Almost three years ago, after reading Thin Within, I completed the first Thin Within workbook. This workbook (I have always thought of it as a devotional) changed my spiritual life. Believe it or not, the workbook truly brought me to Christ. It was not until I completed the workbook that I really understood sin, the cross, my identity in Christ and the grace of the Lord (among many other things). And I experienced His healing powers in a very concrete way – by learning to forgive. (Now, I have been experiencing more and more of His healing powers over the past year, but that’s another story for another day).
The workbook’s week on forgiveness was instrumental in bringing me closer to the Lord. Without going into all of the details, I had a very strained relationship with one member of my family. It was a hurtful and painful relationship that caused me much anger. When I looked at my life at that time, I would have said that everything in my life – a loving husband, wonderful children, a healthy family, etc – was pretty great. But when I thought about this one relationship, I just didn’t deal well with the anger. Whenever I had to sit through a sermon or talk on forgiveness, I thought “yeah, but they don’t understand how badly I was treated. And I did nothing wrong! I don’t want to hear this and I’m not going to listen”. Yep, I was like a toddler having a temper tantrum!
I dreaded the week on forgiveness in the workbook. As I approached the week, I considered skipping it. But, I decided that I would start it and see what happened. Then, as I read the forgiveness lessons and studied the scripture, I learned about the grace and mercy that God showers on me when He forgives me. Praise Him!
And then I realized… that I am called to forgive others. Oh, no! But, the Lord began to change my heart as I desired to truly follow Him. I chose to study and commit to that week’s lesson. I then learned that forgiveness is an act of obedience. AndI so wanted to beobedient to the Lord. I wanted to know Him. I wanted His healing. I wanted freedom from the diet mentality. I knew that I had to commit to obedience in this area. So, I committed to praying every day to forgive this particular person and I read the related scriptures over and over. I would picture all of my hurt, anger and pain tied up in a large piece of fabric and placed at the foot of the cross. After several months, I woke up one morning and the burden had been lifted! I knew for a fact then that God is faithful and that I can believe His Word. There is no way that, in my human power, I would have found the ability to forgive.
Here is the beauty of God’s way. When we are obedient to Him, we receive freedom. It sounds counterintuitive that obeying “someone else’s” way will free us, right? We want to be free to do it our own way. But, when I handled the anger and disappointment my own way, I lived in bondage to my emotions. When I handed my heart hurts to God, the chains around my heart broke in two.
It took me a lot longer to admit that eating within the God given boundary of 0-5 is also an act of obedience. I had to commit to more heart work and surrender in order to realize that truth. But, as I said earlier, that is another story for another day.
How About You?
Do you feel that you are not worthy of God’s forgiveness? Do you feel that someone in particular is not worthy of your forgiveness? Read what Jesus says about forgiveness. Talk to God about your feelings. Bring your embarrassment, pain, hurt, anger or bitterness to the foot of the cross. Ask for forgiveness. Ask for the ability to forgive. He and He alone is able to set you free!
*The fervent and deliberate daily prayers to forgive were combined with counseling with a Christian therapist. The therapy sessions were more about deciding whether I wanted to continue a relationship with this person or not. Forgiveness really was a separate matter all together. But I do want to disclose this fact because short-term counseling was helpful for me and someone reading this may want to consider it.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
~ Jeremiah 29:11
I have an eleven year old son, a “tween.” He is stuck between wanting to act like a little kid (playing with his little sister and such) and feeling like a teenager, with all of the emotion and angst that comes with that stage of development. While the “tween” years begin somewhere around 9 or 10 years of age, I feel like my boy has been a tween for a much longer time! He has pushed for independence and freedom from us since he was a little guy. When all of his Kindergarten friends found joy in their moms helping in the classroom, he cried and begged me to not volunteer. He went on his first church retreat at 9 years of age without looking back. The following summer he went to sleep away camp without a tear or a letter home. And I have to prepare myself for lots of drama when I need to help him with schoolwork or study skills – he just doesn’t want my help. He is just a strong-minded and opinionated individual and wants to do things his way.
Last week, on the heels of schoolwork drama, I took him to a new class. My husband and I did not ask him if he wanted to participate, we just registered him. As his parents, we made the decision that he would participate in this cotillion (manners and such) class because we know that it will serve him well in his future. He was not happy about it at all! Without going into details, just know that he ended up enjoying it and having a great time with friends. But, in the heat of frustration at his resistant and rebellious attitude (with accepting help and with following our guidance), I found myself thinking the following:
“Why doesn’t he trust us? We are his parents and everything we do is for his good, even if he can’t see it from his short perspective. We have years of wisdom and experience behind our decisions. I wish that he would just relax and not worry about so many things and just enjoy what we provide for him.”
The next day, God revealed a big truth to me. I am often that resistant and rebellious child to God, my heavenly Father. The big difference is that while I am a loving parent, I am quite imperfect. God, however, is perfect and omniscient. He extends steadfast love to His children. He knit each of us together and He knows us. He is for us and holds our hands even as we stumble. If we trust Him and obey Him, we can avoid so much discomfort and confusion. What a gift! We can lay our worries burdens at the foot of the cross – even the seemingly simple decisions of what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat – and He will give us rest.
I knew that my son would enjoy his class because I had spoken to other parents whose children had enjoyed it in past years. And I know that the lessons that he learns will help him in his future days. I want to approach God as I wish my son would approach us (if only!) – eager for His guidance, willingness to stay in His boundaries, learning from the lessons He teaches, and trusting Him with all of my heart so that I obey Him without resistance and rebellion. I desire to absolutely surrender to Him.
Lord, help us to trust in You with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. Help us to submit to You in all ways, knowing that You will make our paths straight.
