I was watering our garden one day, trying to figure out how much is the right amount of water for my plants, and the right amount of time to water. I’m not exactly famous for having the most lush gardens or plants in my home; I tend to either over-water or under-water, and neither approach results in happy, thriving plants.
I noticed there were places where the soil got completely moistened with the water I gave it.
In other places it looked only barely moist.
And there were still other places where I had watered not long before, yet that were completely dry.
I realized that there were several things affecting my garden hydration efforts…
AMOUNT OF SUN
Of course, the amount of sun the area had beating down onto it played a big part in how dry it was, and how quickly it would become dry again.
In most analogies, I like to equate the sun with God and his warm grace, but this analogy is different…
Here I liken the beating-down sun to the “hard stuff” in my life. Things that are just rotten, awful, hard, painful, not going away, and that I have no power to change. They just keep beating down on me – and drying me out – like the hot sun in a parched desert.
It isn’t necessarily our “fault” if we have a lot of “hard sun” beating down on our life. It can be, if we’ve done wrong things that opened ourselves up to it. But there is much forgiveness for anything we have done wrong, and then we have a God who wants to walk with us through the consequences; not just put us through them as punishment.
But “the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike,” so many things that happen are not because of our sin or faults, but only because this is Planet Earth, where hard stuff happens. We are not in Heaven yet. That’s the next chapter. (And there are days I look more forward to getting there than others!)
TYPE OF CONTAINER
Then there’s also the matter of the type of container or pot – or lack thereof – that a plant is in. A non-porous pot – metal or painted – does not allow nearly as much water to evaporate out through its walls as does a porous earthenware pot.
In fact, I’ve learned to not even put plants into smaller plain (as in unpainted) earthenware – “terra cotta” – pots as they dry out very quickly, and most of my plants die quickly in them.
At this point in my life, I am like a very porous earthenware pot. This whole thing of needing to die to my flesh in the area of food and eating is draining, in every sense of the word.
It involves allowing God to remove ~ as in peel off one layer at a time ~ my yucky “graveclothes” and reveal the stuff in me that either is dead, dying, or that needs to die.
I have to remember that this isn’t to annihilate me – though it feels like it sometimes in the midst of a painful process – but only to get me the end result of being healed and made whole and new. But it makes me “leaky” (including my eyes) and feeling very vulnerable. And greatly in need of a lot of God’s softening, moistening, refreshing and healing water.
Lesson from the pot type element: I need to allow the Holy Spirit to “seal” me in with His presence so that the watering of the Lord doesn’t just evaporate out!
PROXIMITY OF PLANTS TO EACH OTHER
I also noticed that the proximity of a plant to other plants made a difference in how soon the area would need to be watered again. I noticed that I was much less likely to see dry soil around plants that were close to other plants. The water seemed to soak through the whole area, probably through the common root system. And maybe just the interactive ambiance between them! Plus the shade the close-together plants created kept water from evaporating.
It doesn’t take too much imagination to translate this part of the analogy! Read any article on losing weight, or a testimony of someone who has lost – and kept off – weight, and they almost always include “accountability” in the list of tips.
We have also heard in Thin Within that our need for accountability is great. It took me a while before I finally started taking advantage of that here! Once I recommitted myself to doing this ~ to being in this kind of relationship – with you precious ladies here in the Thin Within community, I found it was absolutely priceless, and I now love it!
Being close to each other actually helps all of us retain our moisture and reduces the likelihood of “drying out on the vine”!
So how much time is “enough” time – especially with the Lord? It dawned on me, as I watered my garden, that I don’t need to focus on “putting in a certain amount of time” with the Lord, but that I need to give Him enough time to allow enough of His glorious healing and unlimited water to soak all the way down to my dry and needy roots; down to where my deepest need is.
“I pray…that out of his glorious, unlimited resources He will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love…” (Ephesians 3:14-17 TLB)
YES!!! This is what I desperately need! My roots need to “go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love”! The rest of this passage in Ephesians 3:14-19 (TLB) has even more life-giving water as it elaborates on what this “marvelous love” is like:
“…and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself.“
Getting filled up by the Lord isn’t so that I can say “I spent such-and-such an amount of time with the Lord today,” (which my “to-do-ish” nature gravitates to!), but so that my roots, the very core of me, can have all the Living Water I need to be nourished, refreshed, and healed. Transformed ~ from the INSIDE OUT! Psalm 1 says:
“Blessed is the one … whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.“
I have much on my proverbial plate in this season of my life, and am way too easily distracted to get to the things I want and need to do. I have too often simply – and sadly – not given my roots “enough” water, or my heart enough Jesus. It comes out in there being too little grace, too much negativity, and too easily feeling discouraged.
