In the summer of 2001, I began to work through the material in the Thin Again book. (This is NOT the Thin Within book, as the Christian version of that wasn’t published until 2002.)
I had read through Thin Again, but hadn’t processed the questions at the end of each chapter. I knew God was calling me to take time to allow him to heal me. There were reasons that I struggled with this cycle of eating, gaining, pulling myself up by my bootstraps and dieting, losing a lot of weight, only to start the cycle again. By insisting that it was all about my rebellious choice to sin (something that I felt WDW taught in error), I hadn’t dealt with some root issues.
God used the summer of 2001 to walk me through the valley of the shadow of death. I discovered that at the root of my tendency to overeat was bitterness, anger, lack of forgiveness. Many might not understand how these things could be attached to overeating. Throughout my life, I had experienced abuse and early on I had taken on some coping mechanisms for that. I had to own my responsibility for choosing behaviors that didn’t honor God, yes, but I began to see that there were underlying reasons this was something so challenging for me.
God gently but firmly led me to face into all the wrongs done to me…I journaled each and every occurrence of anything that I could think of that had wounded my heart. From my earliest years to just moments ago. Some might say this is self-indulgent. All I know is that God led me to do this. He led me to journal specifically that I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE EACH AND EVERY ONE. He led me to make this leap of faith…that he would enable me to do it.
In this, there was great healing. Because I chose with every painful memory to journal how each offense made me feel, I cried my way through that summer finding comfort and rest only in the arms of the Lord. Choosing to forgive, however, was like unlocking the shackles that had held me.
God used a Thin Again friend I had made in a Yahoo group to help me to go through this process…something that Thin Again calls “unwrapping grave clothes.” This precious sister was there to pray me through this process, to hold me accountable for pressing on, to spur me on to love now in the present, to continue to choose to forgive, even as I faced into past wrongs.
In all of this, I also had to choose to forgive myself for sins I had committed against others, against myself, against God. I know that 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of ALL unrighteousness, but somehow, I managed to resent MYSELF. I even resented God! Not only did I need to choose to let God be God (“forgive” him, in a sense), but I had to confess that arrogance to him as well.
As you can see, this is a multi-layered issue…thus the imagery of unwrapping graveclothes like when Lazarus stepped forth from the grave when Jesus raised him from the dead. The Lord was raising ME from the grave of past wrongs, bitterness, lack of forgiveness…and I needed the help of others to unwrap the graveclothes just as Lazarus did before I could experience the life that Jesus intended.
God did an amazing work through this. He established a truth in my life for me that I couldn’t deny. Almost without question, even now 12 years later when I revert to “that which I do not want to do is that which I do” with regards to eating, it almost always indicates that I am feeling wounded and am in need of forgiving someone. During that summer, I learned just how powerful choosing to forgive really is.
Today, if I struggle with rebellious eating, my current accountability partner knows to ask me “Who do you need to forgive?” It is a powerful truth in my life that bitterness, wounding, and lack of forgiveness are directly connected with overeating.
You can probably do the math, however. If I learned that in the summer of 2001, how was I at 250 pounds five years later–in the summer of 2006 when my “before” picture was taken? 🙂
More on that the next time…
Part 3 of Heidi’s TW Testimony is here…