We just got hit with a massive snowstorm here in Colorado! I awoke to 10 inches of snow on the ground and another 2 inches have fallen in the last 3 hours alone. It didn’t look like it was going to let up anytime soon, so I headed out to shovel our driveway and sidewalk. After 45 minutes of shoveling a foot of heavy snow, giant snow banks had formed on either side of my driveway. I had to lift my arms higher and higher to dump a new shovelful of snow.
After a while, I noticed a phenomenon happening. Each time I brought a shovelful of snow and dumped it on top of the ever-growing snowbanks, a little ball of snow would fall from the top of the mound. It would roll and roll, growing bigger and bigger, until it got all the way back to my driveway. Before I knew it, my driveway was full of these snowballs and I had to work even harder to shovel them out of the way. It was so exhausting and discouraging!
It got me thinking about how we often have snowballs in our Thin Within journey as well. Unchecked sin, guilt, or disobedient actions that grow and grow until we are so discouraged we can barely move. I affectionately call this the “Snowball Effect.”
Can you relate to the scenario below?
You begin the day with the best of intentions. You read your Thin Within material, pray, renew your mind in God’s Word in the morning and set out to eat from 0-5 all day. At lunch, you have a few bites too many. “Uh-oh….dang it! Why’d I do that?! I wasn’t even thinking or paying attention to my meal!” The next thing you know it’s 2pm and those chocolate truffles on the counter are calling your name. “Well, I’m not at a 0, but I guess a few truffles can’t hurt…” By the time dinner happens, a seed of frustration has begun blossoming in your thoughts and emotions. “Why did I eat those truffles? Now I’m not even hungry for dinner but my whole family is ready to eat. I’ve already blown it today, I guess I’ll just eat dinner even though I’m not hungry. Heck, maybe I’ll even have a second helping.” After dinner, the frustration, guilt, shame and condemnation ramp up even more. “I can’t believe I messed up today so badly! What is my problem? Why can’t I do this thing? I’ll never be able to lose weight. Today has been such a disaster. I guess I’ll finish off those truffles.“
Do you see how a few bites too many at lunch suddenly lead to eating an entire box of truffles + dinner + a second helpings outside of 0-5 boundaries? How the heck did that even happen?
Guilt and shame are powerful. If left in our hearts and minds too long, they fester. They distort our thinking and make us do things we never intended to do. I often think of King David in this cycle. A lustful glance at Bathsheba suddenly turned into a giant snowball of sin that lead to adultery and murder. I’m sure David, a man after God’s own heart, never would have guessed he was capable of such things.
We too allow unchecked guilt, shame and condemnation dictate our future actions. In the scenario above, a few extra bites of food at lunch produced a healthy response of “uh-oh!” However, allowing that “uh-oh!” to slowly morph into major guilt and shame which then dictated the rest of the day’s eating is not what we’re after. This type of pattern can snowball into an entire day, week or month of eating beyond what we know our bodies are truly calling for. It’s a discouraging cycle to be in. But it need not last for long! There is hope! There is a different response we can choose.
There are two very powerful ways to melt the snowball:
1) Confess & Repent
2) Observe & Correct
Confession and Repentance are powerful. After we are sinful or disobedient, we have the freedom to go straight to the throne of God and get it off our chest before our guilt pushes into further disobedience. In the scenario above, if we had immediately gone to God and confessed that we broke our boundaries at lunch, we could have immediately received His loving grace which would have prevented the cycle of guilt and condemnation to push us into further disobedience as the day went on. That snowball of guilt and shame wouldn’t have had the time to build any momentum. Hebrews 10:22 assures us that we are washed clean, ready to begin again with a refreshed perspective, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Proverbs 28:13 says “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” There is no need to hang on to your sin or dwell on how you messed up! Bring it to God, allow His grace and forgiveness to wash over you, brush yourself off and keep pressing on! God never demands perfection from us. He knows we will all mess up even with the best of intentions. But confessing those moments and repenting of our sinful actions allow us to continue on in persistence without the shame or guilt nipping at our heels.
