Words Have Weight

Words Have Weight

 

Written by Heather DeJesus Yates

Friend, I am a writer, and the constant battle is in sharing my words. (I’m about to share a lot of them and it’s risky for me still!) If the enemy can shut down your voice he can shut down your soul, it’s an age-old tactic, and often comes when we allow him to direct our focus on others in comparison. If we compared ourselves with those who have spoken or lived before us – none of us would ever say a word! Your words are yours, and your story is yours, and all of it is handwritten by God for a purpose, and we need them! God doesn’t waste his creation, all his works point to His majesty…you are one of the many and as a woman – prized above all. As for mattering to Jesus, I struggle with trusting His nature as “good” because life has been and is Hard. Pain in childhood with assaults and whatnot, and hardships along the way in my own life or in the world we see daily, are fodder for the enemy’s lie that God is bad, can’t be trusted, comfort yourself at all cost with all means necessary. So God has been ever patient with me (who am I to accuse God of being bad??) and He has been woo’ing me with His goodness for some time now. He has slowly revealed to me His good intentions behind some of the darkest hours of my soul, and it is disorienting to realize that what I once thought was mean and cruel, was a gift for me. God has taken pain and transformed it into blessing, and I am practicing a pro-active trust for today’s pain – that it too can and will be worked together for some more good in my life (Rom 8:28). Also, I have thought about the woman in Jesus’ story, she lived in Samaria (where no respectable Jew went), and she was broken, an outcast socially because of her poor lifestyle choices, lonely, longing and grasping at Mr. Right Now to fill her emptiness. Did she matter? Not to those in her community. Was she an idiot? Some thought so. But what is Jesus’ thoughts toward her? What is Truth? John 4:4 reveals it to us, “Jesus NEEDED to go to Samaria…” Many took the longer route to avoid it but Jesus purposely went to the rejected place for the rejected woman. She needed Him, but He needed her too…He loved her, and went where she was and met her right in her “I don’t matter, I’m an idiot” season and spoke His Truth to her. She believed him too, afterall, He went out of His way (actually from Heaven to Earth), for rejected women…who else would do that? Because of her belief in Him, His truth – regardless of how others had treated her – SHE experienced freedom. AND lo and behold, she had overflow and shared His love and Truth with the same community that treated her wrongly. What?!? That’s a transformed life, not a slightly improved self-help plan in action. Sister was freed.

A lie I have believed is that life is hard, painful, scary, and God allows for it because He just wants me to suffer all the time…and cannot be trusted to care for me and comfort me, so I need to take care of myself and comfort myself in order to survive this wilderness until I make it Home. Like I said above, I’m learning that this is loaded with lies, like the one first launched at Eve, and made her doubt God, doubt His goodness, doubt His honesty. God used one word to describe Himself when He introduced himself to Moses in the cleft of the rock…and of all the words He could have chosen that would be true, He chose this one: goodness. God is good, and God is in control, and He works all things together for my good…no matter what mess I’m in. Therefore, whatever struggle or pain I face, God has a plan, and He has good for my soul…but it may not feel good for a while or in the way I expect. Comforting myself outside His boundaries for me will feel good for a moment or few, but it won’t BE good for me. Ps. 84:11 “God withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly.” If He is withholding food from me, (not giving me hunger – or giving me satisfaction while I still have food to eat), than it is for a good reason that He is withholding it. If the food is good for me, He won’t withhold it…He’ll give me hunger and room to still eat before I’m satisfied. This may be a life-long lesson 🙂 Life is hard, it will bring pain and trials and I will suffer, but my hope is without end because God has goodness in Himself present with me in this life as well.

Battle of the Binge

Battle of the Binge

My recent loss with the Battle of the Binge—and the TW Lesson on Gideon—showed me three things when it comes to losing and maintaining weight. 

First, I had to admit that controlling my appetite is an ongoing battle.

I’m not sprinting towards a blue ribbon at the end of a twelve-week course. Food surrounds me daily like an enemy encircling camp. Waiting to sabotage me at every turn. 

