I have come to believe that one of the most disheartening consequences of being overweight is that we subconsciously begin to put on a cloak of shame and wear it daily, particularly when out in front of others. The more we engage in the act of gluttony (eating excessively) the more fitted that cloak becomes, and the less our true selves are seen by those around us. It’s as if we’ve allowed an impostor into our life, giving him free reign to swindle us, and cause us to assume a false character or personality. In other words, we’ve let this impostor hide the real us. For that matter, this cloak includes a personal mental covering of the original design God had in mind when He saw fit to breathe our lives into existence. What a shame. No pun intended.
I’ve noticed over my 15 year struggle how many things I’ve stopped doing because I am no longer physically or mentally comfortable in doing so. I’ve been ashamed that I let myself go to the extent I have. In fact, on a bad day when I’ve made a mental agreement with the enemy, I don’t realize it, but I look at myself differently. In some ways, it has been debilitating. For anyone who struggles with this you know what I’m talking about. It’s no longer fun picking out clothes or getting dressed for the day, or swimming (even with your own family), and our comparison to others runs rampant. We dress more to hide ourselves than to reveal. Even the change of seasons can become less fun since wearing shorts is now dreaded and not looked forward to like it use to be.
Just recently I was sitting in church riddled with low self-esteem and comparison. Unfortunately, the enemy had launched several mental assaults on my heart that morning and I made agreements with him, instead of combating him with the truth of God’s word. So I sat, longing to be fit and lovely like the other women in our congregation. And yet I felt inferior, less than, like I didn’t belong. I wanted to go back home throw on my pajamas and crawl into my bed as quickly as I could. Needless to say, that Sunday was not a stellar day with regard to my eating and/or my food choices. And it was my own fault. I know better. I know the Truth!
Before I go further let me qualify the word “overweight” since it is different for everyone. For me, it is refusing to live within the boundaries God has set for me (zero to five eating), thus resulting in excess pounds, which causes me discomfort and a lack of peace. It is also carrying more than God designed my physical body to bear.
On a more encouraging note, the wonderful thing about a cloak is that, according to the Oxford Dictionary, it is “an over-garment, hanging loosely from shoulders”. It “conceals and disguises”. In other words, it can (and should) be removed. When Jesus Christ came to bring us the new covenant he gave us the opportunity to remove the cloak of shame and wear the garment of His grace every single moment of every single day of our lives.
Hebrews 10:16 says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
This week I realized afresh just how important it is that I let God write his laws in my heart and on my mind. To live apart from this is to live in shame and defeat. It’s to live contrary to his original design of me.
Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
It’s important that in this “in between” place that we continue to look to him, so that those around us see radiance and not shame. We no longer need to wear the cloak of our old man (shame). We are new in Christ and this means the garments we now wear are new and they are free of shame. Hallelujah!
What about you?Do you find yourself wearing a cloak of shame or of radiance? Are you dreading the upcoming change of seasons or are you looking forward to it? Have you put together some truth cards that God can use to “put his law in your heart” and “write them on your mind”? If not, let me encourage you to do so today. You’ll be glad you did.
I suffer from Self Will Run Riot. You may have never heard that phrase unless you have graced the rooms of 12 Step meetings. I don’t have outbreaks of this behavior all the time. Many days go by and I am happy as can be. And then it hits…BAM!! I am out of control and I really don’t care. When I think about Self Will, I see a will that is far from what God’s will is for me. When I am operating in Self Will, I am operating in willfulness that gives into whatever I want, whenever I want and in whatever quantities I want. When I am in my self will attitude, I don’t think about what God wants, only what I want. When I go from Self Will to the extreem Self Will Run Riot, I don’t care what God wants, or anyone else for that matter. Picture a runaway train. At that point having a 0 to 5 meal is the farthest thing on my mind. This can even happen after a “perfect” 0 to 5 meal. I’m just barreling down the tracks and not caring one iota about who or what I may run over. It doesn’t happen all the time, but there is a pattern of when it happens. It is always at night, when I am alone and the house is asleep, and I am “suffering” from a frustration of some sort. Are you with me? Can you picture what I am describing happening in your own life?
I am so grateful for all I have learned since coming into the Thin Within Community and having the wonderful blessing of Co-leading Hunger Within. I still suffer from Self Will Run Riot, but God is slowly healing me. The times I have outbreaks are fewer and farther between. I believe God works miracles today just as He did back in history, for He never changes. I don’t know that I really believed that He would break the chains that held me to this behavior, but He is and it is a true miracle. Why? Because I had become very comfortable in my ugly attitude. I cried out many times for healing, but if I am totally honest with you dear reader, I don’t know that I really wanted to give it up. I mean, after all, I could do what I wanted and then blame my “condition” of Self Will Run Riot and feel excused for my “bad” behavior. Then one day, the pain of the out of control eating became more painful than letting go of this behavior that was really a part of me. I cried out in that pain, and God heard me and answered. He brought me here, to Thin Within/Hunger Within, and even though I still fall into my old behavior from time to time, my life is never going to be the same as it once was.
