“I had to get honest enough to admit that I relied on food more than I relied on God. I craved food more than I craved God. Chocolate was my comfort and deliverer. Cookies were my reward. Salty chips were my joy. Food was what I turned to in times of stress and sadness…even in times of happiness. I knew it was something God was challenging me to surrender to His control. Really surrender. Surrender to the point where I’d make radical changes for the sake of my spiritual health–perhaps even more than my physical health. Part of my surrender was asking myself a really raw question. May I ask you this same question? Is it possible we love and rely on food more than we love and rely on God?” (Made to Crave Devotional, Lysa TerKeurst, page 107)
The honest answer is unequivocally yes.
I have loved food more than I have loved God. And that is an extremely humbling admission to make. I have washed out all of the work of God in my life and placed food on a pedestal. Happy, sad, mad, glad? Let’s eat. Bored, frustrated, procrastinating, celebrating? Let’s check the fridge.
Does this have to remain the case? No. Does it still happen? Not going to lie–occasionally.
So what has changed?
I had a pretty brutal wake up call from God through the voice of the Holy Spirit. I think I mentioned this before, but when listening to God speak, I don’t necessarily have an audible conversation coming back at me–but there have been three times in my life where I have unmistakably heard the voice of God, the third being on January 23 while sitting at this very desk in my office throwing myself another pity party on how miserable I was, how hard it is to lose weight, and my general unhappiness with the world.
I don’t know a lot of things in life, but I am learning this: I am made for victory.
Does that mean every day will be sunshine and roses? Nope (thank goodness, I thought I was doing it wrong!). What it does mean is that I have had to take a hard look inside myself and see the muck and the mire that has built up around my heart. Have I been a terrible person? Of course not! I have lived a “good” life–trying to be “good” to please God and share Jesus with others. Admirable things–but going about it all the wrong way. In my selfish pursuit of being a good Christian, of being a good pastor, I have let my own walk with God suffer. I needed to be shown that in a very real way. I needed to be reminded that it’s not about the things I do or the personal victories I have that show the way to Christ, it is by living in a deep, intimate, and honest relationship with God that people will see Christ in me. By living what I thought was a “good” life, I was blinded by the very clear sin in my life of compulsive eating and negative self abuse that had become two idols that got a whole lot more worship than God ever did.
I didn’t believe it at first, that I am made for victory. Truth be told, I didn’t think I was worth it. Even more honesty, I still struggle with that idea on a daily, even momentary basis. I first had to acknowledge this sin of idolatry in my life, to understand the grasp that it held over me and the separation from God that it caused me. I had to ask God for forgiveness. Forgiveness in a lot of ways and for a lot of different things–and I’m not going to drag out that list–but I had to open myself up to the point of sheer rawness, exposing all I had done to myself to damage God’s creation. I had to accept God’s forgiveness. That’s a tough one, because my sin tells me I’m unworthy of God’s forgiveness. I had to learn to tell Satan’s schemes in my mind to take a hike and constantly reiterate the basic fact that I am forgiven of my sin.
But the story doesn’t end there.
No action comes without positive or negative consequence. I have to clean up the wreckage of my past. Yes, I am absolutely and undoubtedly forgiven of my sin, but something has to change so I don’t fall back into the same sin again. I’m not immune. And that’s where we’re at today…almost eight months into this journey. I’ve made a lot of radical changes in my pursuit of a deeper relationship with God. I have worked to change my lifestyle, my eating habits, my sedentary ways, my negative self talk, and my spiritual disciplines to be meaningful and not rote. I’ve had a lot of success. Is my work done? No. It will remain a lifetime of work pursuing God and His will for my life. However, that truth–I am made for victory–is a motivator, an encouragement, a consoling promise, and a truth to stand on when I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels some days.
This journey isn’t about diet, exercise, self improvement–all things I engage in to better my holistic health–it is doing what is right and pleasing in God’s sight. My goals aren’t aligned to “beat” another person or gain any type of acclaim. My sole goal is to claim the victory that is promised me through Christ and enjoy the peace and joy in my soul that is so unimaginably amazing that I never have even had concept of before. One day at a time. One moment at a time. One breath at a time. I simply wait in awe of what God’s going to do next–because He’s already surpassed my wildest dreams. Talk about living life in new territory! But that’s another topic for another day…