I am SO grateful for the various Thin Within communities! Each one that I have been a part of has been a sweet blessing, but a blessing that I have not “taken advantage of” nearly as often as I need to. Notice I didn’t say “as often as I should.” This is because there’s no “should”; only what I actually need.
I too easily allow other things to crowd in and take the place of spending the time I need to with the Lord. It’s also too easy to not connect with my sisters, especially when I’ve derailed and am not walking in the truth I know the Lord wants me to be. In other words ~ sinning and walking in disobedience. Like Adam and Eve, it’s much easier to hide. So, rather than being a part of the help we most desperately need, we drift apart from each other.
So, with me, will you re-state your desire to connect? Here is the two-fold intent that will keep us from drying out:
1) One is my commitment to give the Lord more time to go more deeply into me, down into the dry, crusty, dark places that are in need of His touch and His redeeming work.
2) And I’m also restating my commitment to come to my Thin Within community more often and to not only share nuggets of my journey with you precious ladies, but also to be showered with the refreshing “Living Water” that the ladies (and a few guys) here so lavishly share here out of their own walks with the Lord!
I am so thankful for the openness to so vulnerably share our journeys!
“And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” (Isaiah 58:11)…
COME TO HIM
So how will we get watered? One last verse comes to mind:
“My heart has heard You say, ‘Come and talk with Me, oh my people.'”
…which I take to mean that He actually wants me to come and talk with Him even, if not especially, when I’m in a bad mood or a dark place, ashamed of my repeated failings, my sin, my battle with food addiction, my frustrations with myself, and the feelings of hopelessness that get a hold of me and try to drag me down into the pit of despair. I don’t need to clean myself up to come to Him; He wants to do that! I just need to let Him!
So, even when I’d rather hide,
“by the mighty power of the Spirit of the Lord at work within me,” I will instead say: “…and my heart responds ‘LORD, (and you sisters here in the Thin Within community!), I AM COMING!’“
Does this post look familiar? That’s cuz it first appeared here on the Thin Within blog over a year ago, on May 9, 2016 under Deanna Burris’ name! I (Barb) was not officially blogging for Thin Within at the time, so Deanna posted it for me. However, I have since come on board TW’s blog team and wanted to both revise it and also to get it under my name for reference purposes. Hope this clears up any confusion. 🙂 I am happy to say that, in this last year, I have followed my own “two-fold intent” and am no longer dealing with “drying out on the vine”!
Am I the only one who finds it SOOOO hard to wait for a zero ~ “true hunger”? There are many things in my life that I do even though I don’t want to do them… like doing the laundry… dishes… going places when I’d rather stay home… I even shower, floss, wash my face, and make my bed when I’d really rather not!!!
And there are many things in the Thin Within world I do even if I can think of other things I’d rather be doing…
Having a phone chat with Heidi and Christina and our group? ~ I’d rather be napping at the 3:00 hour, but these chats are worth staying awake!!!!!!
Writing a blog post (which is like journaling for me)? ~ Lots of work, even drudgery at times, but a richly-rewarding process!!!
Making or reading through my Truth Cards? ~ Encouraging to read, fun to make!!!
Reading and commenting in the forums? ~ I love being encouraged and giving encouragement!!!
Adding to my God List? ~ A joy that helps shift my mood and my focus!!!
But waiting for zero? ~ UUUUGGGGHHHH!!!!! I DON’T WANT TO!!!!
There!!! I said it!!! I just reeeeeeeally DON’T. WANT. TO!!!!!!!!
In my favor, there have been lengthy seasons in which I have been able to shift into that dreaded-yet-coveted state of being able to eat within the 0-to-5 eating boundaries. But then [whatever in the world?!] happens, and the weight that I so diligently and joyfully lost, inches its way back onto my person! Annnnd :::sad exasperated sigh::: the favor dissipates.
In the midst of one of these downward detours in my forever-long struggle, one day I happened upon a post by Terri Graham in the Thin Within Discussion and Support group on Facebook. (At least I was searching and not just retreating into a dark corner, which is my tendency in such times.) And Terri graciously allowed me to share it here. She wrote:
I just finished the chapter titled “Holy Struggle” in the Hunger Within book. A question following the chapter asks:
“Do you view the principle of choosing to eat only when hungry and stopping before you are full as an ‘objectionable obligation’ or an ‘inviting opportunity’? If you don’t see this as an inviting opportunity, why not?”