In many ways the miracles began happening as I learned the tool of Renewing my Mind. I believe God’s Word is inspired by Him and that the whole Word of God is true. So when I read 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it,” and contemplate the truth in this promise, I can turn to Him when I feel my self-will rearing its ugly head, I can stop, take a breath, and look for God’s way out. I don’t have to bow to self and absolutely don’t have to run riot. This happened just this week. I had a tough day at work and was feeling beaten down and discouraged. I was on my way to a binge (haven’t had one in quite a while). Out of the blue at a time we don’t normally talk on the phone, my hubby called me. That phone call was God’s way out. The call lasted long enough that I was able to get my bearings and put an end to what was happening. Yes, I ate past 5…probably an 8 or 9…but it wasn’t a 10+ as would have happened before Thin Within/Hunger Within.
I want to leave you with some other beautiful promises that have been helping me tremendously in my journey here.
Lord, when I hunger, You will satisfy me…John 6:35 – Then Jesus declared,“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Lord, when I am dry and thirsty, You are Living Water to me…John 4:10 – Jesus answered her,“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” And John 37-38 – On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Lord, when I need comfort, You will be there delivering it…2 Corinthians 1:3-5 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
Lord, You make known to me the path of my life…Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasuresat your right hand.
When I stay alert to my patterns, and stop, take a breath and renew my mind with these truths, I can rejoice that the Lord does fill me with joy in His presence and I know the truth of experiencing eternal pleasures at His right hand.
If you find yourself in the first part of my story (self will run riot), but haven’t reached the second half (healed into being an overcomer), I am praying that you too will cry out to God and allow Him to work a miracle in your life. I pray you find yourself in my shoes, where the pain of how you are living becomes more than the pain of letting go.
Have you ever wanted to just give up? I mean…you’ve eaten 0-5, you have read Thin Within or done a workbook study or gone thru the Hunger Within book and yet, you seem stuck. Or it’s too hard.
Maybe you have been getting closer and closer to the Lord by surrendering the food, weight and size. It may have felt like you’ve been on a mountain top.
Yet….sometimes our darkest valleys come after we have been on the “mountaintop” experiences with the Lord, don’t they?
We are not alone in this experience of wanting to give up!
In 1 Kings 19, we read about how Elijah felt the same way right after he called fire down from heaven to consume the alter of the Lord! Right after that happened (and he had all the priests of BAAL killed….) Jezebel calls for his death.
Elijah was AFRAID (yes, this is the man that just called on God to reign fire from heaven to consume the alter…) and he ran for his life!
1 Kings 19:4
4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
Elijah had just experienced God feeding him by ravens, using him to feed a widow with the oil and grain that never ran out and also raising her child from the dead! (It’s all in 1 Kings 17) Now he is letting fear rule him and wants to die!
Sometimes we feel like giving up because we let fear overwhelm us.
Just like Elijah, we focus on ourselves and not on God. When he was focused on God, that’s when miraculous things happened. But when Elijah was focused on his own insecurity, inadequacies and NOT God’s strength, he wanted to give up!
Ladies, so it is with us! If we focus on what God can do in us and through us, we will see miraculous things! He can and WILL transform us from the inside out if we surrender to Him and focus on Him day by day.
Look at this!
When Elijah was wallowing under that tree, ready to give up and die, did God reprimand him? Did God tell Elijah that he just needed more willpower or that he should just ‘get his act together’? NO!
1 Kings 19:5-7
5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!”6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
God gave him food to strengthen him and allowed him to rest. He send an angel to help him and care for him. He didn’t tell Elijah that he had to do it all on his own.
God is telling us that today. He wants to feed us with so much more than what we can give ourselves. We no longer need to sit under that tree feeling like we haven’t done it right or that we should just give up.
We can cry out to God, even in our despair and He will answer. But we must give up doing this in our own strength. We must turn from ourselves and focus on HIM.
So, if you find yourself in the desert, under that tree and ready to give up, HEAR ME NOW:
I am in the middle of a “Praying 40 Promises in 40 Days” challenge. I really needed to take this on as a project because my morning time with the Lord was lacking since going from part-time employment to full-time. At least that was the excuse I used. So, I made a commitment and I am here to tell you that I am so glad I did. It is amazing what just a short time in the morning with the Lord does for your day. It has helped me deal with the frustrations of learning a new job and it has helped me stay within my eating boundaries. I am also being reacquainted with some much loved Scripture verses.
