Have you ever had your pride come up and slap you in the face? I have. When it happened, I was brought to my knees with a new revelation about God, myself and how my pride caused me to overlook the healing material God put right in front of me.
If you have been reading my blogs, you would have noticed that I speak often about being frustrated and critical. God and I (I think mainly I) have been working on (trying to work on) these negative characteristics that I have. I am really troubled by them (I am afraid they have become quite the bad habit) and I think I am ready to let them go. Does that sound wishy washy? I think it does. See, I have been searching for the answer to finally let these negative feelings go, yet when the Lord put the answer in front of my face, I glossed over it. I think I really believed that I could just fix these issues myself. Let me tell you what I discovered and how my pride kept me from facing the truth.
In the Hunger Within class that I am co-leading, we had read Chapter 7 – The Present not the Past. This is a great chapter that discusses how to let go of the past through facing whatever happened there, letting go of being a victim and a wonderful section on forgiveness. There is also a section on the 5 Stages of Grief. Now, this is the third time I have read through and studied the material in this chapter. Each time until now, I have glossed over the section about grief. In my pride, I decided I didn’t really need to spend time on grief. After all, I had already worked through all the things in my past that I grieved. I had already forgiven those who had hurt me. I was beyond the grief of my past. And that is where I was slapped in the face with my pride. I think the Holy Spirit prodded me to finally take the time to read this section carefully; taking in all the information on the 5 stages of grief and how they impact not only why we eat in a disordered fashion but how they impact all areas of our lives. I also learned that the stages of grief are not always linear, but you can go back and forth between the stages. And then, I was brought up short. I had been wondering where all the frustration and being critical was coming from. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me that my frustration is a form of anger (Stage 2) and my critical attitude is a form of depression (Stage 4). The fact that I never saw this before is because I was in denial (Stage 1) that I even needed this material! Wasn’t I bargaining (Stage 3) when I begged God over a year ago to show me another way to lose weight without dieting and to stop the food obsession? I was grieving over needing another diet. Didn’t I ask Him for a biblical way that brought Him into the equation? Didn’t I make promises to Him? That is bargaining. I may be finding myself going into the 5th Stage of Grief right now. The 5th Stage is Acceptance. I am accepting that grief is a part of daily life and that I was trying to avoid calling my feelings grief, because grief hurts. Grief is raw. Grief causes me to cry and be out of control. Real grief is hard to hide. The Lord opened my eyes to how my pride was keeping me from recognizing that the healing path He has for me involves feeling my grief and taking it to Him. It was time to pay attention to all the material He has laid before me. With my eyes newly opened, I see that I have been wavering back and forth between all 5 Stages of Grief, spending most of my time in Stage 2 and Stage 4. Anger disguised as frustration and depression disguised as being critical. My grave cloth of pride was covering my eyes and it kept me from seeing how much there is to grieve over and work through in my current life. I would say I was saddened by things that were happening, but what was really going on was a deep feeling of grief. And that grief manifested itself in frustration/anger and being critical/depression because I didn’t want to feel the pain. I came face to face once again with being powerless and needing to go to the Source of all power.
The wonderful thing that has happened since He showed me my mistake is that those feelings and behaviors have lessened. I feel that the grave clothes labeled frustration and critical are being removed. I am able to see what was lying underneath and my real feelings have been brought into the Lord’s healing light. There is a reason why the Hunger Within material brings healing to so many, and just as I don’t pick and choose the parts of the Bible that I like (because it is truth in its entirety), God has shown me that I can’t pick and choose the parts I like in the Hunger Within text. Don’t we often find that the things we say we don’t need or don’t have an issue with are the absolute things we need to look at? He is still teaching me, and I am humbled by His truth.
What about you? Is there an area of your own life that you are choosing not to look at? I pray that the Lord opens your eyes for a fresh vision just as He has opened mine.
Sometimes I question the reasons why I eat 0-5 or follow the Keys to Conscious Eating.It’s not that I want to stop living this way. It’s the motive behind living this way. What’s my reasons for doing what I do? If I’m not seeing the results *I* think I should, I may start do doubt if I’m doing this “program” right. I sometimes start to place my identity in how I look or if I’ve “lost enough weight” to be considered “successful”. When I start feeling and thinking this way, it actually comes down to that old struggle between grace and legalism.
