Let’s be honest. We all go thru times when we feel defeated, discouraged and tired. We might feel like we should turn back to a diet. I know when I feel this way, I tend to go right back to eating mindlessly because of this attitude. The Lord have shown me that when I start down this path of defeated thinking, my eyes usually are on my weight – that scale number- and then on my body- how it looks. When this happens, I tend to experience shame over my body. My focus is on ME! ME! ME!
I was feeling this way not long ago, of all mornings, but Easter Sunday. Yes, this day where we celebrate the most amazing thing Jesus did to prove His power, I was focused on how ugly I felt! I was focused on myself and didn’t even realize it. Then we sang a song that started to crack that shell of discouragement.
As we sang that portion of the song over and over, a light began to seep into the darkness that was in my soul that day. It was just a preparation for what was to come next thru the words of my pastor.
The title of the message was “The Power of the Cross”
POWER. OVERCOME. JESUS. That struck me. Here I was sitting in my own puddle of discouragement and Jesus was gently telling me that HE has the power to do all things!
All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.
I realized that I had been focusing on ME and not on HIM! (ouch!) I had not been focusing on Jesus and His power. Right there, in the middle of the sermon Jesus whispered to my heart that He no only has, overcome death- but He has also overcome this “living death” that is my shame!
Jesus has overcome
- my body shape
- my size
- my scale number
- my turning to food to escape or comfort
- any and all strongholds
- all of what society might think is beauty and acceptable
Right then I heard my pastor say that we all need to have an
“Extreme Makeover – Soul Edition”!!
That is what I knew I needed. That is what I need every day!
I had been focusing on getting an
Extreme Makeover – “Please Can I at Least Look Good Enough to Not Be Considered Old and Fat?” Edition
My focus had been on my outward appearance! Jesus showed me, ever so gently that He is doing a work in my heart. I could let go of the outward appearance and surrender it over to Him to create in the way He sees fit.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
Oh, I was taking furious notes in my journal that day in church! I thought my pen might catch fire! But Jesus was bringing a new fire to my soul. Yes! As I heard the pastor say “We need to not just KNOW about the resurrection, we need to EXPERIENCE resurrection in our life!”
That was it. I felt that day as if I WAS resurrected. And each day I need to be resurrected in His newness of life.
Lord, help me to keep my eyes open to You and Your power.
Give me NEW LIFE!
So, now I ask myself….am I denying (pushing away) His truth in my life by believing lies…these old lies about my identity….that being a certain number on a scale or a certain shape or size is the only way to be acceptable? Lies about what he CAN and WILL do?
Oh dear Readers, may we all listen to HIS truth of who we really are! We are HIS CHILDREN who are dearly loved no matter our shape or size. Let’s trust that HE can and WILL take us where we need to be in our outward appearance if we truly follow Him with our eating and our lives.
Amen. May it be so!
God is doing a new thing in you. I keep saying this to gals in the current Hunger Within class that I am co-leading. I believe it. I see it and I am awestruck at how God is working in the lives of these dear ladies. I see ladies taking the truth of God desiring to release them from the obsession of food and weight issues and I see them laying down all the burdens that He never meant for them to carry. I wanted to understand this saying at a deeper level, because I know the truth of this is grounded in His word and it is a testimony to how He works in our lives as we surrender daily to His leading and guidance.
We see in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that God’s word says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come! At the moment when I accepted Christ Jesus as my Savior and as He grew to be the Lord of my life, I became a new person. I didn’t feel new, and since I was 9 at the time, I wasn’t quite mature in the word enough to understand what was happening to me, but I knew in my heart that I was changed. Jesus and the Holy Spirit became real to me. I felt the Holy Spirit’s hand on me even when I was rebelling in my youth. I knew that I knew that were I to die, I would have gone to heaven. He called me to be His, and from that point on, I had a reason to live and every dark time and trial I went through, He was right there with me, leading me and guiding me through them.