A recent promise was from Psalm 23:1. Don’t you just love the 23rd Psalm? I do. I think the 23rd Psalm is a favorite to many. It is probably the best known Psalm in the Bible for believers and even non-believers alike. It is the one that graces many funerals, and it is definitely a go to when we feel we are walking through a dark time. This is the Psalm many of us memorized as children and many of us can quote from heart (maybe not perfectly, but close enough). Which are the stanzas that are the most powerful for you? We love thinking of lying down in green pastures and being led beside still waters. I get strength for my soul when I read that He leads me and that even in a dark valley, I need not fear evil for He is with me and His rod and staff comfort me. I really love the visual of my cup running over. We love thinking about dwelling in the house of the Lord forever. Are you with me? What am I leaving out? Um…verse one. My journey in Thin Within/Hunger Within makes me believe that verse one is the most important. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Why do I gloss over this verse and go on to the others? Maybe I don’t really want to give up my wants? Maybe I am too comfortable in wanting what I don’t have? Maybe I am afraid to trust the Lord to give me what I think I need and want? Maybe I want to stay in control?
Look with me at the truth of these Holy Spirit inspired words. The first half of Psalm 23:1 talks about Jesus. He is my shepherd and your shepherd. A shepherd takes care of his flock. He feeds, cares and protects. A good shepherd would sometimes put himself in danger in order to go retrieve a lost sheep. This is a beautiful picture of our Lord Jesus Christ and how He loves and cares for us, even unto death for all of us who were once lost. The first half of this verse tells me Jesus’ part.
The second half of Psalm 23:1 is my part. I shall not want. With Jesus as my Shepherd, all my needs are taken care of by Him. If I still feel that I am lacking, then I might not be letting Him be the Shepherd of my life at all. If I am wanting more than what He has already provided for me then maybe I am following the wrong shepherd. Maybe I am trying to lead myself? I am remembering Isaiah 53:6 that says, we all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way.
I don’t want to be this sheep anymore. I want Jesus to be my Shepherd. I don’t want to feel that I am lacking anything. He has provided me with blessings beyond measure. I am ready to be led back into the pen. Doing it my own way is hard, and scary, and always leads me into trouble, and causes me to fall. My Hunger Within is telling me that I need my Savior who is like a Shepherd to lead me. So, Psalm 23:1b says,
“I shall not want…
What the world says is a perfect body
More food than my body needs
More exercise than what is moderate and healthy for me
A smaller size than the perfect one God has for me
The scraps off my family’s plates
To multi-task while eating
The goodies in the break-room just because they are there and everyone else is enjoying them because I am not hungry at the moment
To count points or calories or carbs
Dessert or seconds if I am no longer hungry
A snack just because I am watching TV or reading a book
a health issue that would force me to eat better (like that works in real life!)
Anything else that is not mine”
Lord Jesus, I am your sheep and I am prone to wander from Your care. I have wanted to walk on my own path instead of following You. Lord Jesus, I am so grateful that You were willing to go after me as I strayed and that You have brought me back into Your loving care. Lord, keep me close. I no longer want to do it my way! In Your name, I pray, Amen.
What about you? Are you ready to quit straying from the Shepherd that loves you to death? Will you join me in the sheep pen?
When I was a very young child, I didn’t think much about my shape, size or weight. I was blind to what the world said about how a girl should look. I was not self conscious about the way I looked but had self-confidence in myself. I simply didn’t know any different. I look back on that and realize it was a place of freedom.
I teach preschool Music and Movement classes so I see this freedom, confidence and contentment regarding body image every day. When preschoolers come to my classes, they jump, move and sing without any thought to how others see them or what anyone thinks of their bodies.
One example of this is when I had a very overweight student. When he would come to my classes, he could hardly get up off of the floor if he sat down. Despite this, he loved dancing, jumping and moving to the music! Not once was he embarrassed by how he looked while doing the movements. Even though he took longer to get up off of the floor, none of the other children even noticed!
What if I could see myself and other people in that childlike innocence? If I stopped comparing myself to what the world says is “beautiful”, maybe I wouldn’t be tempted to diet in order to have that “perfect body”.
But how do I do this when I am surrounded by a society that says only a size 4 is considered beautiful? Every day we are bombarded with media that screams “BE STICK SKINNY!” This is something I will never be! I am a curvy girl. Even at my smallest size, when I was TOO small by dieting like crazy and dealing with exercise bulimia, I had curves!
I have to decide whose opinion matters most.
The world will always see what they want to see. Society will always deem beauty as whatever the fickle fashion dictates. Do you know that 50-60 years ago there were ads to sell products to fatten you up?
That’s right! Being skinny was considered unattractive and being curvy was beautiful!
