And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (The Message)
How did I get here again? I really thought I had figured it all out last time and I was going to be free and clear to enjoy my new life, my new body. To be able to shop without tears, to get up and get ready for the day without dreading the getting dressed part… to be able to go on vacation without fear of the same old thoughts- What will I wear? What will people say when they see I’ve gained the weight back yet again. Y’all, it’s exhausting! This battle satan and I have had for the past 26 years just gets so darn old sometimes and really makes me what to give up. But it’s when I’m at the end of my rope- yet again- that I feel that gentle nudge to return to God…to go to the only One who can help me with this struggle.
Those of you that know me well, know my weight has been a struggle most of my life. I can claim with almost certainty that I am the “Biggest Loser”. I have lost and gained, and lost more weight in the past 26 years that I care to admit. I’ve done it all…the programs, the self help books, I even went as far as to try to listen to some silly cd that was supposed to hypnotize me into a better body. Yet, here I am again- on the road to “recovery”. My biggest struggle is an internal one- a question that nags me each and every day… How can you, Shelley, lead a health and wellness ministry when you can’t get yourself together for more than a few months? Well, I may not have it all together all the time, but I can say that each time I fall I learn something new and these falls are getting fewer and farther between .
This past winter nearly did me in. I struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and between that and a lot of stress that our family was under (good stuff but stress none-the-less) I found myself running to my place of comfort- food. I hate that this is my struggle. If it was alcohol I could steer clear of the bars, if gambling- the casinos… but food? We have to eat to survive. I’m in the midst of reading, “The Look that Kills, An Anorexic’s Addition to Control” by Michelle Myers. I haven’t struggled with anorexia or bulimia in over 11 years now- praise Jesus! But, the emotions that are tied to food are still there. I read a line that stopped me dead in my tracks, “Satan has a way of sugar coating our disobedience so it doesn’t sound as bad as it actually is.” Whoa!! Wait a minute…this food thing- it’s not just a little thing. I just have a crazy sweet-tooth, or I do so much good everywhere else and take care of this family…what’s the big deal if I want a bowl of ice cream every night? The big deal comes when you look at the sin part- eating in and of itself isn’t a sin. It’s necessary. But lets look at the work “Gluttony”.
Websters Dictionary defines it as
1: Excess in eating or drinking
2: Greedy or excessive indulgence (an indulgence is something you do even though it has negative consequences.)
So the problem isn’t the food or the eating, it’s how we eat. How much we eat. The reasons behind why we eat. Satan can make this little problem look like just that- something minor. But the truth of the matter is it is a sin. “Satan tries to put lies in our heads that attempt to fill a void that only God can complete. He will never tell you the full truth. The Bible calls him “the deceiver of the whole world. He will manipulate the truth to cause you to stumble.” (Michelle Myers) Eating to the point of indulgence is a sin in and of itself. Satan tries to make us feel like it’s a small thing. Pornography, Drugs, Alcoholism, those are big things right? Billy Graham was once asked “What is the definition of sin?” His answer was “A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.” The article used the example of an archer shooting at a target. He draws back his bow and lets the arrow go. Whether the arrow misses the target by a little bit or a great deal the result is the same- the arrow doesn’t land where it was supposed to. Granted- there are sins that affect us singularly and there are those that affect others- there is certainly a difference in that. But even my “little sin” of eating- it’s a downward spiral. I eat sugar, it causes my depression to flare up, which causes me to be sad, short tempered, have no energy…which of course affects my family in a negative way. I literally just saw this unfold in our lives over Easter break. We were headed to NC to visit family- most of which I had not seen since last summer. Not a big deal right? Wrong. Last summer I was in the best shape of my entire life. I had lost weight the right way, worked out consistently, was having a blast- happy, content, even my depression was lifted. The thought of seeing Kevins family and what they would think of me nearly paralyzed me. For weeks before-hand I prayed for strength to get myself together. I had my closest girlfriends praying for me on that trip. The day before we were to meet up I was a mess. I was cranky, short with my husband and girls, couldn’t enjoy our time away…I ended up sending a desperate text to my 3 sister in laws that night. I basically told them that I was completely embarrassed about seeing them and worried that they would be shocked when they saw me. It had affected my whole day and I was sick to my stomach worrying about it. I figured by getting it out there, it would help with the hello’s the next day and I could try to muster through the weekend. Now I know that not one of those girls has a judgmental bone in their bodies and frankly I thought I had a lot of nerve thinking that they would even care what I looked like… but to me- someone who struggles with this so much, it was all consuming. What I received back were some of the most encouraging notes telling me how we all struggle and have difficult times, they loved me no matter what I weighed, and they just wanted to see me and spend time together. I learned a really good lesson that weekend. I (even though I teach against it!) still determine my “worth” by my weight. When I take care of myself and look good- oh I must be worthy! I’m a good person! But when I am overweight- and know that I’m not being obedient with my eating- I may as well write Loser all over my face because that is how I feel. That weekend really was a turning point for me. No, my clothes didn’t fit very well and I was very self conscious, but I continued to repeat to myself that my weight did not determine my worth. For years I have struggled with perfection. I’m an all or nothing girl. . But God has gently been teaching me through all these struggles that I need to strive to be close to Him, not to be perfect. There is only one person in this entire world that ever was or ever will be perfect.
In “Fire In Your Heart”, Sammy Tippit writes: “An insight into the holiness of God will always produce a lifestyle of repentance. When one enters upon this highway called holiness, it does not mean that he is perfect. It does mean that he is walking down a road of change. Repentance means a change of heart or a change of mind. Throughout the Christian life we should be continually changed, or conformed, into the image of Jesus Christ. “
This journey is exhausting at times. It is also exhilarating at times- like today, when I am able to put my thoughts onto paper and see that although I am far from having my act together- I am learning. I am growing. It’s a bittersweet thing- so often I wish this struggle away and don’t want to deal with it. Yet, by going through it myself and having the courage to share my true feelings- I know that others are able to feel less alone in their battles. I look forward to the day when I am home with Jesus and am free from this internal (and external) struggle- the day when I can eat without worry or dread, the day when none of it matters because I will be worshipping at the feet of my Lord and Savior. But until then… I’ll keep fighting… and keep trying to be “Faithfully Fit”.
You know my daily struggles and you want to help me with them…but until I see them for what they are- until I am truthful with myself about what sin really is, you can’t complete the work you have started in me. Please grant me courage and a willing heart to chase after you and your desires for me. Give me the ability to see the sin that satan so easily sugar coats and to call it what it is- and then to fight with the weapons you have given me- above all Your word which is always available to me and has everything I need. I want to be able to truly thank you for this struggle some day when I am able to see it for the good you were able to use it for.
In your precious name,