6/07/2010

Of Weight And Why: Part V

This is the final post in this attempt to get recent weight/food/idolatry issues up to speed and out there; to catch up, here are posts I, II, III, and IV; this post picks up right at the end of the last one.

When I stood at the sink, trying to purge but unable to, I said the blinders were ripped off my eyes.  It was deeper than just that moment, though. I have back up a little.

That was a Tuesday night. Two days before, Sunday, Jason asked me if I was struggling with eating. He noted that I was grazing more, taking random bites of things here and there throughout the day (another big no-no). At first, I was pissed at him and stormed out of the room (how did that response not whisper to me that there was a problem? How powerful and deceitful my heart can be!). Later, I explained to him that because I do track the vast majority of those bites into my SparkPeople app (which was true), that I was staying within calorie goals and was fine (which was sorta true- most days I was within calorie goals, but I wasn't fine). I was certain that I was fine.

I wasn't fine. Suddenly, I could see clearly that I was quickly going back to old habits. Eating things like sushi (read: rice) that filled my small stomach pouch to an uncomfortable point but justifying it because, hey, sushi's healthy!, but then feeling rescued from my sin of overeating when I got the foamies (google it if you please) and threw up.

Then there was the lie that if I tracked the calories I wasn't sinning. That I was experiencing "freedom in Christ" if I ate what I wanted without asking God what I should be eating to worship him. I wasn't fine, and I had been willfully ignoring the fact that though I was working out like crazy and had lost 120 pounds, I wasn't worshiping Jesus with regards to my health.

There's so much I could say here, but I'll cut to the heart of the issue- I didn't want to still struggle with food. I wanted that struggle to be dead and gone. This became clear to me when I was so ashamed of my struggle with food that I literally wished for a moment, during a recent sermon about the sinful woman in Luke 7, that my struggle had been that I used to sleep around and had had sex with more men than I could count. I've only ever had any sexual contact with my husband; I was so ashamed of this food struggle that I was willing to trade in a struggle with food for the pain of a past of utter sexual debauchery.

Why? In my mind, I would be healed from sleeping around by now, and wouldn't struggle anymore. Again, the heart motive was to kill this sin, not for Jesus' glory, but so that I can feel better about myself.

LIE! SINFUL LIE! I am in Christ. I can do nothing to earn his favor, including overcome this struggle. Even if I regained weight and ate like a pig and had a heart attack in two years and weighed 4,000 pounds I could not unearn his favor, because Christ's righteousness has covered me.

The point is not that I get fixed and quit wanting food to make me feel good, in control, etc (back to that in a sec). The point is that Christ has already won, but until I die I will struggle as a sinner, and he wants to be made great by showing himself powerful through my weakness. I cannot reiterate that point enough.

I was ashamed of my sin. I took back on the identity of obese, disgusting, worthless, lazy, almost 400 pound woman. I felt ashamed that I have to rely on Christ for every single bite of food that I take; for wisdom in the food choice and for wisdom in how much of it to eat. I was ashamed of my weakness, that I know how to eat well but just can't make myself do it 100% of the time without failing.

God showed me two beautiful things:

1) I was too focused on my weakness, but not crying out to my God whose STRENGTH is made perfect in my weakness; I was undermining his strength by pitying myself for being weak.

2) Everyone should rely on Jesus for wisdom with everything they eat. We are to be Spirit-led and worship Jesus in EVERYTHING we do. The thing is, none of us can do it on our own, but Jesus did, and if we rely on him then the same Holy Spirit who helped Jesus worship the Father in all things will help us, too.

That shame is not mine to own. It's dead. I am in Christ. I'm learning to not just force myself to "eat right", but to actually be prayerfully dependent on Christ. And, shocker, as I'm learning to do this in the area that is currently my most prevalent struggle I'm beginning to rely on Christ more consistently throughout every day. When I stumble, I cry out to him for forgiveness and the strength to get back up. It's bringing the intimacy with God that I have longed for but thought was for others but unattainable for me.

Quick thing: Some may read this and think, "Ok, but isn't her food struggle a surface idol? Isn't there some deeper root she should be searching for?".

Here's where I am: I've thought about it some, prayed about it more, and what I've come to is the conclusion that there may be something deeper. For me, eating without having to think, to just eat as much as I want because I want to, with no rules or limits or calories to count, is a form of control. Being out of control makes me feel in control, because I am the one controlling whether I am being controlled about my behavior or not. That said, I don't sense the Spirit leading me to spend a bunch of time digging into that right now. Eventually, he may, but the direct correlation to my desire to be in control by eating uncontrollably is that I'm not relying on the Holy Spirit to be in control. I'm willfully refusing to rely on God, because eating feels good, I want it, and I don't want to seek him. Truth be told, I don't hate the sin of overeating- I hate the effects of the sin of overeating (being fat). I like overeating. When I give into the temptation, I worship overeating and don't worship God.

