“I don’t ever want to try to satisfy any void in my life apart from God’s presence!” – I had no idea how that statement from my post about caffeine addiction would impact my life. If it had just stopped with caffeine, it would have been significant but the Lord heard that cry of my heart and almost immediately began dealing with a much deeper, darker issue in my life.
Let it be known that 2015 is the year I get real and open with my readers.
I have never been morbidly obese. In fact, as a child and teenager I was always fairly thin, but something happened in my 20’s I began putting on weight. By the time I was 25, I was on my first diet program, as prescribed by my doctor. Not because I was terribly overweight (although I was, admittedly, heavier than I needed to be), but because my eating habits were so erratic that it was wreaking havoc on my body.
I lost a significant amount of weight and felt much better.
That lasted less than two years before I was back up to the weight I was before.
I tried so hard to maintain a healthy weight, but it just seemed to be a losing battle between me and my body! It wasn’t until my early 30s that I would be back to a healthy weight. Not because of dieting but because I was living in Zagreb without a car. I walked and biked literally all over the city and my continually active lifestyle kept off the pounds so that on my wedding day I looked amazing.
My husband lived right next to a train station and the train ride was literally only 5 minutes from the main station in town. Then we got a car.
And the pounds crept back on.
Since that time, it has once again been a constant battle.
I will admit, I’ve been puzzled. Flummoxed. Dumbfounded.
We eat out so rarely that it is almost not worth mentioning. We eat take out perhaps only a couple of times a month – and even then its usually rotisserie chicken. I make our meals from scratch – so we don’t eat any processed foods at all. I don’t drink juices or sodas. Ever.
So where could the problem be?
The first time the real issue with me and my weight became clear was last year. I admitted to some friends about my deeper struggle, but at the time wasn’t at a place in my life where I wanted to address it.
But 2015 is the year I get real. 2015 is me being #present. That means being present with myself as well.
And in order to do that, I have had to dig deep, really deep, to uncover some painful things in my past that I have resolved in my heart, but the cushioning patterns I built around them still exist.
You want to know the real issue why, after all the dieting and healthier eating that in 2013 took off the initial 20 pounds, I am still carrying around an excess of 30 pounds?
I am a comfort eater
That’s the reason. It started in my late teens when I was lonely. I had always felt like a misfit, but it was never more pronounced than when I literally had no friends at all. No one with whom I had anything in common.
It was then that I began to enjoy that soothing feeling of cookies, mashed potatoes and gravy, butter soaked biscuits…and the list could go on and on.
I wasn’t conscious at all at the time that I was numbing my pain – I was just enjoying glorious carbs. In excess.
As I moved into my mid-twenties I became painfully aware that I was eating far more than even my big, male buddies would eat and I’d try to pace myself. But I couldn’t. So, I would literally starve myself one day and then binge eat the next day. I would start in late morning and I literally wouldn’t stop until I went to bed. This is what led my doctor to send me to a diet clinic, because my body was reacting to my erratic eating patterns.
While I have never been that extreme ever again, I can trace milder patterns of that same erratic eating pattern even to today.
By this time, the loneliness had become so severe that it was suffocating me. I tried to make sure I was busy every waking minute. I was never physically alone. If I wasn’t at work, I was at a church activity or with a friend….or at least talking to a friend. I would get home from work and start in on speed dial “1” and move down the list.
The only time I was ever alone was in my car…and that’s when the tears would come. Sometimes I would be crying so hard I’d have to pull the car over because I couldn’t see the road.
At every major junction, I would make a change thinking that a change of scenery would help. The only problem was, I was enjoying this new scenery with the same problems.
The problem wasn’t loneliness, the problem was my failure to allow The Comforter to comfort.
Sadly, as I look at every painful moment in the past 20 years, I also see an expanding waistband. I see piles of carbs and recall that feeling of “aaaahhhh” deep inside when the right combination of mashed potatoes and gravy felt so good.
And I also remember that icky feeling when I’ve overeaten….again….because I wanted that feeling to stay.
And you know what I’ve discovered?
It’s a sin!
It’s as much a sin as murder, lying, adultery or any other sin you can insert here.
Because the root of it is pride.
It started with bitterness – which is a supposition that while God forgives, we are somehow bigger than God and exempted from extending the same grace He has extended to us every day of our lives.
It grows into rejection of His deeper presence because we are content to live with a shallow relationship where He fits nicely in a box – in a time slot – but where the rubber meets the road….well, He doesn’t fit there.
The problem is that “there” is where this incredibly hollow, empty chasm is. A deep, dark emptiness that threatens to swallow you whole and never let you see the light of day.
I know that feeling all too well.
And you can’t live with it or you’ll simply cease to exist. So you have to fill it with something. Anything that satisfies will do.
And that’s a level of pride whose stench is literally intolerable to God.
But not only that, you soon discover that any patch you’ve found to cover the gaping hole is simply insufficient. It’s like putting a band aid over an amputation.
And that’s how I arrived here today.
I’m ready to address this. But more than that, I’m ready to conquer this.
In my usual form, my initial response to this decision was a complete overhaul and radical change. But I knew I would soon grow discouraged by my inability to keep up, so I am trying something else I’ve started in 2015 – baby steps.
Here are three things I am starting this week to begin conquering this sin:
1. Scripture memorization
2. Embracing the quiet (ie. shutting off the noise and purposely leaving myself alone with my thoughts)
3. Asking myself “why?” when I start ruffling through the fridge and cupboards between meals (and I have designated eating times now) and combating my craving by turning to The Comforter, not food.
Last month I blogged about doing Project 365 with Darlene at Time Warp Wife. I am switching up my plan so that by doing these 3 things everyday (all 3), I get 1 point.
Frankly, the other (vitamins, exercise, food tracking) doesn’t mean a thing if the root of the problem isn’t resolved.
I know this post is long. I know that I’ve really laid myself out and been vulnerable. But I also know that truth sets us free. When we are honest with ourselves and shine the light on our sin, that’s where true freedom begins.
I also know that I’m not alone in this. I know that there are hundreds and thousands of women out there who comfort themselves with food….or other things….and fail to allow the Holy Spirit to fill that role that only He is meant to fill.
If that is you, will you join me in this new journey to freedom today?