I personally LOVE how the Observation and Correction tool in Thin Within complements Confession and Repentance so well. After we have gone to God and received His loving grace, we have the opportunity to Observe and Correct. Simply take a look at your behavior, thoughts or emotions that contributed to your initial “mess-up” and observe what was going on. Refuse to beat yourself up over it. Refuse to rehash it over and over and over. Refuse to condemn yourself. Simply observe what happened objectively. Make note of what was going on in your circumstances or what emotions were at play.
After we Observe, it’s important to apply a Correction. Proverbs 24:2 says “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.” Exactly! It is vital to apply a lesson from what we observe. It is not enough to just observe. If we just observe and observe and observe, the only thing that will happen is a heightened awareness of our flaws which can potentially lead to further guilt or shame. Observing “I was greedy at lunch and wanted a second helping” or “I felt obligated to eat the piece of pie Aunt Kay offered” is great! Then it is crucial to follow it up with an appropriate Correction like “next time I can thank Aunt Kay and ask her if I can take the pie home with me”. Often I will ask myself this question: “If I was in the exact same scenario tomorrow, what can I do differently to alter the outcome?” It’s so important to give ourself this opportunity to think through how we might change our thoughts or actions so that we can be better prepared next time!
Let’s not forget that there is transformative power to be found in God’s grace. We have access to it anytime we need. Guilt and shame need not fester and snowball out of control! His mercy can melt a snowball of sin, guilt or condemnation in 2 seconds flat. A heart that Confesses, Repents, Observes and Corrects is a heart that is primed for victory!
How about you? Can you relate to a mounting cycle of shame/sin/guilt/condemnation? Do you have a growing snowball in your Thin Within journey that needs a little melting? Do you regularly confess, repent, observe and correct when you have broken a boundary? Don’t let these “common” practices grow dull in your walk with Christ or your Thin Within journey!
My sister got married a few years ago at a beautiful log home in the mountains of Colorado. The morning of the big day, we had all the bridesmaids over for breakfast while we had our hair and makeup done. We had a huge spread- croissants, danishes, muffins, coffee cake, mimosas, fruit, cheese, coffee and of course, donuts. The spread took over the entire kitchen counter, it was huge!
I walked over to it with another bridesmaid who is a naturally thin woman. We both grabbed plates and began looking over the mountain of food in front of us. I reached for danishes, fruit and a plethora of other goodies. Then I glanced over at the other bridesmaid. She had grabbed a couple of pieces of cheese and put them on her plate and was walking away. “That’s all you want to have?!?” I asked, utterly bewildered. She shrugged, smiled and said “Yeah! It’s all I need right now!“
She ate what her body needed at the time. Her want and need aligned perfectly. The concept of wanting more than that was completely foreign to her. Her need was her want.
For so many of us, our wants go far beyond our bodily needs.
Our wants rise up in us and take over, hence the meals we eat from 0-8 or 2-6. Our wants are fueled by unhealthy, unaddressed and sinful emotions, attitude and thought patterns. My want is a greedy, gluttonous, prideful, entitled, rebellious little creature. It’s a monster, really. A WantMonster.
WantMonsters take over meals, crash through our Thin Within boundaries without a second thought and keep us wrapped up in bondage. They wreak havoc on good intentions. They are often the reason we just can’t seem to stick with Thin Within. They blaze through dinner at 90mph and leave us dumbfounded at the end of the day, wondering what in the heck happened to maintaining 0-5 boundaries.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to tame the WantMonster. How exactly should we go about subduing such a wild creature that seems so unpredictable at times? I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about this, shall we?
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.“-Romans 8:5
“He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.“-Luke 11:2-4
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.“-Ephesians 4:21-23
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”- Galations 5:16
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.“-Galations 5:24-25
“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”-Matthew 26:41
I’m noticing a bit of a theme here. When we pray and are Spirit lead, we have God’s help out of the sinful nature that holds us back. We can’t expect to tame the WantMonster on our own. No amount of effort on our parts is going to get us anywhere. But, when we pray and are filled with the Holy Spirit’s power, we have the power to overcome the flesh.
