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?
I suffer from Self Will Run Riot. You may have never heard that phrase unless you have graced the rooms of 12 Step meetings. I don’t have outbreaks of this behavior all the time. Many days go by and I am happy as can be. And then it hits…BAM!! I am out of control and I really don’t care. When I think about Self Will, I see a will that is far from what God’s will is for me. When I am operating in Self Will, I am operating in willfulness that gives into whatever I want, whenever I want and in whatever quantities I want. When I am in my self will attitude, I don’t think about what God wants, only what I want. When I go from Self Will to the extreem Self Will Run Riot, I don’t care what God wants, or anyone else for that matter. Picture a runaway train. At that point having a 0 to 5 meal is the farthest thing on my mind. This can even happen after a “perfect” 0 to 5 meal. I’m just barreling down the tracks and not caring one iota about who or what I may run over. It doesn’t happen all the time, but there is a pattern of when it happens. It is always at night, when I am alone and the house is asleep, and I am “suffering” from a frustration of some sort. Are you with me? Can you picture what I am describing happening in your own life?
I am so grateful for all I have learned since coming into the Thin Within Community and having the wonderful blessing of Co-leading Hunger Within. I still suffer from Self Will Run Riot, but God is slowly healing me. The times I have outbreaks are fewer and farther between. I believe God works miracles today just as He did back in history, for He never changes. I don’t know that I really believed that He would break the chains that held me to this behavior, but He is and it is a true miracle. Why? Because I had become very comfortable in my ugly attitude. I cried out many times for healing, but if I am totally honest with you dear reader, I don’t know that I really wanted to give it up. I mean, after all, I could do what I wanted and then blame my “condition” of Self Will Run Riot and feel excused for my “bad” behavior. Then one day, the pain of the out of control eating became more painful than letting go of this behavior that was really a part of me. I cried out in that pain, and God heard me and answered. He brought me here, to Thin Within/Hunger Within, and even though I still fall into my old behavior from time to time, my life is never going to be the same as it once was.
In many ways the miracles began happening as I learned the tool of Renewing my Mind. I believe God’s Word is inspired by Him and that the whole Word of God is true. So when I read 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “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,” and contemplate the truth in this promise, I can turn to Him when I feel my self-will rearing its ugly head, I can stop, take a breath, and look for God’s way out. I don’t have to bow to self and absolutely don’t have to run riot. This happened just this week. I had a tough day at work and was feeling beaten down and discouraged. I was on my way to a binge (haven’t had one in quite a while). Out of the blue at a time we don’t normally talk on the phone, my hubby called me. That phone call was God’s way out. The call lasted long enough that I was able to get my bearings and put an end to what was happening. Yes, I ate past 5…probably an 8 or 9…but it wasn’t a 10+ as would have happened before Thin Within/Hunger Within.
I want to leave you with some other beautiful promises that have been helping me tremendously in my journey here.
Lord, when I hunger, You will satisfy me…John 6:35 – Then Jesus declared,“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Lord, when I am dry and thirsty, You are Living Water to me…John 4:10 – Jesus answered her,“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” And John 37-38 – On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Lord, when I need comfort, You will be there delivering it…2 Corinthians 1:3-5 – 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 receive from God.For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
Lord, You make known to me the path of my life…Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasuresat your right hand.
When I stay alert to my patterns, and stop, take a breath and renew my mind with these truths, I can rejoice that the Lord does fill me with joy in His presence and I know the truth of experiencing eternal pleasures at His right hand.
If you find yourself in the first part of my story (self will run riot), but haven’t reached the second half (healed into being an overcomer), I am praying that you too will cry out to God and allow Him to work a miracle in your life. I pray you find yourself in my shoes, where the pain of how you are living becomes more than the pain of letting go.
Have you ever wanted to just give up? I mean…you’ve eaten 0-5, you have read Thin Within or done a workbook study or gone thru the Hunger Within book and yet, you seem stuck. Or it’s too hard.
Maybe you have been getting closer and closer to the Lord by surrendering the food, weight and size. It may have felt like you’ve been on a mountain top.
Yet….sometimes our darkest valleys come after we have been on the “mountaintop” experiences with the Lord, don’t they?
We are not alone in this experience of wanting to give up!
In 1 Kings 19, we read about how Elijah felt the same way right after he called fire down from heaven to consume the alter of the Lord! Right after that happened (and he had all the priests of BAAL killed….) Jezebel calls for his death.
Elijah was AFRAID (yes, this is the man that just called on God to reign fire from heaven to consume the alter…) and he ran for his life!
1 Kings 19:4
4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
Elijah had just experienced God feeding him by ravens, using him to feed a widow with the oil and grain that never ran out and also raising her child from the dead! (It’s all in 1 Kings 17) Now he is letting fear rule him and wants to die!
