This journey is filled with a variety of challenges. Some take us by surprise. Some are of our own doing. Some…both!
On Monday, I asked you to celebrate victories that God is doing by posting here to share with us. Could it be that you feel like that request may be terrific for someone else, but you feel like you haven’t seen any victories? Or maybe you feel like the setbacks have been so HUGE that they eclipse any sense that you might have had of forward progress?
If you feel stuck…like you can’t seem to string together several consecutive baby steps…I believe that you may be stumbling over a root. On a jungle trek, without warning, a root can change the nature of the excursion if it is stumbled over. Tripping over a hidden root causes pain, suffering and a need for rest, ice, and ibuprofen! Right there in the middle of somewhere. Forward progress just can’t happen until it is dealt with.
The root that I wonder about for me and for you is…well…bitterness.
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.
Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness
grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
– Hebrews 12:15 NLT
I think we trip over this root a lot on our Thin Within journey. Then, we sit down and grind it up and make it into a tea and drink it!
It’s POISONOUS! If there is any chance that this is going on in our lives, we want to deal with it.
I know that forgiveness is a common teaching. We are taught in church and many secular programs that we need to receive forgiveness from God, from others, and extend it to others as well. That’s great.
But the root of bitterness that I am speaking of is one that I don’t see mentioned often. Yet I believe it exists for many of us. No, maybe “good little bible study girls” (and boys) aren’t supposed to feel this way. But to be honest, we do. I know from first hand experience that it can cause us not to be able to make the progress we could. Until we remove it, we may be stuck. Or we may feel like we keep bumping up against a dead end.
This isn’t your typical root of bitterness, though. It’s the root of bitterness toward …
(I am a bit nervous about saying this so boldly… you may think I am one of those reckless arm-chair theologians or, worse…you may feel I am some sort of heretic.)
It’s the root of bitterness we have toward… God.
Yes, you read right.
Many of us, many times, have bitterness that we harbor toward the Lord of the Universe.
Many of us feel like God has done us wrong.
No wait…before you blow me off as being off my nut :-), consider this!
We know in our heads that God does not actually DO any wrong, but we struggle with what He has assigned to us, at times. We feel like He has expected just too much of us. Maybe He gave us parents that were abusive, a husband that abandoned the faith (or that claimed to be a Christian and never was), a child who died of cancer, or no husband, wife, or child at all when that is what we have longed for so desperately. Maybe He gave us a boss who belittles us or a sister who grabbed the inheritance and ran, just as the bills were coming due. Whatever it may be…is there any way that you feel like God has asked just too much of you?
Or, are you all good with it? “God is God and I am not, so whatever he assigns me in life is fine.” Can you say those words? If I am truthful, right now I can’t.
Why am I referring to this as a root of bitterness that may trip you up on your Thin Within journey?
Well, because if there is some way that you feel God has “done you wrong,” then trusting Him with your food and your body might be just too much of a stretch. You may resent Him too much to give this over to Him to guide you and direct you.
If you know my testimony, you know that I first became aware of 0 to 5 eating in 1999 and began writing Thin Within material in 2000. I worked closely with the Hallidays in generating the Thin Within book manuscript in 2001/2002. Yet, it wasn’t until 2006 that everything that I knew and wrote about “clicked.” Prior to that, I would release some weight and then grab a hold of it again. 2 steps forward and 2 back. It didn’t feel like there was any forward progress.
The catalyst for the change that occurred in 2006, was God showing me that I was angry … at Him. I resented Him for what He had assigned to me. You see, I had dealt with the horrible upbringing I had, the sexual abuse, physical abuse and so on and so on–I had forgiven a boatload of people and released them to God’s hand, but it seemed plain IMPOSSIBLE that God would assign to me, a woman who had never seen decent parenting in action in my own life when I was a child, the responsibility of being a mom to a special needs child. When Daniel was born in 1992, within six weeks, I knew in my spirit that God had assigned me the challenging role of parenting a child on the autism spectrum.
I have a VERY different view of this now than I did back then, but back then, I figured being a parent at ALL would be hard enough. I lived in fear that I would abuse my own children just as my parents had me and their parents had them…I feared that I would just be one more generation of abuser in my family. I am so very grateful to my husband for his tender love, care, and demonstration of a different way to parent than the one that I knew. He and my precious mother-in-law made a difference that has transformed our family tree–I believe that.
But it didn’t mean that parenting a child on the autism spectrum was easy. It wasn’t. In 2006, 100 pounds overweight and fearful of dying from a stroke or heart attach, I decided it was time to really deal with my overeating, I lamented “What is WRONG with me that I can’t give You my eating, God?!?” He plainly impressed upon my heart, “You don’t trust Me. You resent Me for Daniel.” OUCH.
I didn’t want to submit to the Lord because I held this against Him. I felt that God had done me wrong even though I knew that God does no wrong. It just simply seemed like far too much to expect of me. It was a root of bitterness that I was tripping over again and again.