We also see in Ephesians 4:23-24 that God’s word says that we are made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So, what I understand is that we put on a new self, which means we have to take off the old self. What does that mean to me, personally? What do I need to take off so that God can do a new thing in me? I’m going to be painfully honest with you, dear reader. I am taking off:
- The Deanna who was not loved by her mother the way she needed.
- The Deanna who was abandoned by her dad (through death).
- The Deanna who is a compulsive dieter, food binger and restrictor, bulimic with laxatives to make the scale obey.
- The Deanna who was sexually abused as a young child.
- The Deanna who searched for love in the wrong places on the way to finding true intimacy.
- The Deanna who feels sorry for herself (even though she is greatly blessed).
- The Deanna who wonders how God can use her with her insecurity that she masks with pride.
Wow, that is a painful list, but it isn’t the end, so don’t feel sorry for that Deanna. You see, God did a new thing in this gal, and she is not the same. The attitude of my mind has been changed and this is who I am today, with my new self put on:
- The Deanna who is a forgiven child of God.
- The Deanna who is a set free child of God.
- The Deanna who has been adopted into God’s family.
- The Deanna whose mind is being renewed daily by God’s word.
- The Deanna who was not given a spirit of fear but a sound mind.
- The Deanna who let go of fear because Christ’s perfect love being worked in her life casts out all fear.
- The Deanna who is made holy by Christ Jesus, because He is holy.
- The Deanna who is a loved child of God.
- The Deanna who is held by and is held close to her loving Father.
- The Deanna who is confident in His strength.
- The Deanna who will not be shaken because she stands on the Rock.
- The Deanna who is fed by the Bread of Heaven and whose thirst is quenched by Living Water.
- The Deanna who is victorious.
- The Deanna who Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for so that she will be with Him for eternity.
God is doing a new thing…in me. I am embracing my new identity. I am claiming what He has done so that I can let go of the old self that blocks me from Him. I am watching Him as He breaks down all those false “self-protective” walls I built up so that my life can reveal the glory of the work that the Creator of All is doing in my life. I am claiming all that He tells me I am through all He did for me so that I can discover a hope and power like no other.
Have you ever heard the story of Jacob and Esau? You can find it in God’s word in Genesis 25:27-34. Esau was willing to give up everything he had and everything he was promised for a bowl of lentil stew. I have been there. I understand. I have tried to fill that empty place with a bounty of food. I have been desperate for outward signs. I have wanted the empty praise of man for what I appeared to be doing in my own strength. When I look at these lists that I have shared with you dear reader, I have to ask myself what I have been willing to give up of my true self for the insignificance of a bowl of lentil stew?
The truth? Deanna is not that girl anymore. Deanna is a Jesus following girl. Her Lord Jesus is authoring and perfecting her faith. She is loved by and loves her heavenly Father and is held and comforted and taught by the Holy Spirit. She is letting go of self-determination for being Spirit-determined. She is embracing her true identity. God is doing a new thing in her.
Will you join me in claiming your true identity? Are you ready and willing to see what God is doing in your life? Will you put your name in each statement in my second list and embrace the new thing God is doing in your life.
Lately, I have really been dealing with some big and deep things in my life that God is wanting to heal. I have to admit that sometimes this causes me to turn to food or at least my boundaries get a bit loose. It’s hard for me to admit that I may not be releasing weight or maybe have even picked up some….especially since I write a weekly blog article on here AND I am co-leading a class!
But, I have to be REAL. I am a REAL person who struggles just like you. (sigh…isn’t THAT a relief?!)
So, dear reader, I wanted to share with you today what the Lord spoke so gently to my heart as I have been struggling. I hope it touches your heart as it did mine.
Oh My Beloved Child,
You search for Me, but I am not far away. You long for My love for you as if you have to act a certain way, be a certain size or shape or just be someone else for Me to love you.
This is not so.
This is a lie.
Listen to Me now.
THE WAY YOU ARE.
- With every curve.
- With every imperfection.
- With every struggle.
- With every breath and every step and every trip and fall.
Yes, I call You to follow me in everything You do. But I also know you don’t have it all together, yet. And that is ok.
