5/31/2010

Of Weight And Why: Part II

So in last Thursday's post I promised to continue into this issue of weight issues (redundant much!), my identity, and, basically, what I'm learning. This one will be a bit longer than the preceding and subsequent posts, but I want to get this one out in one clear post and then move forward into recent events that have shaped my new thinking about who Christ is and who I am in the midst of this struggle.

Let's do this.

As I mentioned, I belong to Christ. My identity is in him, not my weight or any other thing I could try to define myself by (be it seemingly innocuous, even good- wife, leader, etc- or the "bad" things I have believed in the past- fat, lazy, too needy, too independent [yeah, they contradict. Sometimes sin makes no sense.], selfish, etc.) simply because sometimes they're true. With regards to my weight, I don't get to own the identity of fat person. The sin that shot me up the scale toward 400 pounds is nailed to the cross, it is forgiven, and it's not who I am.
Is God only good if I string together victories
until  I reach a dream weight and have
 the body I did in Middle School?
No.
No way will I believe that lie any longer.

This is good. So good, in fact, that doesn't it seem like I should stop there?

That's a slippery and tempting lie. What happened, somewhere in the last 10 months since I had RNY gastric bypass surgery and dropped a third of my body weight, is that I began to believe that I could only talk about the victories. That I needed to tweet about how hard I worked out at the gym, or how many pounds and inches I've lost, but not about the days when I skipped the gym or felt near despair because I was working hard but the scale hadn't moved for 8 weeks. To talk only about how food wasn't even tempting anymore on the days when that felt true, but remain silent during periods of constant temptation, or certainly never speaking of the sinful failures when I ate worshiping food and not Jesus.

I began to believe that publicizing my success- even in the "good" stuff being all I would allow to broadcast in my own mind- was the only way to encourage people and give glory to God.

That's not all wrong. It's good to celebrate God's grace to me through victories over sin, the miracle of a changed heart that with increasing frequency wants to go to the gym and actually really enjoys working out. That really is amazing.  However, it's only half the truth.

The whole truth is that while testifying to God's grace through victory is essential, so is being honest about my struggles. Certain events and words have transpired- some things said to me by others, some things dealing with the lies I believe about myself- which reinforced my desire to only share the "good" stuff, because I cannot fail in this journey to get thin and healthy and if I am weak and still struggle then I am not just failing in the moment, but doomed to utter failure as a whole.

But that's a lie.
...a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
                                           II Corinthians 12:7b-9
The truth is that God's strength is made perfect in weakness; when I am willing to admit my weakness it allows God's strength to be made manifest. Sometimes his strength is shown as victory in spite of my weakness; sometimes it's shown when he's gracious and forgiving despite my failings. It's for that reason that I'm going to share more honestly on this blog.

You know what's even better? God's grace is SUFFICIENT for me. The presence of Christ to be my help, to overcome sin when my old lover of food is swaying her curvy hips and beckoning me into her adulterous bedchamber, is enough. I don't need to stop struggling. I need to rest in the power of Christ, his sufficient grace in being my help, my worthy lover of my soul, when he calls me to trust him to allow his power to be made manifest in the moment that I, in my weakness and desire to sin, cry out to him and receive his grace. Even if I sin and eff it all up, his grace to forgive me and not give up on me, to keep redeeming me, is enough. That I need him and that's where he meets me- in my place of deepest need, not where I think I am strong, is the great miracle of the gospel.

Sidenote: I'm not saying that my struggle is necessarily a temptation from Satan. I do know this- I've begged God to take away my lustful desire for food. Maybe someday he will. But I think I get what Paul was saying when he writes that his thorn, this issue that he struggled with and that kept pricking him and wouldn't go away, kept him from being conceited. If I could just no longer struggle with food, and be this shining example of someone who used to be totally effed up, this 376 pound balloon of a woman turned into a 140 pound healthy-eating and exercise powerhouse who says it's all because of Jesus and never struggles with wanting food more than she wants Jesus, then I don't think I would believe that I need Jesus anymore.

It's subtle, but let me tease this out. See, if food was no longer a struggle, not even a temptation, I wouldn't be so aware of my desperate need for God. Because this craving, this foodlust, is a persistent issue, I must continually cry out to God for the strength and wisdom of his Holy Spirit regarding every morsel of food that does or does not pass my lips. Maybe you think this makes me pathetic, but this is a battle and I am fighting it.

When Jesus Christ is my rock and I cleave to him and experience victory with regards to food, exercise, and getting closer to a healthy weight, that's amazing. But in your biggest area of struggle, do you experience persistent victory? I doubt it. There are times where you probably feel helpless and hopeless, that this will never change and you'll always be this pathetic so why even try anymore. I've been there. I've been there very recently. And that is why I need to tell the whole story. And I need to quit pretending that weight issues, at least for where I am right now, are some petty thing that might come up from time to time, but are no big deal.

Right now, it's a big struggle. There's a lot more going on that will never be posted for universal consumption and remains between me and Jesus, my husband, and closest friends. I think, though, that God has given me a heart to write and an ability to share openly and honestly [full disclosure: on the internet, sharing vulnerably looks very different than sharing vulnerably in close community, and I believe it should be that way, which is why this blog will always be lagging behind current daily life] and I want you to be encouraged.

This is not turning into "former fat girl weight loss blog" or anything. But things are going to be "weight"-ier for a bit and that's a good thing. In fact, I already wrote Wednesday's post for this week and, though it wasn't fun, I am excited and hope God leads people to read it who will be encouraged to turn to him. It's scheduled for early in the AM so keep watch out for it!

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