I realized that I do indeed view it as an objectionable obligation. Why? Because it is hard and takes time and patience.
My food (and my right to eat it) is “mine” and I really have held onto it like a petulant child not wanting to give up her pacifier when it is time.
Today I confess this and I repent. I ask God to change my mind and my heart so that I will see it as an inviting opportunity. I need to renew my mind in this matter.
What about you? Why is this an obligation vs. opportunity? What are the truths you use to help you see it as inviting and as an opportunity?
So, getting real with myself (not my favorite thing to do,) why do I see this as an “objectionable obligation” rather than an “inviting opportunity”?
It feels like an obligation because my “flesh man” – which wants what it wants, and wants it now – is being restrained and constrained. It’s not getting what it wants right this very second.
Terri’s reference to the “petulant child not wanting to give up her pacifier” rang embarrassingly true as that very thought had just recently crossed my mind.
Many times, in the heat of a battle of whether to eat when I’m not hungry or to go ahead and indulge and eat more than I need (beyond a 5), self-discipline is the last thing I’m interested in! The image of a baby not getting what it wants is a perfect depiction of ME! Well, lacking the baby-cuteness.
So I thought I’d explore that a bit, and asked my friends on Facebook for photos of babies and their pacifiers. I actually only wanted one photo ~ of a baby whose pacifier had just been removed ~ so they’d be angry ~ which would give me an in-my-face view of what I myself must look like to God when I’m not getting my way.
What I got was several pictures!!! And I realized that, together, they made up a darling, but a little-too-vivid composite picture of my own attitudes toward food. Since this is not the cutest thing to see in a grown woman (me), I will let these babies “say it all” for me! Cutely, which my attitudes aren’t, but these babies are!
“I love my food. Totally contented with my food. See how contented I am?”
“You’re not really going to ask me to give up my food, are you?”
“But I wannnnnnnt it! I neeeeeeeeed it!!!”
“Nooooo!!! Please let me have my food!”
“I know! I’ll HIDE some so no one will know about it!!!”
“You wouldn’t really take away something I cherish SO much, right?!?!”
“I’m warning you; do NOT take away my food! Seriously ~ JUST. DO. NOT!!!”
“Pleeeeeeease let me have it!!!!! I waaaannnt it!!!”
“I CAN’T believe you TOOK it from me!!!!!!!!!”
(Thank you to the mommies of these little dolls ~ Shannon, Beth, Trieste, Maggie, Mandie, and Stacie, plus a grandma, Mary ~ for letting me use these precious photos!!! )
BACK TO DISCIPLINE
Okay, that was a fun ~ even though too-familiar-feeling ~ detour. Back to discipline and my distaste for it…
I’m not off in disliking it. This verse in Matthew (11:28) says:
“For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant…”
“Seems” painful?!?!? Feels pretty outright painful to ME!!! No “seeming” about it! But it’s in the Word, so it must be true. So I’ll come back to it in a moment.
Viewing “having to wait till I’m hungry to eat” as being an opportunity requires thinking beyond my current flesh-indulging state of mind and heart. However, it’s the only way that the rest of that verse can become reality, which is actually a pretty sweet reality:
“…but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
And getting that peaceful fruit of righteousness is really the ultimate “opportunity,” isn’t it?!?!
So, once again, back to Jesus’ feet I go to confess this sin of self-focus and self-indulgence, and repent.
And I must remind myself (again) that repenting means I turn 180° and go ~ as in live and walk ~ the opposite direction! Not 360°! ~ a gaffé I’ve heard spoken by a well-meaning teacher! Which, if you think about it mathematically, actually means “coming full-circle,” right back around to the very state of sin we wanted to repent from.
Not exactly repentance, but it sounds sadly similar to what I have too often done. 😣 (The verse about a dog returning to its vomit comes to mind.😣)
I ask God to change my mind and heart so that I will see eating only when I am at a zero as the “inviting opportunity” that it truly is. My flesh man can’t see this because of its inherent trait of being blind.
Solution? My flesh man needs to DIE so that my spirit man can be free to grow and thrive, which will enable me to see things as God sees them. This is no small feat (specially in ME), yet I know it is nothing that God can’t handle. And it’s totally accessible via re-surrendering my will and then renewing my mind on an ongoing basis!!!
Back to the question of whether we see this as an “inviting opportunity.” I thought it would be fun to look into the word inviting a bit more deeply.
An invitation always bids the invitee to come to something. So what might that “something” be, specifically, if the Lord is the One doing the inviting?