—Old Diet LIES—
Sometimes those old voices from my dieting days tell me I must “succeed” or I have to follow every rule. I may start to connect my identity with a number on a little metal box (the scale) or in the shape of my body. When I start down this road of thinking, I start to become legalistic. I start slipping back into my diet mentality of good vs. bad or black and white…and rules, rules, rules!
In a previous blog post, I admitted that I really haven’t been releasing much weight. My body has been going through shifting and changing over the last few years due to menopause, but that isn’t the only reason why I haven’t released. As I examine my heart and my boundaries, I have to be careful that I don’t fall into that diet mindset that says “I’m not doing it right”.
PRAYER AND SURRENDER
So, I pray about it and look back over my journal. Once again….
I surrender my body shape, that scale number and my food over to the Lord.
As I do this, the Lord shows me all the things that He has changed in me. He reminds me that as I surrender more and more to Him that He is CONTINUING to set me free.
Areas such as my attitude toward food, the way I look at my body and where I place my identity are under God’s gentle surgical knife and healing hand.
I examine again my reasons for eating 0-5 or following the Keys to Conscious Eating. If I’m not releasing weight am I still eating too much? What am I doing wrong? If I try to eat even less, am I going back to legalism and turning this into a diet? I don’t want grace to be an excuse for me to sin and just do what I want .
Romans 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
I get back on my knees and ask God to guide me.
As He always is faithful to do, He showed me areas where He is working in me. He also showed me areas that I needed to change some things. Grabbing bites here or there or eating in front of the TV has kept me in mindless eating.
He showed me that I don’t need to eat less, but toSURRENDER MORE.
I need to give up the food to Him. Pray for help when I eat. But mostly trust that HE knows what is best for my body including the size.
Giving up the food to Him most likely WILL result in eating less. It may result in releasing weight, BUT…..
God is showing me that the weight should not be my focus. He is to be my focus.
How different this is from legalism! It isn’t about doing it perfectly, but about leaning more on Him.It’s about learning from the mistakes I make. It’s about His love for me right where I am.
Why do I try to eat from 0-5? Why do I live the “Thin Within” way? I do this to break the chains of dieting! It is to break the chains of ANYTHING that has my heart captive! I do this to walk in the abundant life on this journey with Jesus. I do it because giving up any area of my life that is keeping me captive is the only way I can truly be free! It is all about God’s healing of me in every area of my life. Food, weight, body image, identity, people pleasing, control, worry, fear…..the list goes on and on. In EVERY area, God is placing HIS healing touch as I give Him permission and surrender it up.
Lord, I want to do all of it. I want this obsession with food and weight and the mindless eating out of my life! I want anything that is holding me captive to be removed. I want to be closer to You, oh Lord.
“Just take one step at a time, child.
You don’t have to be perfect.
Listen to My voice.
Turn to Me for every step.
I am with you.
I love you even if you mess up.”
How about you? When you examine your reasons for living the “Thin Within” way, what do you find is your motive? Have you found yourself leaning too much into legalism? Have you found yourself using grace as an excuse to break your boundaries? Let’s pray for God’s leading to show us what HE wants us to do. Let’s pray that our motives and our hearts are in His grace alone. Let’s remember that this is a journey to healing and wholeness in Him.
Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We’ve all heard it—“Get your body back” after having a baby. It’s in the media. It’s on the magazines at the check-out (usually criticizing or giving applause to the “success” of a celebrity that just had a baby). The fitness industry feeds into it. Comments are said from family. The pressure is there. Basically, it’s everywhere and frankly, it’s staring us in the face when we try (yet again) to try to slip those pre-pregnancy jeans on again (and they still don’t fit). So it’s there, as plain as day, that after we have a baby, we think we have to do everything in our power to work on “getting our body back”.
But guess what mamas? We need to let go of that pressure! “Let it go, let it go…” Oh wait, sorry, Queen Elsa gets me every time. *chuckle* Seriously though, LET IT GO! Whew!
When I was pregnant with my daughter Jeralyn, my dear own mama encouraged me to slather on the creams and lotions to prevent stretch marks. My thoughts were, “I didn’t try for 7 years to get pregnant to prevent stretch marks!” And I didn’t use one cream. Nothing. Zip. Nada. None. (And I had and still have no stretch marks even after having 3 babies—not sure why because I was gladly going to welcome them).