Sometimes we feel like giving up because we let fear overwhelm us.
Just like Elijah, we focus on ourselves and not on God. When he was focused on God, that’s when miraculous things happened. But when Elijah was focused on his own insecurity, inadequacies and NOT God’s strength, he wanted to give up!
Ladies, so it is with us! If we focus on what God can do in us and through us, we will see miraculous things! He can and WILL transform us from the inside out if we surrender to Him and focus on Him day by day.
Look at this!
When Elijah was wallowing under that tree, ready to give up and die, did God reprimand him? Did God tell Elijah that he just needed more willpower or that he should just ‘get his act together’? NO!
1 Kings 19:5-7
5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!”6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
God gave him food to strengthen him and allowed him to rest. He send an angel to help him and care for him. He didn’t tell Elijah that he had to do it all on his own.
God is telling us that today. He wants to feed us with so much more than what we can give ourselves. We no longer need to sit under that tree feeling like we haven’t done it right or that we should just give up.
We can cry out to God, even in our despair and He will answer. But we must give up doing this in our own strength. We must turn from ourselves and focus on HIM.
So, if you find yourself in the desert, under that tree and ready to give up, HEAR ME NOW:
When I was a very young child, I didn’t think much about my shape, size or weight. I was blind to what the world said about how a girl should look. I was not self conscious about the way I looked but had self-confidence in myself. I simply didn’t know any different. I look back on that and realize it was a place of freedom.
I teach preschool Music and Movement classes so I see this freedom, confidence and contentment regarding body image every day. When preschoolers come to my classes, they jump, move and sing without any thought to how others see them or what anyone thinks of their bodies.
One example of this is when I had a very overweight student. When he would come to my classes, he could hardly get up off of the floor if he sat down. Despite this, he loved dancing, jumping and moving to the music! Not once was he embarrassed by how he looked while doing the movements. Even though he took longer to get up off of the floor, none of the other children even noticed!
What if I could see myself and other people in that childlike innocence? If I stopped comparing myself to what the world says is “beautiful”, maybe I wouldn’t be tempted to diet in order to have that “perfect body”.
But how do I do this when I am surrounded by a society that says only a size 4 is considered beautiful? Every day we are bombarded with media that screams “BE STICK SKINNY!” This is something I will never be! I am a curvy girl. Even at my smallest size, when I was TOO small by dieting like crazy and dealing with exercise bulimia, I had curves!
I have to decide whose opinion matters most.
The world will always see what they want to see. Society will always deem beauty as whatever the fickle fashion dictates. Do you know that 50-60 years ago there were ads to sell products to fatten you up?
That’s right! Being skinny was considered unattractive and being curvy was beautiful!
So, back to my question. Who is going to determine how I feel about myself? If I am beautiful? Whose opinion matters the most?
Well, God tells me many things about who I am in Him.
It is HIS opinion that matters most!
1 Samuel 16:7
The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.
I have loved you, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
2 Corinthians 5:17
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When I find my identity in Christ and His love, I can see myself as beautiful regardless of shape and size. I can eat within His beautiful boundaries of hunger and fullness regardless of what I look like.
That is freedom!
“Lord, help me to see myself as you see me: marvelously made.”
Do you ever find yourself feeling like this woman in the picture?
Most of the time I think I am doing ok with this 0-5 eating, yet sometimes….well….I fall back into old ways that feel so comfortable and familiar.
I had a few days like that not too long ago. I didn’t mean to eat too much, yet once again, I felt too full and gross. There are times when I feel as if I go into a fog and so I guess it is not the best time to eat. I want to eat. My mouth wants to eat. But my stomach isn’t hungry for it.
Sometimes I stop and think, “Why am I eating this?”
I really want to know the WHY behind my behavior but sometimes I can’t find a reason other than
I JUST WANT TO EAT!
Once again, I was just slipping back into mindless eating patterns.
So what do I do now?
I can ask myself why I am eating this in a condemning and defeated way, or I can observe and correct.
I decide to flip through my truth cards and I see Romans 8:1 among them.
I realize I need to pray for help.
Lord, how I need You. I can’t do this without Your Spirit, Oh Jesus. I need You to pull me up and away from these desires within me that pull me back into mindless eating again.”
“I need more than a whisper of Your still small voice but a SHOUT to wake me up. To help me know this desire to eat when I am not hungry is TEMPTATION. I need a shout to wake me out of the fog of mindless eating.”