Just for starters, here are three things I found in the Word that we are invited to:
1) Come to the Lord’s own TABLE.
Jesus, the King of Kings, invites us to dine with Him and tells us in Psalm 23 that He prepares a spread for us! And I’m sure is not just scraps!
“You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalms 23:5)
(He’s not going to feed us flowers either; those are just the decorations!)
2) Come to JESUS and find REST!
This journey through life can be full of heaviness, but the Lord doesn’t want us to carry the burdens by ourselves! He invites us to:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
3) Come and TALK with Him!
The God of the universe actually wants to converse with us! And He has time for us!!!
“My heart has heard you say, ‘Comeandtalkwithme, O my people.’ And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalms 27:8)
What we get out of the deal by submitting to God’s discipline ~ which, for us Thin Withiners, is 0-5 eating ~ far outweighs, outshines, and overshadows any pain involved. This is why I believe it’s worded that “all discipline seems painful…” What’s truly painful is not accepting God’s loving invitation to embrace discipline and receive ALL that He has in store for us. Living with our self-indulgent heart day after day, month after month, and year after year is anything but pleasant!
Terri had a bit more to say:
“One of the baby pictures of a sleeping baby brought to mind, strangely or maybe not, the parable of the wise virgins. Does that food pacifier keep me from filling my lamp with oil? Does it dull my hunger for God? I think so. I need to make some truth cards for this.
Come, Lord Jesus, YOU are the answer to our every need!!! Help us GET this, HEAR this, RECEIVE what You are saying to us, APPLY it to our hearts and our thinking, FILL our lamps with the oil of the Holy Spirit, STOP dulling our hunger for You and things of You, and WALK IN VICTORY in this!!!!!
I’m sure there are many more “invitations” in the Word, and I’d love to hear any others that you find!!!
And I’d also love to see your responses to Terri’s two questions above:
What about you? ~ Why is this an obligation vs. opportunity? ~and~ What are the truths you use to help you see it as inviting and as an opportunity?
Have you ever dreamed that you were flying ~ like literally flying?!? I have, and ooooooooh my, it was exhilarating!!! With my arms stretched out front-and-side, in a mostly prone position, legs trailing weightlessly behind me, I flew a few feet above endless green rolling hills, with nothing carrying or pulling me! Just free-floating me, gently gliding over the rolling hills, soft breeze in my face! It was a most amaaaaazingly delightful experience!!!!!
One obviously can’t take pictures of one’s dreams, but I found this photo (above) on Pixabay that’s very similar to what I saw in my dreams. This is one thing ~ of many! ~ activities that I’m looking forward to in Heaven!
This has to be connected to my love of flying in a jet, which we did this last spring. Even though it’s not even close to being the same kind of flying experience as what I did in my dreams, it’s still a blast to take off (my fav!), and lift up off the ground…
Then rise up through the clouds…
(Dave and I take turns getting the window seat each trip we go on; if I really want to score points with him, I let him have it even if it’s my turn.)
And finally, we’re soaring above a soft carpet of clouds, looking down on them!
So it should be no surprise that Isaiah 40:31 is one of my favorite verses:
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall rise up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Because we are still encumbered by our human bodies, flying on our own physically is impossible. Man has tried, but never succeeded. We’ll just have to wait for Heaven to enjoy that!
Likewise, because we’re still encumbered by our “carnal nature,” rising up into the spiritual skies is not easy; impossible on our own strength.
But not like the physical, we actually have access in the spirit realm to the ability to “rise up with wings like eagles.” So what actually holds us down?
I’ve come to realize that there are two major reasons for why I have a hard time “rising up” and and why I “faint” and “grow weary.”
1) CARRYING UNNECESSARY BURDENS
Many years ago when I was at my ideal weight and out on my walk, I got to the crest of a hill and suddenly realized that I had not even been straining to get there, nor that I was even going uphill! In fact, I looked back to make sure I had been!
(actual crest of actual hill on my actual walk)
That’s how easy it was to walk with the right amount of weight on my body, and with my muscles in shape from walking and exercising regularly.
Because of my optimal state of health at the time, carrying the weight that was on me did not feel burdensome.
Now, with this extra weight I’m currently carrying, walking is soooooo muuuuch harder!!! Uuuuuuugh!!! It’s a continual strain to carry these extra 60 pounds on my overburdened, under-worked-out frame. Getting to the crest of that very same hill today is only with huffing and puffing.
But my physical body is not the only place I carry extra weight; my tendency throughout my life has been to carry my daily life burdens and not even think to hand them over to the Lord ~ well, until they get so obvious and painful that I finally realize I don’t have to keep carrying all this!
