We talk a lot about emotional eating–our tendency to eat when we are sad, lonely, bored, angry, etc., etc., but let’s go a step farther.

What about why do we get in an emotional state of such extremes so often? What is with the drama? There is something extreme about the emotions that resulted in my eating so frequently and so often. If I could get to the heart of that, it makes sense that I could dismantle it and break free.

I found that unless I dealt with the root pain and all the other times something similar (in feeling instead of circumstance, perhaps) had come up, I continued to feel pain disproportionate to what was going on in the present moment–and I continued to eat my way through it. In fact, for me, it got to the point that if one of my little children chose not to be obedient, even that could trigger the “I am being rejected” tapes of my past and I would eat to soothe myself. Is it any wonder I ate constantly and became 6 sizes larger than was healthy?
How to deal with it? Please don’t discount what I am going to say here…let me explain how this works.

Forgiveness changes me–a bunch. Inside AND out!
Bear with each other 
and forgive whatever grievances 
you may have against one another. 
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  
– Colossians 3:13

God led me to have a long look at my entire life and to journal my way through the heartaches I had faced from the earliest days I could remember to moments previous. As I walked through the Valley of the Shadow (it felt like Death), the Savior led me along the way. I prayerfully considered (and journaled) all of the instances over my life that I could think of where I felt wounded.  I “told on them”–each person– to God.

“God, did you know that in sixth grade that girl wrote me a hate letter and had the entire class sign it? That devastated and humiliated me! People I thought were my friends, signed that letter, God!” 

I wrote this with many tears, getting in touch with the deepness of the wound that this and other similar things inflicted. Nothing was too insignificant to deal with.

I wrote about my parents, the kids in the neighborhood, the mean lady that hurt my feelings…and also about the many things that I had done that I needed forgiveness for.

I know what you are saying…you are probably saying that the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13, 14 to forget what is behind and press on to what is ahead. You are right. But I couldn’t press on until I unloaded the baggage I carried with me. Otherwise, I was “pressing on” with the baggage weighing me down. I viewed everything now through my perceptions that were dramatically impacted by what happened in my past. ALL because I hadn’t allowed His blood to cover them. I hadn’t forgiven them.

This was what God led me to do in order to live out Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
et 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. 
– Hebrews 12:1
The key to being biblical in this is to choose to forgive each one, each person, each occurrence, each detail.
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I had to be very intentional. This wasn’t “sanctified denial.” This was deep stuff. And, truthfully, walking through that time was excruciating. But that was what the blood of Christ was intended to do. To forgive not just MY sin, but also the sin committed against me.

Jesus said:

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
– John 8:31-32
He tells us to forgive in His Word. With the Lord, we have no need to fear the truth of our past–even the painful truth of our past. In fact, there is freedom in prayerfully acknowledging it and taking it to the cross, specifically, the details of it…and forgiving. Letting the blood of Christ drench and redeem every single solitary moment that came before.

Even if I “shouldn’t” have been offended. If I felt pain…I took all of that to him and chose to forgive.

And, yes, I even had to confess each time I felt God had wronged me. NO! God does no wrong! But I have felt wronged by Him at times. I have taken each of those things to him–the fact that he allowed my mom to abuse me about food, my dad to molest me…WHERE WAS GOD during those times? I had to take that feeling that he “should” have kept those things from happening…to Him…and release them. I had to say “You are God and I am not…I don’t understand, but I am ok with this.” I had to prayerfully beg him, first, to make those words true in my life. He was faithful to do that. But it was so painful. This was very much a real demonstration of dying to self for me….

(For those in our book study, this is why we have been keeping a list of the attributes of God…when we see him as he is, we can begin to trust him…and this stuff is deep…and requires a trustworthy, GOOD God…whom we DO serve! Hallelujah!)

I can’t communicate just how much doing this transformed my journey. I had no idea just how much my present challenges triggered past wounds. It was indiscernible, really, but once I chose to forgive, huge changes happened. This was when I began to be able to be in the present moment. I stopped being drawn to food so often.

In fact, a couple of years ago, when I began to struggle with my eating again after two years of not having such issues, God showed me that I needed to return to this practice–that pride had kept me from keeping short accounts! Forgiveness changes things!

You see, if I have learned to soothe myself with food and haven’t forgiven things in the past–pain that caused me to yearn for comfort and freedom from pain–then any time any pain is triggered by something in the present, I will eat over it…but I am not eating because of the pain of being cut off on the highway ten minutes ago like I may think. I am eating because something of the behavior of the driver triggered heartache of a thousand yesterdays. Once those yesterdays are forgiven, then I respond in the present to what goes on and things aren’t nearly so bad. I don’t feel lured to food nearly so much.

And I also can begin to see that the Lord wants to be my comfort instead of turning to food, which short-circuits the very thing God wants to do in my life by allowing heart ache anyhow!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles, 
so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the 
comfort we ourselves have received from God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, 
so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
– 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Recently, God used a situation to show me just how much he had grown me in this. Something similar to what I shared yesterday (not a women’s ministry thing, though) happened to me. I had the feelings of rejection, but God instantly led me to the foot of the cross and I went willingly. Where there was sin committed against me, because accounts were current and I had no past wounds lurking in some dark part of my heart, I could look at what really happened in the NOW, see what needed forgiving now, prayerfully choose to do so and also clearly see that God has sovereignly allowed this for His glory. This is His doing. He is sovereign, after all. My quarrel (if there is one), is not with other people. It would be with Him! Do I really want to “go there?”

Forgiveness Changes Things
No really. Forgiveness changes me–inside and out. It changes my journey to become my “natural, God-given size.”

How about you? Do you sense that something about what I have shared may be true for you? Are you willing to walk with Jesus through the Valley of the Shadow? Is He calling you to revisit some past pain so that he might redeem it through the power of His blood?