If you had it all together and could follow me perfectly, I would not have given my Son for your redemption.
BUT I DID. And He came. And He died.
See how I love you, my child? Do you see?
Do you see how I have created You with love? Just the way You are?
Oh my Child, I want what is best for you. That is why I call you onward to follow Me.
And I lead you onward. Forward. Into my arms.
Do you fall sometimes? Do you skin your knee? Do you feel like giving up? Do you feel like I’m not there? or have stopped loving you?
Oh child. Listen to me know.
I WILL NEVER STOP LOVING YOU.
I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU.
I WILL NEVER STOP.
So now, Dear One. Take my hand. Just reach up for me. Turn your eyes off of yourself and on to my eyes.
I am here.
I am waiting.
I will NEVER stop loving you, My Beloved One.
Recently while teaching my music classes, I was using a book that came with a CD. It is an adaptation of the song “If You’re Happy And You Know It” (how many of you automatically sang in your head and next came “clap your hands”? )
I love this book and so do the children. The only thing I would change is on the CD is the book is read to music and not sung. (I can always just sing it myself, but sometimes it is nice to have a vocal break and let a CD do it for me.)
I have used this book for several years now and although it has two tracks on the CD, I always go to the first track because it has the “turn the page” signals on it. It just makes it easier to read to a group.
Well, the other day I was using this book in my lessons and for some reason I accidentally skipped over to track 2 instead of the first track that I usually use.
THE SECOND TRACK SANG THE SONG! This is what I had been wishing I had for years and IT WAS ON THE CD ALL ALONG! I just didn’t know it because I had never thought to go to the second track!
Right there, in the middle of my lesson with my class….right there in the middle of the book CD singing away and me turning pages….Right there….GOD WHISPERED TO MY HEART.
That is Me, my child. So often You try to do things on your own. You automatically go to the things you think will work. You try to draw upon your own power and intellect. You go to what feels safe. BUT child, ALL ALONG what YOU really long for is RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. It is ME. I am there. I am with YOU. I give you the HOLY SPIRIT to guide you. Look for me and you will find me, for I am never too far from you.
How many times have I run back to the familiar? To the food? To the diet that has “worked” before to just take that number down on the scale, but nothing changed in my heart?
How many times have I chosen “track 1” over and over again because it is just what I always have done…..not thinking to even try “track 2”?
Right then I realized that just like that “track 1” on the CD was close to what I wanted and did the job, so it is with anything I try to do on my own. I might be able to ‘do the job’…the diet might be able to ‘do the job’ but it will NEVER be what I REALLY want. It will never truly fulfill.
Isaiah 55: 1-3
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
Did you notice that no matter how many times I chose the first track on the CD that the second one didn’t just disappear? It was there “waiting” to be chosen.
So it is with Jesus. No matter how many times I choose my own way…turn to food….eat outside my boundaries….think about dieting again…worry about my body shape…(fill in YOUR track 1 here)….
HE IS ALWAYS THERE, PATIENTLY WAITING FOR ME TO CHOSE HIM.
Jesus tells us in His word that He will never leave us! (Matthew 28:20) He will never forsake us! (Deuteronomy 31:6,8)
His love and His way is always there for us. He reaches out to us with open arms, ready to embrace us and gently lead us on the path HE has laid out for us.
Oh, Dear Sisters (and Brothers), let’s examine our hearts today. Are we settling into our own comfortable ways? Are we turning to things that truly do not satisfy?
Let’s run and jump into the Master’s Arms and surrender up these things. Let’s walk this path to freedom from diets and scales and body image and food obsession…..together.
I had sweet baby Joel 5 days ago (when I started writing this). He came right on his due date (February 12th) weighing 7lb 4 oz (my smallest baby) and 20 inches long. He is healthy and sweet and sleepy. He does all of the things newborns do, including keeping his parents up at all hours of the night. He is a sweet addition to our family. We are all adjusting to the changes a newborn brings, and that includes adjusting to my post-pregnancy body. In fact, I think we can all use a little “adjusting” to our body. By adjusting, I mean accepting, loving, and embracing your body right where it’s at–no matter where you are at in life, no matter your current size.