I have to admit that sometimes I’m carrying them because I don’t want to surrender something. So burdens of all varieties ~ emotional, mental, and spiritual ~ pile up. It’s no wonder that, with all the extra hard-stuff-of-life-type burdens on my heart, I find it difficult to rise up and fly as Isaiah 40: 31 says those who wait on the Lord will do!
2) NOT YOKING UP WITH THE LORD
It usually just suddenly dawns on me that the Lord wants and is waiting to help me figure out what to do about all the stuff that I have allowed to pile up.
Then I remember His invitation:
Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
God never intended His loved ones to carry or deal with this hard stuff by ourselves! He wants us to yoke up with Him and allow Him to carry the weight of the burden. We still have to go through the situation itself, but He carries the weight ~ or heaviness ~ of it for us.
So, I sit down with Him, often in my favorite chair or on my bed, and allow one burden ~ one pain, frustration, difficult thing ~ at a time come to the surface of my mind. Which isn’t hard; they’re all clamoring for attention!
Once one burden has surfaced, along with the pain and/or frustration, or whatever it churns up, I then let the Lord help me process it. I ask Him to either:
a) show me how to deal with it, or…
b) help me hand it over and release it to Him. And to show me which is which.
After unburdening myself of each extra emotional, mental, or spiritual piece of baggage, I just wait… letting His presence sink deep into my spirit and my raw emotions. Even though some or even all of the situation itself is still there, I feel so much lighter and freer because I am now relating to it differently!
By the mighty power of the Spirit of the Lord at work within me…
I am now rising above it. It’s no longer dragging me down into the quicksand of depression and hopelessness!
This isn’t usually a quick process; it takes time ~ at least a few minutes, longer if you have more to deal with ~ to thoroughly process this with the Lord. But if you’re busy mothering, working, driving, or whatever, and can’t take more than a few seconds, at least do a quick burden-release to the Lord. That’s certainly better than continuing to carry it! But do come back to it ~ to Him ~ when you can take some time to really process things with Him.
For reasons you can now understand, going on a helicopter ride has been on my Bucket List! On our recent trip, Dave arranged for us to go on one!
With the six of us passengers all buckled into our seats in the helicopter, the pilot turned on the engine and the blades atop the machine slowly started turning around. (See one of them below left.) After a minute or so, though, the pilot turned the engine off and told us that the blades were not starting up as quickly or strongly as he thought they should, so he wanted to have the mechanic check the engine to see if something was lugging it down. He told us: “I’d rather check this out now when we’re down on the ground than have problems when we’re up in the air!” We all fully agreed!
The delay gave me some extra time to get a few pictures… Left: the helicopter blade in question. Right: Dave and I with our headphones on, waiting to take off.
After some checking, it was decided that the engine was good to go, and we were off ~ and up ~ on our ride!
Here we’re soaring ~ errrr, uuuuh ~ coptering(?) over Las Vegas! (And, by the way, there are plenty of “good clean fun” things to do there!)
The aforementioned headphones were not to merely muffle the loud sound of the helicopter! We were able to hear the pilot’s voice through them, telling us all sorts of interesting things about the sights we were seeing! This is a great analogy of how the Lord wants us to put on our “spiritual headphones” and let them muffle out the loud voices of the world so that we can more easily and clearly hear His voice!!!
As I thought back on the helicopter’s slow start, I got to pondering what was lugging me down in being unable to stay consistent in rising above temptation and get my disordered eating in order. This took me full-circle back to my tendency to carry extra burdens…
I found this photo (on Pixabay ~ an awesome free photo source!)…
… and had fun adding all of the various struggles I could think of to each of the bags!
Yep! That’s a pretty accurate picture of what I feel like some days! For those of us with disordered eating, these things can propel us toward food to find comfort, solutions, distraction, and avoidance of dealing with the problems head-on.
Here are all the above bag titles listed for you:
Wrong understanding of God
Wrong thinking about food
Overwhelmed by life
Frustrations with kids
Hurt or betrayed by a friend
Hard stuff going on at work
Painful stuff going on in marriage
No idea what to do with my future
Can’t get myself to stay focused on what I need/want to
More to do than I have time or energy for
Next I funneled all of those into the following six areas. I’ll address several of these in future blog posts, but for now, I’ll put an “antidote” resource after each to at least help you (me!) get thinking in a better direction. (If you’re in Thin Within, much of this will be review.)