What does this look like practically? For me personally, this often looks like praying each morning against the things that I know will try and feed the WantMonster. I pray against pride. I pray against entitlement. I pray against temptation (Jesus taught us how to do this!). I pray against distraction, excuses I might tell myself to eat beyond a 5, complacency and rebellion. I have a list a mile long of things I pray about and against. I also ask for a fresh renewal of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life that day. I ask for the Spirit’s power to help me stay obedient to my godly boundaries.
This is a non-negotiable for me, I do it every day. And on those days where I don’t…well, wouldn’t you know…the WantMonster rises up and stampedes throughout almost every meal. It’s a correlation too strong to ignore. Without continued prayer about all this, the WantMonster grows. But, as I am faithful to pray about it and surrender my fleshly wants, God is faithful to help me. As I continue to seek Him, pray against my fleshly desires and ask for the Spirit’s leading…I notice more and more that my wants and my bodily needs align perfectly. I am not throwing a temper tantrum because it took so little food to satisfy me. I am not pouting because I can’t have a second helping at dinner. I am thankful, humble and grateful to eat what my body needs, not what my flesh cries out for. It’s a beautiful thing to tame the WantMonster!
How about you? Have you felt a WantMonster rising up in you? Do you often find your wants and your bodily needs don’t line up? Take some time to list out the emotions, attitudes and thought patterns that feed your WantMonster. Do an experiment and pray daily about these things. My guess is that God will show you a way to tame your wants in favor of obedience to your godly boundaries and bodily needs.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Acts 1:8
In 2012 my husband did something really crazy. He went on a 7 day bike tour all across Colorado called “Ride the Rockies.” It sounds like a lovely cruise through beautiful forests and rolling hills, doesn’t it? It was very beautiful, but was also a grueling event with 3500+ feet of elevation gain each day and often over 100 miles from one location to the next. The tour rode over mountain passes, above timberline where there is no oxygen and along long stretches of dirt road where every breath meant inhaling dirt and dust from the riders in front of you. It was hard just watching the riders do it, and I was simply there as a cheerleader!
As the tour progressed, a rumor started about a man who was “cheating.” You see, he built his own bicycle. And on it, he included a quiet little motor that helped propel him up hills. I saw him a handful of times. While other riders struggled for momentum while chugging up a 20 mile mountain pass, this man just breezed on by. His bike was still a bike. It required that he pedal and shift gears like any other bicycle, but he always had a little extra “help” along the way.
I’ve always thought that man’s invention was a beautiful metaphor for doing Thin Within while relying on the power of God.
I spent a solid 9 years of my Thin Within journey just trying to do Thin Within in my own effort, my own striving. Of course I prayed and wanted to honor God, but I was truly only relying on my own efforts. I became “Abigail the Achiever” (pg. 121, Thin Within). I thought if I just tried hard enough, stay focused enough, did “good” enough…I’d finally get this thing down. Ironically, the more I tried, the more I fell flat on my face! Sure, I could get a solid week or two of 0-5 eating under my belt. But eventually, the effort became too much. I would become weary. I would start to give in to breaking my boundaries little by little. And before I knew it, I was completely off the course.
A few years ago, I learned a beautiful truth. We don’t have to be self-propelled through this journey like a cyclist pedaling his way up a mountain pass under his own power. When we submit to God’s power and invite the Holy Spirit to work through us and help us, suddenly we become more like the rider on the motorized bike! Sure, we need to pedal some and put a little effort into it, but ultimately God is propelling us with a quiet little motor called the Holy Spirit. He takes us out of our self-sufficient striving and into a place of power and victory!
God’s power is a powerful force to be reckoned with. And so much of that power is made available to us if we’ll just confess our weakness, surrender our striving and invite His power to work through us! “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms“-Ephesians 1:18-20.
Did you catch that? He has called us into His power. The same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the heavenly realms. And that power is made available to me? To us? Well sign me up, I’m in! I don’t know about you, much I would much rather lean on a greater power than what I can offer myself through self-sufficiency.