I was inspired to write this post as I was laying down resting today. Suddenly, I realized that my belly was no longer rounded, but flat (at least as I was laying down) and squishy. Obviously, I knew that my baby belly was gone, but it was just this deep realization that the baby is no longer taking up residence in my womb and that my body is slowly going back to its “normal” shape and size. And instead of feeling this pressure that I *have* to reach my pre-pregnancy size, I felt this beautiful acceptance that I just had a baby and that my body is beautiful as it is. I felt my squishy belly and thanked God for the beautiful miracle that just took place. I give the Lord the glory and thanks that I’m not obsessing about getting back to a certain size, but that I can accept my body right where it’s at today.
So what is it like to experience eating 0-5 before, during, and after pregnancy? It’s amazing! As I’ve said before, eating 0-5 works no matter what and that includes all seasons of life, including pregnancy and after baby comes. My body knows exactly what it needs. Pregnancy isn’t an excuse to “eat for two” and breastfeeding is the same. Although, I find that I’m much more hungry while breastfeeding than while pregnant. And that makes sense because the body needs a lot more fuel to produce milk for baby. It’s pretty amazing how it really all comes together. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about how TW works with breastfeeding (that will be for a future post); I wanted to expound more on accepting my body after having baby.
During my pregnancy, I had my times of struggling with thoughts of being tempted to go back to a diet after having a baby. But the Lord has clearly shown me how diets do NOT work (95% of diets fail and you gain the weight back plus more over time). I struggled with thoughts about my body. I remembered that I was back in my pre-pregnancy jeans 2 weeks after having my 2nd child and I felt this pressure that I had better get back to that by then or if not sooner. Wow, such unnecessary pressure I put on myself! (A few days after I started writing this post, I am in the next size down jeans. So I’m not at my pre-pregnancy jeans size, but almost–praise God! And a few weeks after starting this post, I’m able to [mostly] fit into my regular sized jeans). But praise the Lord because my mindset is totally different now. I’m going to love my body and accept it right where it’s at. I’m going to do that by smiling at myself in the mirror and thanking the Lord for my body. I’m going to cherish and respect this body God has blessed me with by being satisfied with His provision and eat between hunger and satisfaction (0-5). I’m going to wear clothes that fit my present body.
One thing I wasn’t able to do much during my pregnancy was exercise. I had all of these different physical things going on and it just wasn’t working to exercise on a regular basis. I’m really looking forward to exercising again, but that could be weeks from now. I will rest and respect my body. I’m making an exercise goal, but I promise it’s not anything extreme or crazy. I’m going to exercise in ways that I enjoy and I’m going to wait until my body is ready and I’m well-rested. I’m no longer going to put this crazy pressure on myself to have that “beach body”. I’m not going to make my body a slave. I’m going to give it the love, acceptance, and respect it deserves. I am a child of God first and foremost. I’m not going to conform to this world’s image; I’m all done with that.
These are not empty words. These are all truths the Lord has been working and working on getting into my head (renewing of the mind). I am not a number on a scale or the size of my jeans. I am not my pre-pregnancy body. I am who I am because of Christ. It’s taken almost 3 years to (finally) accept these truths! I’m so thankful that the Lord is so patient!
Wherever you are in your journey toward freedom, stop and ask yourself: what would happen if I accepted my body as it is, today, in this moment? Would I give it more love? Would eating between hunger and satisfaction happen more naturally? Would I try shoving it into clothing that simply doesn’t fit or wear clothes that fit my present body? Would I compare myself with air-brushed images or say ‘thank you’ to the One who made my body?
