing what
God says even when it doesn't make sense. I sure hope I can start getting
some of this through my thick head and heart. Sometimes these lessons
are kind of painful!
I guess it is far past time for an update on how things are going. I will confess to you that the summer did not produce the type of fruit in my life I'd hoped. I spent a month and a half with the Pares and didn't really do a good job in regards to this area. However, the Lord was not going to let me off this easy. When I got home, He renewed the surgery He wanted to do on my heart and my body. After a few very humbling sessions of the Holy Spirit's conviction, the Lord and I began again.
When dealing with the addiction I have, I must realize that my normal nature will be to choose satisfying my own desires instead of choosing what pleases God. Breaking an addiction is not easy. It is not something (for most of us at least) that happens all at once. There will be successes and there will be failures. But after all that I've been through this summer and up until now, I am more convinced than before that what I have set down in the above article is the way God wants us to approach the things in our lives, whatever they may be, that seek to trap us and keep us from seeking to please God in all we do.
Here is the update. Since August 8, I have lost 40 pounds. When I sit down to eat, I can really, truly say that I am satisfied with considerably smaller amounts than I have ever been before. I have not at all increased my activities (I am still fighting the fatigue I have now had for almost 2 years) so this means that these 40 pounds have been completely due to eating considerably less.
I used to have a real problem when I would finally lose weight because I would sabotage myself and end up binging and putting it all back on. This was another thing I had to confess as sin before God. Binging like that was my way of putting myself in control again. That would be a lack of trust in God's goodness and my wanting to rely on my own efforts and my own wisdom above His. As long as I will not humble my heart and confess this behavior as sin and as trying to set myself up as the god of my own life, I eat too much and the downward spiral into myself begins. The only way out is to confess my sin and reestablish my focus on the God who created me, giving Him the proper place in my life.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul reminds us that we are new creations and that the old things are gone and the new is here. This is how my spirit feels. The old routine of diet, binge, self-condemnation, then depression has gone. It is in the past and I do not foresee it returning. The old clothes are hanging on me and it is time for new ones. The old has gone, the new is here. He is faithful if we will submit our hearts to His control. He really does know what He's doing in our lives.
This is a piece of encouragment to those who are like me. I went through a time this winter where spiritually I was rather lukewarm. I had gotten away from reading my Bible and I'd been sick on a few weekends so I was not able to make it to church on a regular basis. And my heart closed up, deciding to do its own thing again. My weight? Stayed the same.
But now, as I've forced myself to get back into the Word and my health has improved a bit so I am able to get back to church more, the weight has started to go again. One other thing I've found. I still need accountability in my life. When I was losing so much, I was writing down everything I ate, to keep a running track of the calories. I guess I started thinking that I was okay with it all and that I had learned enough of what was good to eat and what wasn't so I didn't need to write things down (to be accountable anymore). Smiles....and that would be that pride raising its ugly head yet again!
I need to face that this is an area of my life that I am weak in. If I give myself half a chance, I will always stumble. And because of this, I must never assume that I can handle it by myself. My suggestion if you are trying to deal with an addiction? I have 3 of them, actually.
1. Surround yourself with other committed brothers and sisters in Christ. It's easier to be strong and focused on Christ when you are with others who love Him too.
2. Make sure you are reading your Bible and praying daily. This is the bread we should be living on. When our life is too busy for God, we are indeed headed for trouble!
3. Find a way to be accountable to someone or something during all of your struggle. Keep a journal of your own where you pour out your heart to God and where you know you'll make yourself write your failures when you have them. We don't like to face our failures, but it is important to do so in order to be able to move on.
My story is not ended yet, and might never end until the Lord's return. When my heart is right with Him, the addiction has little or no pull on me at all. When pride is in control, I will always succumb to the temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:12 "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"
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