I want to change those last sentences to past tense, but I can't. Today, I'm not tempted to overeat. At least, I haven't been so far. But that doesn't make me fixed. I need Jesus. I celebrate that today he's allowed me to rest and not be tempted. Tomorrow temptation may come, and I'll need to cry out to him for deliverance. I pray I will. Either way, he's a good God both when I'm tempted and when I'm not.

***

From here I will keep asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom as to how to share as I go forward. The purpose of this little mini-series isn't to say, "Oh, look, I struggled, but I'm all better now!".  Yes, much of it is written in the past tense, but the struggle of loving Jesus and clinging to him in the moments when my lust for food feel insurmountable is ongoing. I want to be more honest as I go, but I still need to utilize wisdom.

One reason I waited so long to write about this at all is that it's easy, as a blogger, to manufacture life to fit into a blog post. Anyone who has seen Julie & Julia or who upkeeps a blog of their own can likely relate. When I kept a weight loss blog, I found my mind constantly swirling around how to blog about what was happening. My heart began to worship the journey for the sake of the blog, and not the Jesus whom I purported to be holding my hand through the journey.

So, more weight issues will come. This isn't over- it may well be a struggle I face until the day I die, and I pray that Jesus will get glory as his power is perfected and, hopefully, made known in my weakness.

That said, Jesus has been so faithful to me, and just as a reminder of where I've come from, I'd like to share my progress pictures. This, my friends, is visual evidence of God's grace; it's also a testimony that though I am weak and struggle, God has also been faithful to change my heart and I have worked very hard and need to remember to celebrate how far I've come!
June 3, 2010 - 255 pounds
I've lost 121 pounds and 95 inches-
I always wondered what my body looked like beneath all that fat,
and apparently it's a smokin' hot hourglass shape :)

June 2009 (ONE YEAR AGO!)
About 365 pounds; 11 pounds below my highest weight of 376 in February '09

4 comments:

  1. thanks Tami for beautifully documenting this journey of grace and redemption!!

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  2. :) ♥

    have you heard of paul nison? The Bible is also his Bible on food. its his "spiritual influence on nutrition"

    http://paulnison.com/about-paul/

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  3. "obese, disgusting, worthless, lazy, almost 400 pound woman" is terribly judgemental. Do you think Christ felt you were worthless at that weight? Do you judge all "almost 400 pound women" as disgusting, worthless, and lazy?

    This is just rather hurtful, and sounds like you are somehow superior now to the woman you used to be, and the many still-morbidly-obese women out there.

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  4. Mia-

    I am sorry that you felt that what I said was hurtful; I want to take care to clarify that point and so I am glad you commented.

    I do not think that I was disgusting or worthless when I weighed nearly 400 pounds, nor do I believe Jesus saw me that way. The shameful, hateful, derogatory terms are a false identity, lies about who I am. I am defined by Christ, and he loves me no more because I am 254 pounds than he ever did. His love for me is based on who HE is, so I can do nothing to earn it nor can I do anything to lose it.

    That said, though it is a false identity, I did often feel disgusting, lazy, and worthless when I weighed 376 pounds... and at 350, 320, 300, 280, and sometimes even now as I approach 250 and below. The false identity has nothing to do with my actual weight, but who I perceive myself to be apart from Christ. I definitely felt that way about myself then, because I didn't ask Christ what he saw when he looked at me. I can still feel that way now when I don't ask Christ who he says I am.

    I am definitely not superior to anyone- not myself with 120+ pounds added on, or any other woman who is morbidly obese.

    Again, I'm glad you commented, because in context I meant that I was taking back on the false identity and lies about who I am apart from Christ, as defined by my fat and not by who Jesus says I am. That identity has been taken off not because I have lost weight but because Jesus has been gracious to reveal himself to me as my God who loves me in the midst of my sin.

    I thought my meaning was clear, since I said in an earlier paragraph that even if I regained weight and weighed 4,000 pounds (as opposed to 400) I still would have worth to Jesus. Still, because it wasn't clear I am glad for the opportunity to clarify and hope that you will accept my apology for any misspoken (mistyped?) words that were hurtful.

    Also, to Jen and Darla- thanks to you both. And I am checking out that dude's website, D, though I'm typically not super into the raw food deal. It's mostly a texture thing with me- I like soft and smooth and creamy more than crunchy and crisp.

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