So you might be wondering, what exactly does it look like to rely on God’s power through my Thin Within journey? I’m glad you asked! 🙂 For me, it looks like coming before God each and every day and praying. I often confess my weakness (2Cor 12:9) and inability to maintain my boundaries in my own attempts. It involves praying before every meal, during each time I am tempted, every time I feel lead into indulgence or rebellion. It sometimes looks something like this:
“Father, I surrender my own efforts in favor of your perfect power. Carry me through the difficult moments of temptation today. Give me victory in the face of indulgence and gluttony. Help me to be mindful of my boundaries and give me the ability to stick to them. I know I can’t do this in my own effort. I surrender my striving and I ask that your Holy Spirit would overcome my desire to take control. Lead me through this day with the same power that raised Christ from the dead!”
And wouldn’t you know it…when I’m mindful of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to get me through, I feel like that cyclist on a motorized bike just breezing through with ease. 0-5 comes easily, temptation isn’t as strong, disobedience and rebellion are a distant memory and I am more fully convinced that God has equipped me for victory through the propulsion of His power, not mine.
How about you? Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut of just trying trying trying? Have you noticed that more often than not, you’re relying on your own efforts to maintain 0-5 boundaries? Give it a rest! Lay down your striving and rely on God to propel you forward!
I’m pretty sure my neighbors are grossed out by me.
The windows in our kitchens face each other. Occasionally, we both have our curtains pulled back and we can look directly into each other’s kitchens. I can’t count how many times they have must have witnessed me stand in front of my kitchen sink or trash can and spit out a mouthful of chewed up food. Gross, right?!
What they don’t know is that they’re witnessing obedience to the Lord in those gross moments. They’re catching me in act of proclaiming my freedom over food.
Like many people, “unconscious” eating is something that has plagued me through the years. It’s like my brain doesn’t register that I’m eating until I’m halfway through a bag of tortilla chips. The hardest things for me are the “little foxes” that sneak in so easily when I am cooking or doing the dishes after a meal. One minute I’m cooking chili, and the next minute I’m eating spoonfuls of it out of the pot in the name of “testing the recipe.” One minute I’m doing dishes, the next minute I’m eating the last piece of garlic bread so it “doesn’t go to waste.” I walk by the kitchen and grab one little cracker. Harmless, right? It’s just one little cracker….
I truly treasure the moments where I am able to catch myself in the act of breaking my boundaries. In the simple (and sometimes gross) act of spitting out the food, or removing the spoon from my mouth, I am able to return to obedience in the Lord.
In those moments, I am able to take my thoughts captive just as Paul says “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5. In this moment, I am able to say (often with the food still in my mouth) to myself ” STOP! What are you doing here Becky? Let’s evaluate. Is this what staying within my boundaries really looks like? Does the Lord delight in me swallowing this bite of food or in surrendering it to the trash can? Am I willing to give up this momentary bite of pleasure in exchange for freedom? Will I choose to honor God and my body by not eating this bite because I’ve already reached my 5?”
Catching myself in the act often looks like:
-Removing a spoonful of food that I’ve put in my mouth in the name of “tasting”
-Spitting out a mouthful of food the second I realize I am not within my 0-5 boundaries
-Pushing the chips and salsa away from me so it’s not within arm’s reach anymore
-Putting away the box of crackers so it is out of sight
-Putting the sandwich down, closing my mouth, lifting my eyes and saying “No, Lord. I will not eat outside of the boundaries you have set before me. In this moment, I chose to die to myself. I chose to honor and obey you.”
I often look just like this picture below when I catch myself in the act!
Catching myself in the act has almost become a discipline for me. It is a discipline of turning immediately from my disobedience. “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.” Ezekiel 18:30. God delights in our every effort to turn from our selfish ways as we choose to obey and return to Him. And I believe He honors even our smallest act of obedience. Every bite we surrender outside of our hunger is an act of worship and obedience that he delights in!
How about you? Have you “caught yourself in the act”? What does that look like for you? Do you have any stories of turning from rebellion to obedience? Have you seen the fruits of obedience in your life? How do you defeat temptation in the moment when you want one more bite?