1) Wrong thinking or understanding about eating and how it relates to God
Much more can be said about each of these, of course! Whole books are written about each one. If you have found something to be particularly helpful, feel free to share in the comments!
Healing and resolution in allof theseareas involve renewing our heart and mind. And this is exactly what Thin Within is all about! I highly recommend getting connected in a group and becoming committed ~ to the group, and to getting this area dealt with once and for all!
AND IN CLOSING ~ ZIP-LINING!
This love of flying is why, upon first seeing the Zoom Zip-line in Vegas, I knew I wanted to DO IT!!! This ride starts out at 51 stories high, but the rider is completely secured in a cradle harness that encases the torso, with both legs secured in individual leg braces as well. You “fly” along a zipline that takes you 1/3 of a mile through the Fremont Street mall. This isn’t Dave and me, but it’s exactly what we looked like ~ with the sky a little darker ~ when we went about an hour later.
Here I am right before it was my turn to get attached to the cable and be launched through the big door, which the four flyers in the above photo had just launched out of!
Here I’m zooming along the zip-line, approaching the end (where the photographer awaits), having just thoroughly enjoyed the flight!
Now, to get to where, “by the mighty power of the Spirit of the Lord at work withing me,” the photo above becomes a picture of me being able to consistently rise up through ~ and not get stuck in ~ clouds of depression, hopelessness, or temptation, and actually soar above them with wings like eagles! ~ or even jets, helicopters, or ziplines!
No matter what the motivation behind or purpose for it, a get-away is a good idea! One get-awayer might be wanting to simply get away from the routine and cares of daily life and have a change of pace. Another wants to get away to visit or do something fun, exciting, and different. And yet another wants a get-away where they just relax and do absolutely nothing.
But additionally, and sadly for me, “vacation” has been synonymous with “license to EAT everything I want”! I have basically deemed vacation a time to vacate my food boundaries, toss all reason and restraint to the wind, and indulge my taste-buds in whatever sights my eyes might behold. Bad idea!
But my days of wayward appetite indulging have been getting challenged and are drawing near to their end. I had been participating in Heidi Bylsma’s Thin Within Coaching group for a couple of months prior to our trip, and it was clear that my old appetite regarding vacation feasting would not be getting to accompany me this trip. Actually it just needed to be killed and buried forever.
So I had determined in my heart and mind that our most recent vacation would be different. I was not going to be focused on FOOD, but rather on having fun with Dave, doing the various outings we had planned (which included some “rising above” experiences ~ like ziplining through a mall 115 feet up and going on a helicopter ride), bubble baths with Dave, and just relaxing in our room.
And, even though it was hard on my flesh ~ which just wants to eat whatever it wants whenever it wants ~ the Lord helped me rise above the temptation to eat when I wasn’t hungry.
For most of our time there, I was both “doing” and “being” very well with my eating, meaning I had surrendered my self indulgent heart to the Lord and was not allowing our trip to be about food. This alone was fun! A new experience for me, which, on one hand, I’m embarrassed and sad to say, but on the other, “better late than never,” right?
But there were a couple of days while there that I was struggling to keep afloat. It took me a while, but I finally realized at least one of the reasons…
Several “concerns of life” had piled up.
Kind of like on a freeway when one car rams into another, and then the car behind that one rams in to the first two, and then the next car back crashes into those, and so on… until there’s a huge pile-up!!!!!! (I do realize that the photo above is of toy cars on a village map carpet. There were actually plenty of real-life photos of car pile-ups, but in case any of you have been in a traumatic car accident, I thought the toy car pile-up would be less traumatic. 🙂 However, when I showed this photo to my little 2-year-old grandpunkin, Henry, his eyes popped as he said “UH-OH!!!” So he “got it”! 🙂 )
There were quite a few concerns that I had allowed to pile up. I don’t need to get specific as to what those were as it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we all have our own pile-ups of concerns, and I had not been dealing with mine.
A more “natural” way to put it is that my emotions had gotten “constipated.”
This was because I was not taking my “concerns” to the Lord. Nor was I even recognizing things were piling up that I needed to take to Him! I was just kind of unconsciously stewing and mulling over several different things that had stealthily snuck their way in to my subconscious. I was unknowingly letting random thoughts and feelings churn around in my mind and heart, which naturally clouded and clogged up my emotional state.
(By the way, my time with Dave was absolutely wonderful, so these concerns had nothing to do with him, but were going on “elsewhere” in my life.)
But then I “came to” and became aware of what was happening, and realized that I needed the Lord to pull me out of the quicksand.