God and I began to deal with this a bit at a time. It wasn’t easy, but I began to develop a tender heart for God and whatever he ordained in my life–including being the mother of an autistic son. It didn’t seem fair to Daniel and that was hard for me, too, but through the nudging of the Holy Spirit and a conversation with a wonderful woman in my church who had dealt with being the mom of a special needs child so beautifully (about Daniel’s age, too), my heart began to soften.
He used two songs to really nudge me to a place of releasing my hold on MY will, MY way. One, Steven Curtis Chapman’s God is God, and the other Draw Me Close by Kutless. It didn’t happen all at once, but over time. I did, however, need to come to a point of decision. “God, You are God and I am NOT.”
Can you relate? Is there something down deep inside of you that you resent God for appointing to you or, if you don’t like that way of thinking of it, that He has “allowed?”
I believe that this can trip you again and again on your life’s journey–not just with Thin Within and applying the principles to break free from obsession with food, eating, and weight, but even more generally.
If this resonates for you, I urge you to sit down with God for a bit. Ask Him to help you to see with His eyes. Ask Him to give you His perspective on whatever it is He has seen fit to be a part of your life.
The truth is, what we see and experience on this planet is but a tiny “blip” on our eternal timeline. God takes the blip of time on this planet and uses it to create something that will be for glory for ETERNITY. It is hard to fathom because we are creatures who are SO linear and bound by time and space. But the reality is–this is NOT all there is. There is SO much more.
This is why the Scriptures tell us again and again to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. And that our trials on this planet are accomplishing for us an eternal glory that far surpasses them all. And fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross and scorned its shame. And set our minds on things above where Christ is seated. When Christ, who is our life appears, we will also appear with Him in glory.
These are just off the top of my head. There is so much more than what we see or think or feel on this planet.
But if we resent God for what he has ordained for us on this planet, we will miss so much of what He intends…the good stuff. The joy. Even in the pain.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
– Psalm 73:21-26 NIV
Wow Heidi! Thanks for sharing this as God has led it to really touch my heart & make me think to ask myself if I also have this root of bitterness. I’ve never asked myself that before.
I’ve really been struggling this past year & a half. I was doing well and released alot of weight but regained all but 5lbs. I’ve been yo-yo ing and feel like you said, one step forward two steps back! I’ve been feeling frustrated and confused. I’ve been all over the place with my efforts.
Truly asking myself if I’m bitter towards God today, I surprisingly figured out, yes I am. I’ve never thought of it that way before. I was doing well then suddenly on my journey I honestly kept feeling like I was starving & wasnt allowed to have much food. I was bitter because I felt like God was being mean to me and starving me. I really wasnt starving myself. I just kept telling myself I was but really it was hard to get used to small amounts. I wanted to be in control and be like everyone else who could lose and eat large amounts of food.
That’s such a lie from the enemy. God would never do that to me. The truth is God will give me my daily portion. God will keep me safe. God’s way works for me releasing weight. God’s way doesnt make me eat yucky foods like fat free salad dressings! lol! Small amounts of regular foods are tasty, enjoyable, a blessing & healthy.
I see its more about the food, the food amounts, losing weight. It’s about drawing closer to God.I get to learn not to be greedy for food.
God will comfort me & I’m not alone. He will always be with me. I’ve looked to others to comfort me & keep me company. I am free to lean on God for that and he’ll always come thru for me.
It is my time to deal with this and trust God with my body, my food, my overeating, my life. I’ve seen my family deal with many health issues. I dont want to go down that path.
Praising God for you and your blog and praising God for opening my eyes!!!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!
Wow Michelle. Thanks for sharing. I’ve read your reply twice now. What you say at the end is so true! He is not mean, He is our daily portion, He will give us our daily bread, and we are no longer “required” to eat fat free anything! God has revealed to me that greed and covetousness are attitudes that do exist in my heart – and they have their toeholds and do not want to give up – but God can heal and I know that He is faithful.
Heidi – thanks, as always, for sharing
Hi, Michelle. I wanted to follow up and ask you if your time being still with God asking about this was fruitful for you? I am in a season of ongoing challenge and I know this is impacting my obedience a lot. I have been pouring out my heart to God about my frustration with my circumstances (figuring that he can take it!), but surrender seems so hard. I know that peace and joy is found in that place of submitting to His authority and his will. I don’t want to attempt to usurp his authority in my life. NO way! Thanks, by the way, for your kind words. It means so much to me.
This post made me cry and I’m not sure why. Possibly because there is some latent bitterness in my heart that God wants me to recognize. Thank you Heidi for sharing this part of your story. I also found it to be a HUGE encouragement that you started Thin Within in 1999 but it didn’t really “click” until 7 years later! 7 years! That gives me hope that my on-again-off-again Thin Within mentality might click too one of these days.
I’m crying right now and I’m not sure why…possibly because there is some latent bitterness in my heart that God wants to bring to light? Thank you for sharing this part of your story! I also found it to be a HUGE source of encouragement to learn that you started Thin Within in 1999 but it didn’t really “click” for 7 more years! That gives me hope that my on-again-off-again mentality will eventually align with His and this whole 0-5 eating will “click” for me too!