I don’t know about you, but Thin Within has been immensely powerful in my life. Through this journey, I have found freedom and power, forgiveness and grace, the ability to demolish strongholds and the conviction to pursue obedience. Virtually every aspect of my walk with Jesus has deepened and has been strengthened. My Thin Within journey is sacred ground to me and I aim to protect it!
I think that often when God is up to something really big in our lives, when He is doing a NEW thing in us… Satan is also up to something. Satan is up to setting traps for us to fall into, manufacturing lies to whisper to us, creating scenarios that distract us and doing everything in his power to try and halt the progress. He will stop at almost nothing to try and get us off the path to victory.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1Peter 5:8
Notice that Peter doesn’t say the devil just dabbles around at trying to interfere or that he halfheartedly is looking to distract you every now and then. Nope. He is looking to devour us. To destroy our progress, to throw us back in bondage and to keep us from doing God’s will (2Tim 2:26). He is prowling around like a lion, looking for every opportunity he can to ensnare us and drag us back into a pit of bondage.
If you don’t know it yet, I have news for you: Satan doesn’t want you to experience victory in Thin Within. Because if you did, you might just continue to grow closer with Jesus and you might just find freedom and deliverance. And so, the devil will try every way he knows how to keep you from staying on the course God has set before you.
Ever wonder why you find yourself sliding back into old patterns or habits? Ever wonder why days go by where you just couldn’t seem to remember to pray or spend time reading your Bible? Ever wonder why you just keep finding yourself unconsciously eating in front of the TV and before you know it, you’re at a 7? Ever wonder why it’s so hard to shake distraction and just focus on Thin Within principles? Ever have a rotten day where everything went wrong and the only thing that seemed to help was coming home and binge eating your way through pizza and M&Ms? Ever feel tempted to just quit this whole 0-5 thing?
The devil is in all of that.
The devil is the author of all lies and deceit. He is the father of distraction, discouragement, self- sabotage, unhealthy patterns and bondage to sin. There is a method to his madness. And he’s not going to let up.
But the good news is that Jesus isn’t going to let up either! “Greater is He who is in you and he who is in the world.” 1John 4:4 We have nothing to fear!
We can combat the the devil because we have the power of the blood of Jesus Christ on our side. We are equipped to fight against the rulers of the darkness and to take on the spiritual armor of God so that we may stand against the devil and the “powers of this dark world” (Eph 6:12). The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace of the Gospel, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) are all available to us! Christ is victorious in the end- He will crush the devil under our feet (Romans 16:30)! In Ephesians 6:18, just after he talks about these dark forces at work against us, Paul tells us to pray in the Spirit at all times and to constantly be alert and persistent in our prayers.
And so my question is this…..are you taking the time and effort to diligently combat the work of the enemy in your life and your Thin Within journey? Are you praying against his traps, lies, tricks, distractions and schemes against you? Are you calling on the power of the Holy Spirit to fight with you and to equip you for battle? Are you living your life as if you’re in the midst of a great cosmic battle or are you just ho-humming your way from one day to the next? Are you ok with sitting passively on the sidelines as the enemy threatens to suck you back into bondage?
Believe me, I am the last person who is going to give the devil more credit than he is due. I am not ever willing to attribute more power to him than he deserves. I will never live my life in fear of him. But, I do know that he is real and that he really wants to see me fail as he wraps the chains of bondage around me again. And the only way to defeat him is through diligent prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Some of you may have picked up on the fact that Thin Within has been a part of my life for 11 years. In 3 of those years I walked in victory. In 7 of those years I was stuck in bondage, unable to break free no matter how hard I tried. And for the past 9 months I have found my path back into victory (thank you Jesus!!!!). I firmly believe that for the 7 years that I remained a slave to food and obsessive thoughts about weight/diets/body image/ eating etc., I was blinded from the fact that satan had chains wrapped around my legs.
