When I ran the San Francisco Marathon in 1996, I vividly remember crossing the starting line. You see, I knew that my speed would be…well…not speedy. So I “strategically” placed myself at the back of the pack. As we waited for the “starting gun” to signal the begin of the “race,” the fog shrouding the Golden Gate Bridge  was an accurate portrayal of what I had felt looking forward to this day for six months. There was no doubt that I was fit enough. I had trained hard. But the partner that was planning on running my first marathon with me had bailed out at the last minute due to a family emergency. Could I actually do it without someone there to be accountable to? I was so afraid of failure, that even being willing to start was a big deal. As I crossed the starting line, tears streamed down my face. You would have thought that I had won. In fact, I wanted to scream “I WIN! I WIN!” I had overcome my fear of failure and had actually crossed the starting line! The rest didn’t matter to me!

As hard as getting started was, it would have nevertheless been anticlimactic to quit a mile into it. Sometimes getting started IS tough. But sometimes once we get started, it is tough to keep going, one foot in front of the other.

I have been doing a “series” here at the blog on “How to Begin.” This is for those new to the “non-diet” approach or for those of us who just need to re-start…begin again again, sort of thing. 🙂

There are 5 parts to this series (sort of) and this blog entry is actually sort of a part 6 of that, but rather than call it part 6 of How to Begin, it occurred to me that really this post is about continuing…which is something we have to learn to do every day (maybe every hour) for the rest of our lives.

If you have read the other parts of this series, then, I assume that you are waiting 5 minutes when feeling drawn to food. Or that is what I challenged all of us to do.

And, as you wait, you are asking God “What is this pull to food about?” The various possibilities are first and foremost:

“I am drawn to food right now because I am physically hungry and my body needs fuel.” <–This is the answer we WANT if we are going to eat, of course! 🙂

So basically, the answer to “Am I physically hungry?” is “Yes” or “No.”

I have suggested waiting 5 minutes with the Lord asking him this question because if you are physically hungry, it typically won’t kill us 🙂 to wait 5 more minutes to feed the need for food.

However, if we aren’t physically hungry, we may have lots of other answers to the question of “What is this lure to food about?”

This post addresses what to do next if your answer to the “Why am I drawn to food right now” question is answered with *anything* other than “Because I am physically hungry.”

I shared with you some of my answers to this question. Here is the rub…when I am in the place where any number of other answers may be the honest one, I typically don’t *want* to wait 5 minutes! In fact, the very fact that I “can’t” wait 5 minutes may be evidence of what is really going on! That I am not physically in need! We tend to put physical needs off so much of the time without being bothered by it. For instance, when was the last time you knew you really should go to the doctor about something or other, but you put it off? With physical hunger, we have a way of being able to put things on hold for a minute without freaking out about it. (Not always, but often.)

So if 5 minutes spent with the Lord before eating seems impossible, then 1.) You aren’t alone 2.) Consider that an early warning that something other than physical need is likely going on…Instead of eating immediately, I put off eating for a mere 5 minutes. Imagine with me that I have the luxury of actually sitting down some place alone (this isn’t necessary, as you can go through the thought/prayer process in your head in the company of people any time at all) with my journal. This is what I might write.

Ok, Lord…here I am. I am thinking about those chocolate muffins and I am ready to go eat half of one right now. But, out of obedience, I will wait 5 minutes and I choose to take the time now to ask you…what is this desire for food about?

Imagine with me that I then consider my stomach…do I have the hollow feeling in it that I have come to associate with physical hunger? Well, no. Not really…No, not at all. I continue to write/pray/journal:

Lord, I can tell that I am not physically hungry yet, so I must be lured to food for some reason other than physical need. Please show me what this is about. Please meet me here. I want to know truth. You have said that knowing the truth will set me free. I want freedom so badly in this, Lord.

As I sit in His presence, he shows me what is going on…

Lord, I have been busting my tail around here lately. No one seems to notice or care. In fact, they seem bent on making my job a bigger one by messing up things just as soon as I get them cleaned up or fixed up. I have worked hard and I deserve something to make me feel good.

At this point, it is really important that I speak what is really going on. As “spoiled baby” as it may sound to actually type that up (here) or write it in a journal or to say it in a prayer to God, this is what is going on! If I am truthful about it, it really does help me to see things more clearly.

It is important then, to declare this for what it is in the presence of God. Again, you can do this prayerfully any time any place in the presence of any one…or alone, with a bible, journal, pen in hand…or anything in between.

Lord, I see that I am believing a lie. I know you desire that I bring this feeling to you. Help me to see the truth about my attitude. Lord, I need to ask you to help others to be more thoughtful. Help me to do what I do out of a heart that wants to serve as if I am serving YOU, my Master, Lord. Help me to be loving…not to do something out of a sense of obligation, or false guilt. I see that these feelings are what are stirring me up…and the most important thing, Lord, is that shoveling half a muffin down my face will NOT make me feel better. Or if it does, it will be fleeting. I will be left with the same feeling I have had that people have done wrong to me and I will be upset at myself for stuffing food in my face.

It is here that I have discovered a vital, life-changing truth…this may not sound like fun–truthfully, it isn’t, but it will TRANSFORM THIS JOURNEY for you! I have to realize my own need to take captive my thoughts toward these folks.  Just allowing these thoughts to run away with me takes ME captive to do things and to think things I wish I wouldn’t. Here is the thing that will transform everything…I really believe this. At least it has for me. I must choose to forgive the people that I am resentful towards for being thoughtless and uncaring. In fact, I can choose to do this even while they continue the behavior and ask the Lord if I should have godly boundaries in place, too, so that I don’t continue to return to the same situation again and again in a way that doesn’t honor him or help others (or myself). 

In fact, if I see that I have an out-of-proportion response to people…I am really angry over something that, if I step back, seems rather minor (wrong, but minor nevertheless), it may be that God is allowing this situation to show me that there is something unresolved from my past affecting my ability to function in a spiritually and emotionally healthful way in the present. And this can affect my desire to eat!

Can I do something about this in the mere 5 minutes that I have suggested we wait before eating? Well, ideally, once I discover that my lure to food is NOT about a physical need and I begin to analyze why I am drawn to food, I will give attention to whatever needs attention instead of the false “solution” that food offers. If I am praying or have a journal that I am writing in, I might continue with…

Lord, it is obviously a lie for me to think that food will somehow make me feel better about this situation. What will actually make the difference is if I choose to forgive these people for their thoughtlessness. Lord please show me if I need to establish any godly boundaries and if my reaction to these people is at all rooted in things in my past or in my own behavior right now. Please help me to own it. Lord, you alone are sufficient to enable me to make it through this moment without turning to food. Show me, Lord, what I must do to feed the true need I have. Lord, I choose to forgive…and please forgive me for…

Hopefully, when we give even a little bit of time to this process, we experience a sense of deep satisfaction that goes beyond anything food could do when we are not physically hungry.

Some may think this is making a huge deal out of nothing. If that describes you, then try to figure out why you keep doing the same thing again and again (over-eating) and expect a different result…the fact is, if I keep feeding my emotions or agitated thoughts with food, I will continue to struggle with godliness in this area and with my size physically–not to mention all the health concerns that can go with carrying too much weight.

Phew! This was a long blog entry. Tomorrow maybe I will be able to get on to the other possibilities I have listed so far for me. Many of them are related to this very thing.

I would love to hear if any of this is helpful, but then, maybe God is just having me write all of this for my own benefit!