The Lord actually brought a few things came to my rescue!
First, I came across a sweet but powerful little video in the larger Thin Within Discussion and Support group on Facebook. It was by Asheritah Ciuciu, a very sweet, Jesus-loving gal who has done lots of short encouraging videos like this one here. This particular video was about quieting our minds and emptying our burdens before the Lord, and receiving what He has for us in exchange. She has you hold your hands down and empty out everything you can think of ~ one by one ~ that’s weighing on you; just dump it all before the Lord. Then turn your empty hands upward and open them to the Lord to receive whatever He wants to give you.
(I was originally able to watch this video in the above-mentioned Thin Within Discussion and Support group, however Asheritah has since changed the way her videos are viewed, and it can be viewed only from inside her “MyOneThingAlone” community where monthly membership is available. You can learn more at www.myonethingalone.com.)
It’s just a very simple tool, but because I’m very visual and hands-on, it was really helpful to me. Right there in the hotel room! (Dave was gone, so I had this time to myself.) And it gave me a hand-on way (literally) to UNconstipate ~ or unclog ~ my pile-up of burdens!!!
It’s actually a very practical way to “take every thought captive,” and then DO something with them!
GOD SPEAKS TO ME
Through Heidi’s book. By the same name. 🙂 The Lord knows I need reminders and reinforcing, so to add to, clarify, and confirm the above hands-down and hands-up exercise, along came some gems on Days 23 and 24 in Heidi’s book, God Speaks to Me!!!!!!
On Day 23, Heidi talks about being able to “discern what is best.” It dawned on me that I have never thought of “discernment” as being something to use in the area of eating. Like I hadn’t thought of it as discerning when I’m at a 0 or a 5, or as discerning what kind of food I’m hungry for or that would be helpful to me right now.
I thought of “discernment” as a “spiritual” tool used in a counseling or prayer setting. “Common sense” is what I have called what I use to determine my food issues. So I was kind of separating my eating from the “spiritual” realm. But in reality, it’s all “spiritual”!!! And I needed to integrate the two worlds!
So I asked the Lord for discernment in this matter of eating, and then also for self-control to accompany and activate that discernment!
COMING FULL CIRCLE
Then on Day 24 of the same book, God Speaks to Me, Heidi leads us to hear the Lord asking us to “draw near to Him, to come close, to eat what will satisfy, to rest in His presence and cease carrying my heavy burden.” Aaah! The whole “heavy burden” thing again! This delightfully brought me full-circle back to Asheritah’s video with her little tool for how to lay down our burdens! Not that you couldn’t do it on your own without her little tool! I just like her “visual” for doing this.
I want to add that a “heavy burden” is not necessarily just ONE big burden. It can certainly be that, like dealing with cancer, marital infidelity, unemployment, an extended illness or death of a loved one, just to name a few biggies. (Or “heavy-ies”?) But it can also be many smaller things. Imagine a wheelbarrow packed full of many weeds, dirt chunks, and rocks from around the yard. Each one is not heavy in itself, but it all adds up. Lots of little things all piled up – and not handed over to the Lord – create one… big… heavy… burden.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt.11:28-29)
Does your appetite need to have its “license” revoked? Does it need to be sent on a permanent vacation ~ away from being in charge of you? Or if it’s extra tenacious, willful, and wayward like mine, it just needs to be put to death. Of course, appetites don’t usually die a quick, easy death. But you can surrender it, and ask and allow the Lord to help you get victory over it, which He does by transforming our minds and our hearts!
The Thin Within groups are an excellent way to get very practical, loving, grace-based and wisdom-filled help and companionship on this arduous journey! Really good idea!!!
About those burdens… Because of how deeply they affect us as well as how we live and respond to Life, I want to look more closely at those! All burdens are not “happenings.” Some stem from other sources, like wrong thinking, or heart issues that have us spiritually constipated. So how did they develop? What did they come from? How can we recognize them? And then how can we deal with them in practical ways? More on that in my next blog post!
Are you wondering if eating intuitively is ever going to work for you? Are you wondering if you will ever get “good at” renewing your mind, taking your eating and food issues to the Lord on a consistent basis, actually release some weight? I’m here to tell you to stick with it. Don’t get discouraged. Let God who began a good work in you be faithful to complete it. He has started a new thing in you; don’t give up before you see the miracle.