I know not everyone reading this just had a baby. Maybe it’s been many years since you had a baby. Maybe one day you would like to have children. Truth is, no matter what your body has done or how it’s changed over the years, you can accept it and love it and respect it right where it’s at. You can honor God’s temple NOW. Stop thinking you will only do this when you are that magic number on the scale (get rid of it!) or when you are “skinny”. Thank Him NOW for the amazing miracles that take place each day in your body, whether it’s grown and birthed a baby, whether it’s gone through some miraculous healing, or even the simplicity of taking you from where you are to where you need to go and doing all of the necessary things needed for life (like breathing). You were knit together by the Lord in your mother’s womb. You were marvelously made!
Our body changes as we go through life. It’s just a fact of life. Let’s embrace and love and accept our body today! Honor your hunger and honor your body by eating within those beautiful boundaries God has so lovingly designed. Take care of yourself. When you look in the mirror, thank God for your body; purposely thanking Him for those parts you aren’t so sure about.
P.S. I found this really great article about the pressure the culture and media plays on women about getting their body back after having a baby and how it’s important to accept our new bodies. Let me know what you think!
I recently shared in the Hunger Within class that I am co-leading, how I identify with the blog post written by my dear friend and co-leader Deanna Lewis. You can find her blog here: http://www.thinwithin.org/mindless-eating/. I have been and will probably be again the woman in this picture. I have eaten like this in periods of numbness to fill an empty spot in my soul. I have eaten like this to cover up emotions that I do not want to feel and especially do not want to deal with. Dear reader, I have eaten like this just because I am bored. Need I say that I have eaten like this because I love popcorn and if I am watching a movie, I love having a huge mound of it to stuff into my face? Late at night this kind of eating calls my name. The house is dark. No one but me and my cats are awake. No one is watching and it’s time to fill her up! Like many of you, I say I eat this way because I just love the taste of food. Whatever the reasons, I have eaten in mindless fashion, way past satisfaction and to the point where each new bite tastes more and more like cardboard. And, I always experience the next morning blues…why, oh why, did I eat like that last night? My mouth hurts from the salt (oh how I love the salt in my snacks) and I will probably never be hungry again!! Have you been here? Do you identify with me?
I am trying to visualize a good example of what this kind of eating is to me, and I think I found the perfect one. Picture a fish…yes, I said a fish. Now picture that fish getting caught with a rubber worm. Just in case you have never been fishing (I enjoy fishing. Haven’t been for years and miss it) I have a picture just for you to show you what it looks like when you have a fish caught on a rubber worm.
When I think about this fish, I am picturing myself going after the rubber worm. It promises a tasty meal or a snack and boy does it look tasty and good! Surely it is just the thing I need to fill my empty places. Do you like shiny things? Boy, sometimes these rubber worms even have shiny disks that attract my attention. I have to have it!! It’s shiny and it looks so good, like real food, and I have a craving that needs to be satisfied!! And, look…I’ve been caught…by a rubber worm. I have taken the bait, and I have latched on to something that looked like it would satisfy and give me pleasure, but it turned out to be fake. This is how I picture mindless eating or any eating for reasons outside of hunger. The craving is there. It looks good. It sounds good. My attention is grabbed and I am going to eat it. And, there is no satisfaction, and I am caught. I will probably even want more of the same thing. Isn’t more always better? Thinking more will surely satisfy and fill that empty spot that I am trying to fill has got to be good judgement, right? Wrong!
This is what excess eating has become to me. I still do it from time to time, and what I find each time is that there is little satisfaction. There is always the question of why. Sometimes I realize that I don’t even care for the food I overate anymore. I don’t beat myself up like I did in the past. God has healed those places in me where I hurt myself and sabotage myself. I am quick to take my sorrow to the Lord in repentance for my slip. Can I interject here how grateful I am that our Loving Father is forgiving and longsuffering?
It helps me to visualize the truth of how I am eating. I have a choice daily to go after the rubber worm or to feast on the Bread of Heaven, which is Christ Jesus. One is fake and will never satisfy. The other promises that when I feed on Him I will never hunger or thirst. For me, the choice is already made. I want to eat what truly satisfies my every deep hunger. I am trading my popcorn covered lap for true food.
Will you join me in trading the things that look good and promise satisfaction but fall short for the Word of God which feeds our deepest needs?