“Lord, my heart aches to do what You want. I want to turn from the food and to eat mindfully. Help me, Oh Lord to think about what I am doing when I am in the midst of it. Help me to make the right choices so that the next time I say “Why am I eating this?” The answer will be “because the Lord has provided it and it is the right time to enjoy it.” Yes, within Your boundaries, Oh Lord.”
“Lord, thank You that this moment is a new moment. Your grace is new each moment and I am a new creation in You each time I turn to Your open arms.
“My child, I love you. Remember that nothing can take away my love. I forgive you and you are set free! I am with You and I will help You. You have to be still and listen for my voice, child. It is hard to be still when you have so much going on, I know, but that is when you have to make a special effort to pause and breathe and listen. You have to take a moment to center yourself on Me. Yes, breathe a prayer and ask for my help. I will give you power over the enemy and the sin and the desires. I will give you power over old habit and old ways.”
“Oh child of mine, you may not know why you did what you did but you can still learn from it. It all comes down to taking the moment to turn to Me. In Me, you ARE a new creation who is free from sin. But you have to remain in ME, child. I am here for you and I love you. Always.”
What about you? What do you do if you find yourself slipping into mindless eating? Do you mentally beat yourself up or do you “Observe and Correct”? Have you been pausing at the table and listening for God’s voice? Remember that God’s power over our old ways of eating is there for us to use. Remember that you ARE a new creation in Him and that no matter what, He loves you.
Can I be honest with you? (I hear a round of, “Yes, absolutely!”) We are in a battle. Have you ever identified with the cartoon images or pictures of people with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other? I can always imagine the conversation going on. The devil is saying, “Go ahead! It won’t hurt! No one will know!” While the angel tries to be the voice of reason, “Don’t do it! It will hurt! Remember last time, please! Sure, no one will know, but it will show on your body. And God will know!” Have you been there? Our culture tries to paint a cute or funny picture of what is going on all around us. Sadly, it is neither cute nor funny. It is real.
I’ve listened to the devil’s voice. He likes to be my personal critic. He likes to tell me how I will never succeed…in my job, in my relationships, in my prayer life and in my Hunger Within journey. He tells me to just give up. I will never measure up. I will never be thin enough, smart enough, funny enough, or honest enough. One little thing can go wrong and my whole “Praise God” attitude can go down the drain. I have felt like I fight and fight and never get ahead. Do you identify? Have you been here?
The Thin Within/Hunger Within ministry deals with our food issues, disordered eating and problems with body image. It teaches us how we got in the shape we are in and what to do for healing. The beauty of the Thin Within/Hunger Within ministry is how the material spills over into the other areas of our lives. Yes, dear reader, the Thin Within/Hunger Within material can help us in all areas of our lives where we struggle!
I found myself in a spot just this week where I needed to use the Thin Within tool of Observe and Correct. I have been struggling within myself at a new job. I am doing things I have never done before and I have been questioning if I am good enough or smart enough to do this job. Understand that no one at my new job is making me feel inferior or is saying anything to make me think this is true. This battle raging is within me. It is the proverbial good vs. evil that goes on around us all the time. I felt fear start creeping in and I didn’t like it. I am gratefully far enough on my TW/HW journey to not be running to food to deal with what was going on in my mind. But that sure doesn’t stop the battle in my mind between the lies of the devil and the truth found in God. And the battle raged.
At this point you may want to quit reading. You may think the story is over because you are remembering your own battles that ended in defeat. Believe me, I’ve been there too. But, not this battle. I am slowing coming to realize that the battles I fight do not belong to me. They belong to the Lord. My job is to be prepared for the battle. He is the one who fights it. I observed that I wasn’t prepared to fight this battle and I needed to suit up if I want to have victory. I corrected by going to God’s Word (Ephesians 6:10-18) and remembering my studies in Hunger Within that taught me how to prepare. I prayed. I wielded the Sword of the Spirit and prayed Scripture. I told the devil the truth to counteract his lies by wearing the Belt of Truth. I held the Shield of Faith. I told God in my prayers that I trust Him and that He is my Strong Tower and I am safe in Him. I prayed that I want my life to reflect His glory. I could feel the fiery darts of the devil being deflected as I stood in the Lord’s strength. I was wearing the Helmet of Salvation that affirms that I am bought with a dear price and I am His. And my heart was covered with the Breastplate of Righteousness. Because of His sacrifice, my heart pumps with life because He gave His life for mine. I am covered with His righteousness. I went into battle, fully outfitted and fully prepared. I stood. The Lord fought. He won.
Do you find yourself in battles you feel you will never get out of or ever win? I find when I fear I am losing, it is because I am trying to fight on my own. We have God’s promise. He is there with us. Will you prepare, and suit up? Will you then stand and let Him fight the battle? We are in a battle, but it is not ours to fight. The battle belongs to the Lord.