For example, last week, the slim hostess of our book club…not knowing I’m trying to lose weight…set a plate of cookies on the table in front of me. I moved them towards the middle of the table and kept my eyes on whoever was discussing the book.

Then someone had the audacity to eat a cookie in front of me. She licked the crumbs off her fingers. Licked the mint chocolate from her lips. Actually, that’s an exaggeration, but I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a cookie. Craving sugar gave me hallucinations.

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Instead of quoting a truth card or memory verse, I told myself, “There’s freedom in Christ. One cookie won’t hurt.” Only, that cookie tasted so good that I ate another one. 

Yep, even though I observed and tried to correct, I succumbed to temptation. Every TW lesson shredded to pieces by my emotional longing to have a cookie.

If I’d been alone, I might have crawled on the table and made a feast of those cookies like the Cookie Monster in Sesame Street. Which is strange, because given the choice, I’d much rather have a cheese plate or a bowl of buttered popcorn.

Sadly, by succumbing to my sweet tooth, I drove home and made myself some fatty, greasy nachos. I’d like to say losing the Battle of the Binge made me feel ashamed. Not really. Like Scarlet O’Hara, I said, “tomorrow is another day.” And gave myself a heap of grace.

Secondly, I can’t fight this food battle on my own. Like Gideon’s 300 men, I need others to come beside me.

Had there been like-minded women at the book club, we could have smashed the cookies and exiled them into the kitchen trash. Or I could have played the heroine. Grabbed the cookie from my friend’s mouth to save her from those worthless calories.

That’s why the TW online community has been a delectable treat. Each day, I’m able to read about other warrior’s temptations, defeats, and victories! As we’ve encouraged and prayed for each other, the battle seems less overwhelming. I’m not alone. Neither are you! 

Thirdly, I can’t fight the battle on my own strength.

Not only do I need to put on the armor of Christ each morning, I need to follow Him throughout my day.

Listing God’s attributes isn’t TW busy work. In order to trust God to lead us to victory, and lean on Him when we’re empty (no pun intended) we need to know Him. Not just intellectually, by reading His Word, but spending time with Him so we’re familiar with His voice. And thus, more eager to obey Him.

Yep, last week I went A.W.O.L. from my healthy eating habits. But nothing’s wasted. By losing that Battle of the Binge, I’ve learned the value of the right tactics so I can win the next one.

Can I hear a hoorah!!

Weight A Second

Standing on the scale, I watched the digital numbers escalate while my weight was calculated. The final number made me cringe.

How can I exercise all week, control my appetite, and not lose an ounce?

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Weeks earlier, I faced two choices: Lose weight or buy a bigger pair of pants. I elected to change my eating habits and exercise regularly. I was motivated as long as my pounds decreased. When I hit the plateau, self discipline took a nose dive.

That evening, I indulged my craving for a HUGE bowl of popcorn that was smothered with melted butter. Yep, ate the whole thing.

I don’t know how many calories I consumed, but I didn’t taste an ounce of guilt when I licked the bottom of the greasy bowl.

Contrary to all the weight loss miracle ads, losing weight (in a healthy way) is a slow, methodic process. And when it comes to building and toning muscles, forget instant gratification.  

However, since I joined Thin Within and began eating healthier and exercising, my pants are less tight. I have more energy; more strength. My mental outlook improved. Isn’t that worth the process?

Or am I only focused on an end result—reaching that ideal number on my scale? If that’s true, my healthy regimen is a temporary fling like a summer romance instead of a necessary, life-long commitment.

The same holds true for spiritual growth.

Years ago, whenever I wanted to experience more of God’s presence and become a “better Christian,” I’d pray more and inundate myself with reading the Bible and Christian material.

I experienced spiritual growth spurts; glimpsed moments of euphoria. However, I couldn’t maintain that spiritual high or rate of growth. Finally, I realized…

There’s no such thing as microwave Christianity.

We renew our minds by the daily reading of God’s Word. Then we’re chiseled and changed by the Holy Spirit in the minuscule moments of each day.