So I wonder what would happen if we all looked at our bodies after having a baby as a blessing instead of this thing we have to “get back”? What if we remembered the miracle of a baby when we see those stretch marks? What if instead of grimacing at our “extra-ness” after having a baby, we remembered those women who are doing everything in their power and spending a lot of money trying to get the blessing that made those extra parts? I certainly didn’t care if I had stretch marks because I waited so long for my baby girl—and now I need to remember that when it comes to the weight and extra-ness department.
Ladies, YOU are blessed to have carried a baby! God knit those babies in your womb! And they were fearfully and wonderfully made! We were made for this!
To be very honest, you may never get your body back. Say what??!! (Don’t make that face).
Personally, I never got my body back after having my daughter. I tried. I released all of the weight, but my body was still carrying a little pooch. And then I still had that same pooch after having my son. And that was after getting to what I believe is my God-given set weight. And I’m pretty sure that once I am at my set weight again after having my second son, the pooch will probably be hanging around (quite literally—hope you can see the humor in this). But you know what—that’s okay! I would rather be free and be at my natural, healthy weight than chasing after skinny and worshiping some deaf, dumb, and blind skinny idol. I am so done with all of that! A diet will only make me gain it all back and more. I don’t have the time or energy to obsess about some crazy exercise program (I just want to run, walk, hike and do the strength training my body enjoys (and needs)). I don’t want to succumb to fasts, cleanses, shakes, or crazy exercise programs.
When the day is done and I know I’ve mostly eaten 0-5 (this isn’t about perfection) and I’ve moved my body in a way that it enjoys, then I know I’ve done what I can. And if I still have the pooch, so be it.
I’ve actually heard of some women who don’t want to have babies because they don’t want to lose their body. In a way, that makes me very sad to hear because children are a blessing from the Lord. I’m sure any woman that’s been trying to have a baby for years would be like BRING IT ON. And by “it”, I mean the stretch marks, the extra-ness, the pooch, etc. I know this because I was one of them. And it hurt my ears to hear women complaining about their bodies after having a baby because I so badly wanted a baby.
“You may have big scars, stretch marks, and loose skin that bothers you. You might not have time to exercise the way you used to. All of these things can be seen as an offense against us—against our bodies…our bodies are tools, not treasures. You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form…Motherhood uses your body in a way that God designed it to be used…But motherhood is what your stomach as made for—and any wear and tear that it shows is simply the sign of a well-used tool. We are not to treat our bodies like museum pieces. They were not given to us to preserve, they were given to us to use. So use it cheerfully, and maintain it cheerfully. When you are working hard to lose the baby weight (as you may need to), think of it as tool maintenance. You want to fix your body up in order to be able to use it some more. It might be used for more children, or it might be used to take care of the children you have. We should not be trying to fix it up to put it back on a shelf out of harm’s way or to try to make ourselves look like nothing ever happened. Your body is a tool. Use it.”*
I read that recently in a book and it really stood out to me. I’m in the thick of this. I’m only weeks past having a baby. So I get this. It’s raw and real right now. It’s so real that some of my shirts and pants don’t fit me. Does this discourage me? Yes. Plain and simple. Yes. Has it brought on thoughts about going on a diet? You bet. These are truths I’ve been speaking to myself about it:
I’m 7 weeks post-partum—I need to relax!
Wear clothes that I feel good in—I may even need to buy a few things that are more comfortable in the meantime.
Enjoy where I’m at right now—enjoy the baby and stop focusing on my body, body, body.
Eat and exercise 0-5—that’s God’s perfect boundaries for me and the best maintenance plan!
The “extra-ness” is because a little miracle took place in my womb! I am blessed!
Diets fail 99.5% of the time! Only .5% of people have lasting success on a diet! No thank you!
I am beautiful, loved and accepted just as I am!
I recently found this really great blog post talking about “getting your body back”. It has great tips on how to stop buying into the message that we have to “get our body back or else!” The media and our culture plays so much into what is deemed “acceptable”. But it’s not about our outward appearance, it’s about our heart and who we are in Christ. We are more than our weight, size, and body.
