Objectionable Obligation or Inviting Opportunity?

[Inspired by Terri Graham]

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!!! )



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, ‘Come and talk with me, 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?

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10 Responses to Objectionable Obligation or Inviting Opportunity?

  1. Carol Payne June 17, 2017 at 7:17 am #

    Yes, I often find it hard to wait for zero. Especially when I’m feeling deprived in any other way. Those of us who have an issue with food tend to eat for so many reasons other than hunger. Naturally thin people feel sad when they’re sad. They feel happy when they’re happy. They feel angry when they’re angry. They feel stressed when they’re stressed. We eat. Most of us come from families that comforted and rewarded and celebrated with food. So food means a lot more to us than physical hunger and satisfaction. I remember when I first read the original Thin Within, back in the 80s. It was such an exciting concept after years of trying one fad diet after another, always failing and gaining back more than I’d lost. I was absolutely thrilled at the idea that I could eat anything I wanted and enjoy it to the full as long as I waited for true hunger and stopped eating as soon as I was satisfied. Although that book wasn’t openly Christian, it made perfect sense to me as a Christian that God created our bodies with the balance needed to discern hunger and satisfaction inborn. What Judy said about babies stopping when their bodies had had enough and the fact that you can’t get a baby to eat beyond that point made perfect sense. Of course God, who made our bodies, would create them with the wisdom to know how to maintain a healthy weight! It was so exciting because I’d never heard that concept before. And because I was so excited, I began to use that amazing wisdom the very first day I learned about it. I remember waiting for most of that day to eat, to make sure I was really hungry. And it was definitely an exciting opportunity, not a chore. I was trying this new thing that made more sense than anything I’d ever tried before. And I knew as soon as I read about it that it was the truth! So it did seem like such a privilege to apply that truth. I remember the first thing I ate was a few spoonfuls of cookie dough as I was making cookies for my kids. It was what I truly wanted, I was at zero and I don’t think I ever enjoyed eating anything more in my life…well maybe with the exception of the first few bites of food as a child after I’d been outside playing for hours and came in to dinner ravenous. But back then we always had to clean our plates to get dessert. Great training for overeating by parents who grew up during the Depression! Anyway, life and all it’s ups and downs, pain, disappointments, suffering and family gatherings based around favorite foods, intervenes. And so we fall back into those old, familiar, comfortable patterns of eating for every reason under the sun but hunger. And we resent having to wait for that zero. So today I’m praying for that original excitement and amazement and freedom I felt when I first discovered Thin Within and realized what a gift God had given me. During that first week of getting it and doing 0-5 eating, I lost a dress size! And I didn’t look back until I was at my high school weight! I know I can get back there with the Lord’s help, even though I’m now 65 and find it harder to lose the weight. I can do it with the Lord’s help. I’m going to try reading His Word when I’m tempted to eat when I’m not at zero. It’s worked for me before.

    • Barb Shelton June 18, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your heart and experiences, Carol!!!!!! You are right, at age 65 (which I’ll be next month), it IS harder to lose the excess weight!!! Thank you for encouraging ME today!!!

      [Have you considered blogging?!?! You write well, and a lot (probably without even trying, like me!), and you have some really good stuff to share!!!]

  2. Mar Osborn June 17, 2017 at 7:49 am #

    Thanks Barb for your honesty, AND for “taking the time” (lol – worth it, worth it!) to write and share this with us. I thank Barb S. and Heidi for their honest sharing and caring. I am not on f/b, so I REALLY appreciate these posts. To Heidi: I received an automated-email with your new video (but it’s not posted here on the TW posts, so I’m commenting here) – thanks for sharing it via email, as well, because – again, I’m not on f/b. Bless you both, and please keep posting! May we all keep our faces in the Word, because the Word IS Jesus – and renew, renew, renew, and renew our minds, because until Jesus comes back, the old man is not going anywhere, so Romans 12:2 is what I live by every day.

    • Barb Shelton June 17, 2017 at 11:10 am #

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Mar!!!!! <3 What a sweet blessing to read your sweet post this morning!!! (I will make sure Heidi sees this too!!! I loooooooooooove her Heart-to-Heart's (and Christina's Porch Chats), too!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Brenda Hogan June 17, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    Wow Barb! You hit a big heart issue with me 24 yrs ago(homescooling thru highschool) and this is another struggling issue! Thankyou for your heart over the years and the encouragement you have given to so many!

    • Barb Shelton June 18, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

      Oooooh, Brenda!!!!!!! [teary eyes!!!] You are SOOOO welcome, but thank YOU for your encouraging words today!!!!!!! You have blessed me very deeply and sweetly!!!!!!!! <3

  4. Pam Bristol June 19, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    This was very timely for me. I have been struggling with the 0-5 concept and the picture of the baby and the pacifier really hit home. I have been trying to figure out why this is so hard for me, and that really made it plain. I am like a child having to give up something that is a crutch. Funny thing is, I really don’t need a crutch. I am learning to turn to Christ in all things (and I am not perfect in this, by the way) but continue to struggle with the food thing.
    For me, the problem is, in my family, food was a way to show love. I have conversations with my mom on a daily basis, and, after starting this program, I have noticed one of the first things she asks is “What did you have for dinner tonight?”. Then she tells me about all the things she cooked…for my brother, my nephew, my great nephew, and the people at her church, and how her cooking is so much better than anyone else’s. Truly her way to show love. However, food doesn’t “love” back. By the way, my mom is not overweight, she just thinks she is!
    Bottom line, God’s love is shown to me in many ways, overeating is not one of them. However, some of the truly delicious choices in food, eaten in moderation, are something enjoyable provided for me if I wait on Him to give it to me. Like a child demanding love and attention from a parent, food is the answer when I am wanting love on my own terms.
    Moving forward with a new outlook. Thank you for sharing.

    • Barb Shelton June 20, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

      You are SO welcome, Pam!!!! And thank YOU for sharing your insights and discoveries in this little leg of getting set free from the stronghold of food!! Rejoicing with you on this eye-opening journey!!! <3 😀

  5. Michelle June 22, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

    Hi Barb- These blogs of yours and Deanna’s keep being like little zingers. I wanted to be in Heidi and Christina’s summer coaching group but it was not to be. I find it harder to STOP than to WAIT. And I had that thought about my flesh wanting what it wants and NOW. (And HOW!) just this morning. The other night I wanted Coke, and I wanted it So much that I was depressed. My Truth Cards have become a ministry and yet they take a long time to create. Just wanted to say hi.

    • Barb July 4, 2017 at 10:39 am #

      Hi, Michelle! Thank you SO much for your sweet and vulnerable comments!!! 💕❤️💕 Hey, if you are in the Thin Within Discussion and Support group on FB, we should share our truth cards in there! That way we kind of get double mileage out of them! I’ll be looking for yours, and you be looking for mine, OK? 😄

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