This slow, sometimes painful, chiseling process is necessary to achieve God’s finished product: molding us into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:28,29)

My task is learning how to obey and cooperate when I’m confronted with God’s Word. For example…

  • Do I listen to my heart’s desire to complain, scold, attack, and ridicule? Or make peace?
  • Do I apply God’s Word throughout my week even though the lessons are painful?
  • Do I sweat to do the right thing? Or cave in when something becomes too difficult?
  • Do I rely on my own strength? Or lean on the Lord to make a way in the wilderness?

“Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).

If I want to strengthen my faith and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22), then I must abide in Christ.

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NOT sporadically during a spiritual whim or when I want to lose weight, but habitually.

And when I mess up…eat too much, fail to read God’s Word, condemn myself…I’ll return to the One who loves me regardless of my weight. For His grace isn’t based on my performance!  

 

Looking for Victory?

Looking for Victory?

Am I alone in thinking this Thin Within journey is like the kids’ board game, Chutes and Ladders? Move your pawn forward to a particular space, then shoot up the ladder onto victory. Or land on a bad space (like eating too many cookies) and the pawn slides down the chute cause you have a tummy ache.

That’s me! One day, I’m moving ahead. Controlling my appetite. Tightening my belt. The next day, I over indulge and slide backwards. Drats! Foiled again! Takes forever to win. However, unlike the game whose progression is controlled by a spinning needle, I’m doing this to myself. Unless of course, the “devil made me do it.”

What is so difficult about not eating until I’m hungry and stopping when I’m a satisfied? The way I whine and limp along this 0-5 journey, you’d think someone asked me to race around the track in a wheelchair or swim freestyle with my eyes closed as though I’m blind. If anyone watched the Paralympic Games, you’ll understand. These disabled Olympians push their physical limits to win the race.

What’s my excuse for crossing my boundaries and giving up before I’ve reached my goal and won the prize? I’m not an athlete. But even the Apostle Paul writes in terms that inspires me to finish the race. 

“Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave….” (1 Cor. 9:26,27).

“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Phil. 3:14).

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The cost of reaching and maintaining my God-ordained weight means I may have to suffer. But what’s wrong with suffering if the prize is a thinner, healthier me who feels good in her skin from the inside out. What if suffering is the means to help me listen to God so He enables me to walk in the Spirit instead of submitting to my fickle flesh which entices me to eat…what I want when I want.

Besides, does an empty stomach cause more (or less) suffering than a bloated belly ache accompanied by a heavy dose of guilt and regret? And why should emotional comfort and eating to numb my pain override my common sense to do what’s best for my body?

Great questions to mull over when I’m salivating for that Godiva chocolate.

The wonderful thing about Thin Within is that no one expects me to fight this battle or win the race/game on my own strength. The lessons constantly bring me back to God’s Word which teaches and trains me in the way I should go. 

That said, I’m also realizing the victory isn’t about self-discipline and buffeting my body as much as focus. Where am I looking for victory?

If success depends on human efforts alone….doing every lesson, filling out truth cards, my God list, my hunger charts, my not eating too many cookies…I’ll keep slip sliding backwards.

Instead,I must look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith—who suffered and died for me—that I might live victoriously.

One step forward, and day at a time.

Stress Makes Me Munch

Stress Makes Me Munch

I admit I’ve eaten when I’m lonely or bored, but stressed? Never thought about it until I flew with my husband. We own a Taildragger plane, but I rarely fly with him because it STRESSES me out.

So imagine when he flew me further than my own backyard this past weekend. The stress in my body exceeded Mt. Shasta’s 14,000 foot peak. If I’d been an earthquake, my stress level would have been a ten on the Richter scale. If I was a cat, I’d have been hanging from the ceiling by my claws with my fur standing on end.

Forget Thin Within’s boundaries and counting the cost. When we landed at a small airport, armed guards couldn’t have kept me from the snack vending machine. I wanted my sweet, endurance prize—an Almond Joy.

So yeah, Stress triggers my eating button. If I smoked, I would have inhaled two cigarettes at the same time. If I was a gunslinger about to fight the bad guy, I would have choked down a double shot of whiskey.

However, as I stood in the lobby, waiting for my husband to refuel our plane, I stopped to observe and correct my actions. I realized my taut nerves made me buy that Almond Joy. Eating it, was no solution.