One of the things that has helped me break free in the last 9 months has been bravely engaging in spiritual warfare. I pray against it every single day. Every day. It’s not something I just do when I feel him closing in. I am not reactive in my fight, I am proactive! There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not on guard and fighting hand to hand combat. It sounds scary, but it’s not…I promise. 🙂 It’s actually pretty simple, but incredibly powerful. I just pray something along the lines of:
“Lord Jesus, I ask for your protection over my heart, mind and body today as I resist the devil and his attempts to drag me back into bondage today. In your name Lord Jesus, I proclaim that I have power through the Holy Spirit to defeat strongholds and traps, lies and temptation. Thank you for the armor of God and I ask that you would empower me to wear it as I go out today and demolish everything that satan tries to put in my way. Go with me today and keep me alert as I fight for this journey with you Lord. In Christ’s name, Amen.”
And occasionally, I will quote Scripture at the devil. I do this especially when I can sense he is tempting me or trying to throw an obstacle in my way. I’ll let him know what his future is (hint: Jesus wins!) and I will let him know that I’m not giving in easily. If he wants to try and invade this sacred ground the Lord and I have cultivated through Thin Within, he is going to have to fight me for is because I will not give up easily!
If you’ve stuck with me through reading such a long blog post, my hope and desire is that your eyes will be opened to the power the lies in spiritual warfare. The Lord always fights on our behalf, but we too must keep our eyes open and remain vigilant to fighting this battle. As the enemy puts pressure on us, we can press further into our God.
How about you? Are you aware of the spiritual battles in your Thin Within journey? Can you sniff out satan’s attempts to halt your forward momentum and throw you off track? Are you ready to put on your armor? Are you willing to stand firm in Jesus as you fight together?
Thin Within has been a part of my life for the better part of eleven years now. I’ve had many ups and many downs. Each time I have started Thin Within, I have envisioned an “End.” Whether it’s a certain number I see on the scale, a size that I wear, or even just a place where I finally don’t always think about food and weight. There has always been a finish line in sight. A point that I hoped to reach where I could say “I finished! I did it!”, close my Thin Within book and I walk off into the sunset.
But, if you have spent the last 12 years entrenched in disordered thinking, believing and eating, you can’t always expect to be “cured” in 12 weeks. Real change is something that happens over time as God teaches us the beauty of obedience, boundaries, forgiveness and submission as He gently leads us on a path of wholeness.
Is our God a mighty Healer who can heal us from our sin and struggles with eating with just the snap of His fingers? Yes, absolutely! But is He maybe more interested in our healing process than the end result? Is He maybe more interested in our learning about surrender, confession, obeying boundaries and dying to ourself than He is in us releasing 20 pounds? Quite possibly.
I firmly believe that God uses Thin Within as a tool for sanctification in our lives. Sanctification is the process of being made more like Christ (1Thess 5:23). And guess what? Sanctification is not always pretty or easy. And it doesn’t always happen overnight, just like how we don’t always “get” Thin Within overnight or release 20 pounds in 12 weeks. But this refining process is for our benefit! If we’ll just stay on the journey long enough, we’ll see that God is using our challenges a means to equip us for lasting change and victory. If we will relinquish our finish line, we will invite Him to take the time He needs to change our hearts and minds forever. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have lasting change that takes a while to take hold of, than lose 20 pounds quickly only to regain them again next year.
I’m slowly learning that for me, there is no finish line when it comes to Thin Within because Thin Within has been weaved into God’s sanctifying work in my heart. And sanctification is a lifelong journey. I am in this thing for the long haul.
This is not a diet or a quick fix. It’s a way of life. Something that will likely be with me until I am old and gray. I can almost picture my 95-year old self saying no to a second helping of JELL-O at the local nursing home because I’ve already reached my 5. 🙂
So if you’re feeling tired and worn down or if you’re discouraged how long it is taking to “get” Thin Within, take heart! This is a lifelong journey my friends. God is using your struggles to help you become more like Jesus through His sanctifying work. Often times God uses our moments of discouragement and despair to usher us into a place of freedom and growth. We have our whole lives ahead of us as we invite God to change our hearts, renew our minds and transform our bodies. Not having a finish line or and end in sight frees our hearts up to enjoy the journey a little more.
How about you? Do you see Thin Within as something you’ll stick with for the long haul? Will you remain committed to allowing God to use this as a tool of sanctification in your life? Will you push past the tough times and see this journey through? Will you relinquish your finish line?
