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