May 13, 2013 by Kara Nichols
It is a wonderfully provocative and deeply spiritual experience
to deliberately turn your back on a problem in order to face God in exaltation.
Lift your eyes and exult in Him. The situation may not have changed
but you have become different. What we behold, we become.
– Graham Cooke
When I first read this quote last Saturday night I immediately thought of my battle with my fluctuating waistline. I thought, “Yes! I want to turn my back on this problem so I can face God in exaltation. Sign me up!”
Then I remembered Galatians 5:1, which says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
I’ve been a slave to food. Both when I felt pride over making really healthy food choices and also when I felt disgusted with myself for eating something “bad” or eating too much.
How would it look to be set free from my dysfunctional relationship with food and my body?
The first place I started was hiding my scale. It has power over me if there’s a weight gain OR a loss. Too much power over my emotions and thoughts. I’ve never been able to weigh myself objectively. Can anyone? And how important is that number to the quality of my life, to the quality to my relationship with God?
Secondly, I decided to not count any points/calories.Often times I find myself obsessing over this. Counting can dictate whether or not I have a good or bad day. I’ve been in tears before after going over my points in Weight Watchers. Do you see what I see? Too much power being lent to something that has no heavenly purpose. Will any of us be counting our calories in heaven? No, but will be facing God in exaltation, like the quote above says.
I also I decided not to speak of weight loss or of being fat, except for these blogs. I hate conversations that end up talking about the latest diet craze. I mostly hate them because it usually ends up with me buying into it and ordering something off of Amazon.com. Take for example, the chia seeds and goji berries that sit unused in my cupboards. Every time I open my cupboard I feel guilty for not using them and I feel like I’m failing some test that in reality, no one is giving me. I’m not saying that swapping recipes or trying new things is bad for everyone, but if you are anything like me it makes you feel a little crazy. I want off of the carousel.
Finally, and probably the most difficult for me, is to not think about weight loss, weight gain, being fat, not having the perfect body, or comparing myself to other people. This is where Matthew 6:25-27 come into play. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
No doubt God put that verse in Scripture with me in mind. With today’s world in mind. Satan is using the distraction of diets and weight loss or even weight gain for some, to confuse us and take over our thoughts. He wants us to miss out on the blessing of not worrying about our bodies. He wants us to be consumed with every morsel of food that goes in our body because you know what happens when we act like that? We lose our focus on Jesus. I don’t have extra time during the day to praise Him. I’m too busy fussing about my jeans being too tight or how to cook a paelo dinner.
Jesus wasn’t kidding when he told us to not worry about what we eat or drink or about our body. From His point of view it must look so sad, that so many people are slaves to food. Now, don’t get bent out of shape, I’m not advocating for anyone to stop eating healthy or working out. Those are great things, but I’m addressing those of us who are trapped in Satan’s lies and the world’s standards that we must be thin to be of value. That the latest diet craze is going to be “the one” that solves all of our problems. Remember the verse in 1 Samuel that says that “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” If God doesn’t care about our outward appearance, why do I? It’s vastly more important to Him that our minds are clear and focused on Him and His Word. And yet I struggle to go 10 minutes without thinking about diets or food or my body.
This life is so much more than a fad diet. But I learned as a young girl that behaving well on a diet got me love from my mother. She had the best of intentions, no doubt, but it was deeply ingrained in my heart that unless you had ultimate health, or an ultimate body, you were not good enough. Once, when I was about 7, she measured my thighs in order to track any weight loss. While I was certainly a few pounds overweight I was not obese. I wanted to perform for my mother. I wanted that special attention I got when I did good on a diet. When I was older my parents tried to pay me to lose weight. It only made my rebellious side come out more and I started to gain. It’s too long ago to hold a grudge, at least outwardly. Inwardly I look back of some of the things that happened in my childhood and think “No wonder I have a problem with food. It was instilled in me at a young age.”
But what can I say about the weight that I’ve gained as an adult? No one shoved food down my throat. I remember a few years ago when I was living in Oregon and things were going downhill for me in general but most specifically with Andy. There were days that I would buy pieces of cake from the grocery store, along with some candy bars, and eat them in the car on the way home, telling no one. I guess it was comfort food. But also I was eating out of fear and anxiety. I wasn’t following Jesus at that point and was feeling very alone. Food was my best friend and worst enemy. I loved it, I hated it.
These days I have been trying my luck Weight Watchers. I’ve lost 18 pounds. Before you congratulate me, know that while modifying my food intake works for awhile, eventually I slip back into old habits of just eating whatever I want, whenever I want — especially when I’m sad, happy, angry, anxious, you get the idea. But the Lord has really been challenging me to look at weight loss from His perspective. Especially that I would spend more time with Him instead of thinking about and talking about diets and weight loss.
So far hiding the scale, not talking about diets or thinking about them, and avoiding counting points/calories has gone really well. (It’s been less than 48 hours) I was shocked initially by how often I thought about it. But I tried, and was mostly successful, to squelch those thoughts quickly and I’d think about God instead. I obviously couldn’t do it without God and the Holy Spirit’s intervention. I feel the need to bulk up in my prayer and Bible study because I know that Satan isn’t going to release his grip on this part of my life easily.
This is the second installment of a series called Let Her Eat Cake. The first installment can be found here.