For seven years, I struggled to maintain consistent progress in my Thin Within journey. I would start and stop, start and stop. Close to 2 dozen times I repeated this pattern. Often, I would experience 4-6 weeks of success, only to fall off the horse and gain the weight back and then some. It took me about 4 years to finally recognize a pattern in my journey and learn why I was not experiencing sustained success. And it all had to do with the prideful refusal to surrender my will.
I would start Thin Within like most people do. Paying attention to my hunger signals, praying, renewing my mind, focusing on 0-5 eating and staying within my godly boundaries. As I did those things, I would begin to experience success. The weight would begin to come off and I could feel the obsessive thoughts about food and weight lessen. Along with the victory, came pride. “Look at me go! I’ve totally got this. I can do this all by myself.” And before I knew it, I was relying on my own power and not the power of my God. Proverbs 16:18 became the theme verse of my life: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Needless to say, that mentality didn’t get me very far. I would always regain the weight I had released (plus an extra 5 pounds). I would run back to God crying “why can’t I do this?!” To which the Lord eventually replied, “Exactly. You can’t do this because this journey isn’t about your effort. This journey is about surrendering your will to me and allowing my power to work through you.“
My experience felt very similar to when Paul is pleading with God to take away the thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
God’s power is most beautifully displayed when we are humbled, surrendered and at the end of ourselves. It is when we come to the end of our will, our pride, our desires, our frustrations, our efforts and our entitlement, that God can come through and allow His power to work through us. And the power that is available to us is extraordinary power! It is the same power that was used to raise Christ from the dead (Eph 1:19-20)! All we need to do to gain access to this power is humble ourselves before Him, surrender our pride and declare “thy will Lord, not my will.” And as we yield our will to His power, we will begin to see amazing results, not only in our bodies but in our hearts and minds as well.
For me, this is not just a simple prayer I prayed one time. This is something I pray about every single day. Every day I ask the Lord to create in me a humble heart and to help me surrender my prideful will and entitled desires to His perfect will. Every day I take my entitled thoughts captive. Every day I ask for more of Him and less of me. And God has been so faithful! As I write this, I am about to enter my 8th month of sustained success in my Thin Within journey (quite a bit longer than my typical 6 weeks!).
How about you? Have you ever tried to do Thin Within in your own power? Have you felt God calling you to let go of your own efforts and allow Him to take the reigns? Have you found the power available to you in surrendering your will to His will?
Photo credit: Sura Nualpradid via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2
I’ve never been much of a runner. I tried to train for a 5k once and I eventually was able to run up to 3 miles, but I hated every single minute of it. Running was hard, my heart was rarely into it and I always found a way to talk myself out of training. So it fills my heart with joy that this verse in Hebrews isn’t talking about us literally running a physical race (praise God!). Our race is spiritual. But running a spiritual race is no less difficult than running a physical race!
The author of Hebrews tells us that there are things that hinder and entangle us in our race. Those things can look like: sin, disobedience, entitlement, pride, self-pity, fear, doubt, condemnation, lies, gluttony, distraction, complacency, negative self-talk, rebellion- none of these things are from God and they all hinder our forward momentum in our race. And we are called to throw them off. We are called to cast off those things that hold us back, weigh us down, hinder our progress and cause us to stumble in our race. The author of Hebrews doesn’t tell us to accept them, live with them, hold onto them, excuse them or wallow in them! Throw that junk away! Toss it aside! Banish it from your life! Shake it off! Get rid of it!
Can you imagine how quickly a runner would quit a race if he had dozens of heavy bags of garbage hanging around his neck? I doubt he would go 100 yards before collapsing and calling it quits! The same is true for us in our Thin Within journey. It’s going to be pretty tough to maintain our forward progress if we are weighed down by false beliefs, lies from the enemy (“you’re no good at this, just quit, you’ll always be overweight, this is too hard, you’re a failure”), rebellious attitudes or sin. Imagine how much easier the race is without being weighed down with all that stuff!