Am I saying you shouldn’t want to release weight after having a baby? No. What I’m saying is, even after releasing the weight, you may not have the same body you had before your pregnancy—ever. Or maybe you will. But reality is, your body changes after having a baby. And wouldn’t it be better to accept that (now) instead of trying to fight it, force it, and hate it into something else?
“Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work…So realize that your body is a testimony to the world of God’s design. Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully. Carry the scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them. Do not resent the damages that your children left on your body.”*
Ladies, we have so much to be thankful for. So when you look into the mirror and you see the marks left on your body because of having a baby, smile and thank the Lord because it’s a good thing. They are signs of such beautiful blessings. And then go kiss your baby (even if they have babies of their own). And if you are one of those babies, thank your mama for bearing the marks to bring you into this world…and tell her that she’s beautiful and that you love her!
I can’t remember exactly when the light went off in my head that even though I proclaim Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior and am adopted into God’s family as His beloved daughter, that I was not living a life that reflected this truth. Oh, from the outside, you might not notice how I hid the pain and critical spirit inside. My pride made me put on a cheerful face. After all, I couldn’t let you see all the negative things I believed and said about myself. I think the song, The Tears of a Clown, was written for me. I am sure that my family and friends would cringe and really not believe the inner conversations I have had. After all, I don’t speak to them the same way that I speak to myself. God’s word tells me to live at peace with everyone so I’m going to be nice to you! Sadly, if you really looked at me, you would see that my excess weight was hiding pounds of pain and shame. And, if I really was paying attention to God’s word, I would have let go of my inner critic a long time ago.
You see, I have a little negative, inner, personal critic and she isn’t very nice. I say she is little, but she has a loud voice and she sounds just like me. I can be going through my day, having what I would call “a blessed day” and out of the blue, she starts in…“You don’t look very good today. The bags under your eyes have packed bags! Where did all those wrinkles come from? You had better get some anti-aging cream before it’s too late! You are so fat. Where did that extra tire come from? You’ll never lose that! Why did you wear that outfit today? You look so frumpy! No one who has it together would ever go out of the house looking like you do!” I don’t like that inner critic, but she has been around for most of my life so she seems like an old friend. She has been allowed to voice negativity in my life for so long that even though she is hurtful, she is comfortable. Why hold on to her when there is another Voice that I want to hear and listen to that brings life and light and healing?? I want to say, “Goodbye!!” to her. Can I face my fear of letting her go? The answer is a resounding YES!!
Have you heard that voice? Let me tell you how I silenced that critical, snide, scolding and negative voice and how I am releasing pounds of pain and shame. It all started with Facebook, believe it or not, and a Facebook friend and sister in Christ leading me to join a Hunger Within group.
I have tried a group like this in the past, but didn’t have any victory. I don’t know if it was because my little friend the critic was too loud for me to hear the message being taught. Or, more importantly, it could have been my disobedience and sin and deep seated shame that held me back. You may ask what got my attention this time; what is different?? I believe it is because God’s word is becoming alive and active in my life in a new way around my issues with excess food and weight. I have always believed Hebrews 4:12 which states that the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, and it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. But, the thing that was missing and is now found in my heart is the willingness to allow God and His word to penetrate into my food issues and the hidden false beliefs that made me run to food for comfort and to fill the void I felt in my life. God has always proved He is faithful to me in so many areas in my life but I had held the door to this area closed to Him with white knuckled fists. Then I reached that proverbial rock bottom. I had decided that I could not face another diet. I knew I would drop weight on a diet. I’ve done this numerous times before but the weight always came back with a few friends!! I was seeking more. My heart was seeking a permanent change. I wanted to be set free of the grave clothes that kept me bound in the tomb of denial that I could control my weight if I just found the right plan.
What have I found as I have let go of my inner critic? I have found a deeper relationship with my Father who loves me more than I could ever imagine being loved. I have found a deeper relationship with my Lord and Savior Who laid down His life for mine so that I could have life and have it more abundantly. I have found comfort in the arms of the Holy Spirit, Who comforts me in all of my troubles. And I have found a true and honest circle of dear sisters in Christ who walk this journey with me. I claim Hebrews 12:1-3 which says,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
How about you? Are you ready to say, “So long critic!!”? Then take my hand and walk together with me and the One who loves us more than we could ever imagine.
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 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.
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.