Hi, Becky. I hope that you were comforted by the Lord during this time. I think your guess is likely spot on. I hope that you were able to take time to sit alone with him and to welcome him shedding light on this for you. LOL! Yes, I figure if God could finally get a hold of me, he could get a hold of ANYONE! No one could possibly be as “hard” a case as me! Yes, it WILL “click” for you, too! 🙂
What an encouragement your story is!
God is Doing a New Thing wrote: > Heidi Bylsma posted: ” This journey is filled with a variety of > challenges. Some take us by surprise. Some are of our own doing. > Some…both! On Monday, I asked you to celebrate victories that God is > doing by posting here to share with us. Could it be that you feel like ” >
Thanks, Norma. You are such a blessing in my life. I am thankful for you.
Thanks Heidi..I never figured that I could have a root of bitterness toward God..but I have been disappointed in the outcome of a prayer I have been praying for my daughter..She moved to NC only 2 hours from me..She is an LPN looking for a job for 8 months now..She keeps getting turned away..She has excellent references…
When filling out the forms for her NC Nursing License, she failed to let them know that she had a DUI 8 yrs ago..She didn’t feel it was necessary, since she had a clean NY State driver’s license and nursing license..The nursing board put a reprimand on her nursing license and we think that may be the cause of her not securing a job..The last couple of months she has been traveling back and forth to her old job in NY, because she needed to pay her bills..I have prayed 24/7 that God would find favor with her and that she would secure a job; that this reprimand would be overlooked…She is totally miserable, and instead of running to God, she has lost whatever faith she had..It has caused more of a separation..She is already a Prodigal..I am not angry at God..I know He has a purpose in this, and I know His ways are not our ways..I know He has a plan..I know all of this in my head and in my heart, but I just don’t understand…and yes, I know that I probably never will…
Anyway..I am thinking that this may be the reason that after losing 63 # this last 18 months; that I have been at a stand still for the last 5-6 weeks..Lose 1 gain 2…lose 2 gain 1..I have had times of “mindless” eating….Something I need to pray about..
Hi, Barbi, my friend. The sovereignty of God in situations like this is baffling, isn’t it? It makes you wonder what he is up to? You will understand one day when we land in heaven and he makes all things clear. It is sooooo hard to trust right now, even with our grown children! God is at work in you, my friend…doing a new thing. It may feel challenging and joyless, but I have to believe that he means what he says. He makes streams in the desert and a way in the wasteland. We may not perceive it, but he IS DOING it!
Thanks so much for your words of encouragement..I know He is working behind the scenes, and whatever happens will be to His glory!..Luv N Hugs..
Heidi – thank you for your transparency and honesty. I think many of us relate to harboring roots of bitterness toward God, yet it feels so shameful to admit it. =-) How wonderful you are to share this!
Hi, Kathleen. Your statement “…yet it feels so shameful to admit it” really jumped off the page for me. Yes…it DOES feel shameful. I think that is why we don’t often speak about it. But if the principle in John 8 is true…the one that Jesus speaks of…that the truth sets us free, I really believe when we admit the truth, we are on the road that will lead us to freedom. Thank you for your kind words, too.
I thank you for this post and the ladies that replied. I have been trying to figure out why I have been repeating the pattern of 0-5 for 3 weeks and then volume and then again and again a 3 week period of obedience and volume. This is a new area for me to go! Thank you for a direction to investigate with God. I’m tired of this stumbling block and the repetition of it.
Hi, Tamara. I hope that God has shown you the stumbling block specifically and that you have been able to dismantle it. I know that bitterness or resentment against God is, in my case, something I have to keep dealing with again and again. I can “know” that God is good and yet I struggle with the means by which he exercises that “goodness.” I just wish that he would try a different approach…I feel like the tactics he has for accomplishing his will in my life will undo me and I just want to go be with Jesus! “Beam me up, Scotty!” (to quote Captain Kirk in Star Trek).
Thank you very much for this post and your honesty in sharing it is truly God’s word for me for now. I prayed about my struggles and the pattern of 0-5 for a day of two and then back to do just nothing not gaining weight but also not losing weight. God is speaking to me and showing me my heart and He also showed me this week that being overweight and and staying overweight is a form of self harm because of an abusive upbringing. I processed much of my life but today I know I am struggling with a root of bitterness against god for the cup He gave me to drink.
Hi, Dodiani. Thank you for your post. YES! I think that is a big one for people like you and me. When we have experienced abuse in our past, it is like abuse — as much as we may want to be free of it — is so familiar that we just keep being drawn to it…and when we don’t end up in abusive relationships, we abuse ourselves. Isn’t that just so odd? I hope that you are experiencing the alleviating of that burden, Dodiani. Thank you so much for sharing your insights.
Thanks for sharing your heart Heidi. All of your posts have encouraged me to go on –sometimes one thinks that it is just me that struggles with these thoughts and stronglholds… I, too, believe there are definite roots that keep me stuck in gluttony. I have to think for a bit on this…
Hi, Marie. I pray that God gives you insight to see and root out whatever it is that is hindering you, my friend!