So how in the world do we throw off the things that hinder and entangle us, so that we can run our race? Luckily for us, the very next verse has our answer: “let us run with perseverance…fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Jesus has the power to speak truth over us. Jesus can set us free from the lies. Jesus can strengthen us in our weakness. Jesus forgives our sin, washing us clean. Jesus can change our hearts, our minds, our attitudes and our actions. Jesus can pick us off the ground, remove the bags of garbage that are hanging around our necks and set us back on our path. Jesus can set us free to run our race! Jesus can do all of this. We need only ask. We need only fix our eyes on Him.
Our race is serious business. So let’s get serious about casting off all the things that hinder us. Let’s get serious about praying consistently against all the junk that holds us back and keeps us on the sidelines. Let’s get serious about coming to Jesus and asking for healing, deliverance, hope and restoration. Let’s get serious about fighting all the lies we have believed by daily renewing our minds and speaking God’s truth over ourselves. Let’s shake off everything that hinders us so that we might run our race with freedom and victory!
How about you? What things do you need to shake off? Can you identify anything that is slowing down your forward progress? Are you diligently praying against the things that hold you back? Are your eyes fixed on Jesus or are you distracted by all the things that try to hold you back? What steps do you need to take to get rid of the junk that is hindering your race?
Image by Jeff Ratcliff, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
If you’ve read the Thin Within book, you’ll likely remember the story about the eagle that thought he was chicken. If you haven’t read the Thin Within book yet, I’ll recap for you quickly.
One day a naturalist was passing by a farm and as he looked over at the chicken yard, he noticed a beautiful eagle mingling with all the chickens. Perplexed, he stopped and asked the farmer why there was an eagle pecking corn with the chickens. Equally perplexed, the farmer told the naturalist that he didn’t know why the eagle was there. He explained that the eagle had been there for a very long time and refused to leave, fly or scare away. “He believes he is a chicken,” responded the naturalist. After multiple attempts to get the eagle to leave the chicken yard, the naturalist eventually had the idea to teach the eagle to fly. He put the eagle in a cage and hiked up a very large mountain. He took the eagle up where the rest of the eagles lived and the moment the eagle saw his natural setting and his fellow eagles, he realized who he was. He stretched his wings and flew…high above the chicken yard.
The moral of the story is that the things we believe about ourselves have a tremendous power over the actions we take. If we believe ourselves to be all the wonderful things that God declares us to be, we will likely behave like those very things. But if we believe ourselves to be failures, destined for defeat…guess what? We’ll likely behave (and eat) like one!
I remember one of the first times I began to believe that I was a naturally thin eater. It was after watching one of Beth Moore’s videos in her Believing God series. She recounted an argument with God that she had recently had over engaging in a tempting behavior that she knew wasn’t His best for her. “God! I want to do that! I think that will make me feel good and everyone else is doing it!” she exclaimed. “Why would you want to do that Beth? You’re a This. This-es do this, not that,” God said back to her.
It was like a light switch turned on in my brain. I am called to be a naturally thin eater through Thin Within. So why on earth would I ever want to stuff myself beyond a 5 or adhere to a diet mentality or do anything outside of God’s best for me? Behaving like someone wrapped in bondage is the opposite of the victorious freedom in Thin Within God has called me to!
I have found myself in many many many situations saying in my head “I’m a THIS! There’s no need to do that, because I’m a this!” Whether I’m tempted to eat past a 5 or order food at a restaurant even though I’m nowhere near a 0, knowing that God has called me to be a naturally thin eater, helps me act like one and gracefully bow out of any situation where I may be tempted or already engaging in a behavior that doesn’t align with the Thin Within boundaries that I have committed to.
It’s a wonderful thing to get out of that chicken yard and finally stretch your wings as an eagle!
How about you?
Do you ever feel like an eagle stuck in a chicken coop? What barriers might be in the way of you accepting, believing, and acting upon being a naturally thin eater? Are you ready to accept your identity as a this (naturally thin eater, victorious in Christ, obedient, covered in grace, redeemed etc.) and not a that (failure, stuck in a dieting mentality, rebellious, hopeless etc.)?