It’s a few days before Valentine’s Day and I am sitting in my home in Atlanta, GA – you know, the city often called “Hotlanta.” Well, it’s been anything but hot this winter. We are snow and icebound today, unable to drive anywhere and we are experiencing the third round of school closing since the beginning of the year! (Ok, all of you who live in snowy places, don’t laugh at us. We just don’t have the equipment to clear our roads J .)
Today I am reflecting on the last snowfall just two weeks ago. Do you remember watching the news about the gridlock on our roads? The stories of people stuck on the highway overnight, many of whom had to abandon their cars the next morning? My family and I were fortunate to be at home that day by 3:30 and enjoyed time playing in the snow and then sitting in front of the fire. But, before I arrived at home, I was in traffic for 2½hours – that’s the time it took to leave work early and pick my children up from school. The drive usually takes about 25 minutes.
What surprised me that day, other than the unexpected traffic, was myattitude during the traffic jam. Of course, I didn’t know how terrible the night would be for many people – all I knew was that I had never been in traffic like this! And not one time, not for one moment, was I angry, frustrated, disappointed, or upset as I crept mile by mile to school and then home. In fact, I was content for most of the drive and actually joyous as times. How was this possible? I mean, I seriously surprised myself with my cheerful outlook. So, I thought back over the day to see why I handled the situation so well.
1) On my way to work that morning, I listened to my RenewingMyMind playlist. This list of songs fills me up with the Truth of God and allows me to worship Him on my drive. I remember intensely feeling the presence of God about 1 mile from work. He was so present and palpable that I was brought to tears. I know that His joy and peace carried me through the day.
2) Last year, I began practicinggratitude. This practice, begun during one of Heidi’s Bible studies, has changed my perspective on so many things – not just my body and eating and food. It has made me more present with my husband and children. It allows me to be thankful in the midst of folding laundry, driving carpool, working my job and raising (often stubborn) children.
3) You may have heard Heidi say “you cannot practice gratitude and entitlement at the same time.” That’s true. In the traffic, I was thankful for a warm, newish car, a full tank of gas and an XM radio. I’m not entitled to these luxuries and I was no more entitled to get home quickly than any other person stuck in the traffic.
4) The God List and the Praise Fest. When I worship the Lord and know His character and know how He loves me, the traffic just isn’t a big deal. If I focus on the things above and not on earthly things, if I have an eternal perspective rather than an earthy/daily/fleshly one, my attitude and thoughts do change. His peace, joy, freedom and His will become the desires of my hearts.
So, I know this post isn’t so much about eating, boundaries or body image, but I did want to share how my experience with Thin Within, Heidi’s blog and studies, and practicing gratitude have affected my life outside of food/body issues. It does take time, effort and practice, but God can change your mind, attitude and heart. You will find yourself changed from the inside out and the beautiful, godly changes will spill into all aspects of your life.
How about you?
Would you be willing to start a gratitude list? You may want to start by listing 3 things every day for which you are grateful – big and small. Write them on evernote, a notebook, in a Word document or on the TW app.
Are you renewing your mind daily with music, Truth cards, reading the Bible, or I Deserve a Donut, etc?
Are you adding to your God list and praising Him with it, out loud? If you don’t know where to start, consider the Psalms.
Yesterday, I was using a set of Barb Raveling’s questions to truth journal. I have challenged myself to do this exercise at least once a day and each session has been insightful and rewarding. At the end of yesterday’s session, I wrote down the words BELIEVE, TRUST, INVITE, SURRENDER. The Lord has been speaking these words to me lately and I knew that they were important in my journey with Him. I looked for a way to help me remember the words daily and then it struck me – BITES! (The Holy Spirit impressed upon me the word for “E” so that I could use this acronym).
Believe – The Lord gave me this word in prayer this month. He wants me to not only believe in Him, but to believe Him. I must believe that He is working in me and through me. I pray that I will believe Him and that He will help my unbelief. I pray to believe what He says about my true identity as His child.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. (1 Thessalonians 23-24).
Invite – I invite Him into all aspects of my life – He is invited to each meal, into this process that deals with eating, into my thoughts and really into all of my choices in my life. In my healing from the dieting mentality and the control of food and exercise, I have learned that much of this is a heart issue. Therefore, I invite Him to change my heart – to remove greed, envy and covetousness and to make it pure and wielded to His way.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and rightspirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
Trust – I trust Him, that in His goodness, mercy and faithfulness, He will set me on the right path. I trust that He uses all things, including our suffering and challenges, for good. He is Abba, the perfect Papa, and He is trustworthy. And, it becomes easier to trust Him as I get to know Him better. I accomplish this by reading His Word, praying, and renewing my mind with His Truth.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Exclaim – praise and truth. I cry out to the Lord – I name who He is, what His character traits are and what He does for His people. My “God list” and praise fests help me to do this.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.(Psalm 100)
I also exclaim His Truth in moments of doubt and temptation. He answers those who call on Him. He will provide a way out of temptation. And the Word of God is the sword in the battle against the enemy and the flesh (Ephesian 6:10-17).
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor 10:13)
Surrender – For me, this really gets to the bottom of it all. Absolute surrender – in all ways and in all things – to the Lord is the path to a life of freedom and peace. If I believe that He created my body intentionally with its particular hunger signal and if I know that He has called me to eat within the boundaries of 0 and 5, I then desire to surrender my eating to Him. I need to submit to His authority on this and all things.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:6-8)
So, I am now thinking about BITES as I take each bite during my meals. It keeps me focused on God (not my flesh) and my goal (freedom from the control of food).
How About You?
How do these words speak to you? Does the Holy Spirit lead you to different verses? Different definitions? Different words?
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