I’ve been a blog writer, a class leader, and a participant of Thin Within/Hunger Within since January of 2005. I released a bit of weight in my first year, but not enough by my standards. God had more work to do in me. I have a pride problem. He is breaking me. I have a self-sufficiency problem. He is showing me I can’t do this on my own. I’ve dealt with selfishness. He is putting me to work for His kingdom out of my comfort zone. All this time I’ve been waiting for my weight to release, but He had other plans for me. He asked me to step back for a bit. He asked me to let go of the reigns for awhile. He asked me to let go of control. It has been hard for me to do this, believe me, and even though I have stayed in contact with my Thin Within/Hunger Within friends, it has been a lonely road for me. But, I am not alone for I am walking with my loving Father. The difference is I am walking with Him by myself, and I needed to do just that.
In January of this year, I let go. I really did. I disappeared for a season and spent time with the Lord. I renewed my mind. He showed me that there were foods that I wouldn’t stop eating in excess even though they made me feel unwell. He helped me to let go of them. He showed me how I’ve still been trying to control people and situations. He opened my heart and mind to new ways of communicating that has ushered in healing. He has released 30 pounds of pain in my life and 2 clothing sizes since January 1. He did it. I didn’t. I let go.
Dear reader, I read all the literature. I led others in the literature. I read the right Scriptures and made my “Truth Cards”. I signed up for classes and taught classes. All of that was needed and beneficial. A wonderful and firm foundation was built in my life through this wonderful ministry. What I had to learn though was that even though we walk this journey together, our paths do not look the same. When I didn’t have the results I wanted, my normal knee jerk reaction kicked in and I wanted to run away (give up). God held me fast, and He wouldn’t let me run too far. Just far enough for Him to continue the work He so diligently and lovingly started in me.
The gist of all this is that I am proof positive that eating intuitively with God leading the way works. The only way it won’t is if we give up. I’m asking you all to stick with it as I did, even if you are doing it “behind the scenes” as I chose to this year. There will be times when you want to quit. There will be times when it feels too hard. But, there will never be a time when the Lord is not there. Hold fast to the Lord as He holds you fast. Your miracle will come.
How’d you do? Did you maintain your weight during the holidays? Or perhaps you’re like most Americans who’s number one goal this year is to lose weight. Before you hit the treadmill or eat that cottage cheese, you might want to weigh your heart.
In my last Thin Within blog, I challenged myself to avoid using the holidays as an excuse to binge. For the most part, I behaved myself. I managed to get through December with minimum damage. And I blame those two pounds on the Almond Joys that Santa slipped into my stocking.
Then our family went to Hawaii for a week-long vacation and my resolve vanished like smoke up a chimney. Christmas cookies didn’t tempt me like the smorgasbord of food on the tropical island. Sushi, Japanese noodles, grilled Salmon, pineapples, coconut. My appetite (and waist line) grew larger with each meal.
Barb Raveling’s app, “I Deserve A Doughnut,” would mysteriously appear on my phone like a wagging finger. Talk about a killjoy. Who needed self discipline and the means to escape temptation while I was munching in paradise? Then again, what’s the point of having her app if I refuse to use it when I need it most?
My muumuu disguised the consequences of eating more than normal. Plus, I’d had the foresight to wear stretch pants while I traveled on the plane. When I returned home, the bathroom scales confirmed what my heart feared. I’d gained substantial weight. No more skinny jeans.
Now, I don’t expect sympathy from readers. Sunbathing in Hawaii during winter might even invite contempt. But I wanted to share my recent failure which led to this eye-opening lesson: my heart’s best intention is no match when faced with Something I Really Want.
And that desire to have what I wanted—regardless of the consequences—weighed heavily on my heart when I read, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2).
When I’m obsessed with my body or food such as…
Counting calories—or not—because I’m on vacation.
Worrying about my weight because I don’t want to look “fat” in a thin-conscious culture.
Justifying my eating habits when I’m stressed or my ego’s bruised.
Searching “Yelp” for the best place to eat.
Resolving—again—to eat healthy and exercise this year.
When I focus on those things, I tend to forget that God isn’t concerned with my outward appearance. He weighs the heart which includes my thoughts, intentions, and attitudes.
Yes, I need to respect my body which “is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). But I can’t discount my heart because the Bible says:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” (Matthew 15:19)
Thankfully, when I put my faith in Christ, His blood (not my good behavior) made my heart righteous. However, if I want a healthy heartthat wants what God wants, thenmeeting with Himmust be a priority.
I realize “being still” may seem as difficult as doing tummy crunches, but spending time with the Lord—in His Word and prayer—is how the Spirit of God softens, nourishes, and speaks to the heart. And I can’t think of a better New Year’s resolution than asking God to weigh my heart and change me from the inside out.