So, back to my question. Who is going to determine how I feel about myself? If I am beautiful? Whose opinion matters the most?
Well, God tells me many things about who I am in Him.
It is HIS opinion that matters most!
1 Samuel 16:7
The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.
I have loved you, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
2 Corinthians 5:17
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When I find my identity in Christ and His love, I can see myself as beautiful regardless of shape and size. I can eat within His beautiful boundaries of hunger and fullness regardless of what I look like.
That is freedom!
“Lord, help me to see myself as you see me: marvelously made.”
I’ve been thinking about the excuses I use to keep from doing what God is calling me to do. I know that I will make the time needed to do the things I want to do, but those things that He asks me to do that feel like stepping off a cliff, and I know I will have absolutely no control over the matter or the outcome, I tend to hold back and tell God that surely tomorrow will be early enough to take that jump. Our loving Father is good at asking us to step out of our comfort zones! I know that is where I experience the most growth, but it is still uncomfortable and too easy to put off. I can’t help but remember all the times I have said that I will start my diet tomorrow, or I’ll eat healthier tomorrow, or I’ll start going to the gym or working out or give up this favorite food because it is so bad for me or start eating that non-favorite food just because EVERYONE is saying it is a “super food” and so good for me that I just have to add it to my daily eating plan. Do you get the gist? Do you identify? There is an old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Thank the Lord that I am not on that road, but my good intentions have never gotten me to where I want to be. And if I’m honest with myself, those good intentions are nothing more than excuses. Did you know that in Ecclesiastes 11:4 it tells us that if we wait for the perfect time, we will never get anything done? And, do you know that God’s boundaries of eating within hunger and satisfaction don’t come with all the rules I listed above? Those good intentions leave me in bondage while God’s boundaries lead me into freedom.
So what happens in my life when I constantly say, “I’ll start tomorrow” or “next week” or “after this event or that celebration” (because we cannot possibly start eating “right” when we know we have a huge party or get-together on the horizon!)? When I say these things I am looking forward. The first problem with this is that I am not living in today. I have this terrible habit of playing out scenarios in my mind of “what if…” I can have a whole movie going on in my mind. You may be thinking, what’s wrong with that? Let me tell you. When I do this with planning way ahead, my focus isn’t on today and what needs to be done today. What is playing out in my head may not even happen. I look ahead for roadblocks that will make it impossible to move forward with God’s eating plan. The biggest problem is that there will always be roadblocks. I will always find an excuse to not start today. How sad that I forget God and His promise that He will always give a way out of temptation.
What happens when I say, “I’ll start later”? I never start. Is this your story too? Saying this sets me up for failure no matter what, and what I am really saying is, “If I can’t do it, then I am also not going to allow God to do it.” Ouch!! It hurts to even remember the times I’ve said such things.
Do we think that God would give us permission and grace by telling us, “Yes, eat as much as possible tonight, and tomorrow you can start being good at following the boundaries I have set for you? No, He wouldn’t for He tells us to be holy as He is holy. (All over Leviticus, and my favorite in Hebrews 12:14) Why do we give ourselves permission to do this same thing?
What does God’s Word say to me about putting off doing what His plan is for me? In Romans 13:14 I read that I need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy fleshly desires. So when I keep putting off what I need to do and what God wants me to do, I am doing nothing more or less than planning to satisfy my greedy flesh that in its natural state wants more than its fair share. In 1 Peter 2:11, I am urged to live in this world as an alien and a temporary resident and to abstain from fleshly desires that war against me. Yes, it is a war, and so much of my time has been spent trying to fight it. And I hate to say this, but I wasn’t fighting very hard. My flesh wouldn’t let me.
I want to live the rest of my life with the phrase “I’ll start tomorrow” removed from my vocabulary. I want to live the rest of my life committed to God’s lifelong boundaries. It won’t be easy, but I want to see what my life will look like. I want to see what plans God has in store for me and the only way I will see is with a clear head that is no longer living in a food fog. I know that God wants me to make this commitment because in doing so, I am letting go of the reins and handing them over to the only ONE that can do more than I could ever hope or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
Dear God, my Creator and the Lover of my soul, create in me a pure heart that seeks to honor You above all, with my mind, my heart, my soul, my words and my food. Lord God, break the strongholds of overeating and putting off till later what needs to be done now. Break the idols of food focus and procrastination in my heart. Remove from my lips the words, “I’ll start tomorrow.” I want to live in the now in total surrender to You. I want nothing in my life that is held above You or that I run to instead of You. You are my Strong Tower. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
How about you? Are you ready to remove “I’ll start tomorrow” from your vocabulary? Are you willing to pray with me for God’s plan to be worked out in your life? I’ve jumped off that cliff. Will you join me? Our loving Father is there with His arms opened wide to catch us.