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So I climbed into the backseat of our tandem-seat plane and tucked that mouth-watering baby inside the seat pouch in front of me. When the flight got bumpy, my eyes feasted on the package; imagined how it tasted. But I refused to eat it unless it was absolutely necessary.

Understand, my husband is an experienced aviator who’s flown his whole life. He’s safety conscious, especially with me, because he gets stressed when I’m screaming, “Not so high!” 

Everyone has their thing that makes them stressful. Mine is flying…actually, it’s being suspended in the air higher than ten feet. I feel the same way about aerial trams. So, I’ve had to “work” at not being stressed when I fly.

Here’s what I discovered in the cockpit that calms me and carries over into my life so I’m not a walking Almond Joy.

1) I listen to Christian praise music and meditate on the lyrics that talk about God’s presence and character.

2) I listen to imagery podcasts that help me control my breathing and relax my body.

3)  I pray for people rather than focus on myself, and relinquish my desire to control or fix their problems.

4) I recite Biblical Truths

5) I distract my mind by doing a Word Search. I also have an adult coloring book filled with scripture. Coloring books are popular because creativity relieves stress. I used to embroider and needle point to relax.

6) I read a light-hearted book.

7) I poke fun at myself and laugh.

8) I close my eyes and pretend I’m soaking in a warm bubble bath. 

These suggestions help me relieve stress…and avoid munching…whether both feet are on the ground, or I’m 10,000 feet in the air.

But honestly, when life gets crazy bumpy and it’s absolutely necessary….I munch on the Almond Joy. Only now I know to give half to my husband so I don’t consume all those calories. Why add guilt to stress? 

Sick to My Stomach with Self-Condemnation

Sick to My Stomach with Self-Condemnation

“Why did you eat that? When will you ever learn? How can God love you?”

Those are some of the nagging, ugly voices in someone’s head who wrestles with Self-Condemnation. They’re stuck. Unable to let go of their mistakes and sin. Or they view themselves as an ongoing failure.

I’ve been there. Sick to my stomach with self-condemnation, and I wonder….

Did Eve live in condemnation because she listened to Satan instead of God, and ate the forbidden fruit?

  • Did she justify her sin and continue to blame Satan?
  • Feel bitter towards Adam who blamed her when God confronted him?
  • Beat herself up whenever she thought of that fruit which was pleasing to the eye, but didn’t live up to Satan’s promise?

Or did Eve recognize God’s grace and praise His name? Aware that God could have struck her dead and taken another rib from Adam to create another, more perfect woman.

Instead, the Lord loved Eve and sought her while she was hiding in the garden. He listened to her explanation. Then—despite Eve’s guilt—God sacrificed an animal to provide skins to clothe her. And He promised that one day, her seed would bruise the head of Satan.

Did she gladly receive God’s grace and forgiveness…and forgive herself…even though she bore the harsh consequences of her actions?

I regret words and actions that happened decades ago. Shoot, I regret eating that bowl of popcorn last night. But there’s no place for loathing myself or living in self-condemnation. It’s also not good to overlook my wrong behavior with a flippant attitude that “nobody’s perfect.”

Even so, the enemy loves to wag his finger and lying tongue at us.

You’re a big, fat loser. Nobody loves you.

How many times will God forgive you?

You’ll never reach your weight goals.

The only way to stop the lies—and condemnation—is to take our every thought captive. Then squash negative thoughts and emotions with God’s Word as we rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to transform us.

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Barb Ravling’s book, Renewing of the Mind Project, has been a great resource for me during this Thin Within Journey. Her book is filled with introspective questions to reveal what we think and believe about God, ourselves, and our circumstances. She also provides tips and ample scripture—God’s Truth—so we can gain victory over our negative emotions and debilitating habits.

  • “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 8:1)
  • “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:35)
  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

Condemnation is an insufferable place to live. So is bitterness, anger, worry, stress, and emotional eating. Barb Raveling says, “If we want to be victorious over our habits and emotions, we need to take time to renew our mind.”

After all, like Barb says, self-condemnation is “condemning someone God loves very much…YOU!”