There once was a girl (that’d be me) who took two journeys (that’d be the diets) down very different paths that seemed to lead to a similar destination: un-fulfillment.
The first diet I “went on” started out with a points system and gave me the first taste of weight-loss and others’ reactions to the weight loss. This diet turned into a run-til-you-can’t-go-anymore-and-then-walk-around-half-starved journey that resulted in a weight loss of nearly 25 pounds, which was very substantial for me. I felt like the results were great. Other people noticed and commented, and I vowed to never gain the pounds back. I weighed many, many times a day and never cheated on my diet, even researching nutrition facts of certain restaurants before going out to eat. I looked in the mirror every time I passed, checking out my image from all angles (you know you’ve done it, too). But I did have a slight problem on this journey…
I was hungry. Starving. Mourning the loss of bread and cake. Upset when I gained pounds. Anxious when I “cheated”. Lonely in thinking that everyone was enjoying their meals, their party foods, their dining experiences, except for me.
So this journey came to a very slow and gradual end with the beginning of a new school year. My busy mind was no match for my ravenous appetite and my nice, healthy lunches quickly became more convenient lunches, filled with the comforts I felt I needed to get through my day.
When I say gradual, I mean about two years. The old diet gradually turned into a new diet. And the new diet went something like this…
Eat something fabulous for breakfast. By fabulous, I mean doughnuts, biscuits and gravy, or creamy cheese grits…and a glass of chocolate milk. Think about what I’ll eat for lunch. Eat something fabulous for lunch, like a cheeseburger and big fry with a sweet tea. Plan what I’ll make for supper (or even better, have Chris stop and pick something up on his way home from work), and even though I’m no longer hungry, eat it anyway because it tastes so good! Eat a snack because I’m bored. Take an antacid before going to bed. Avoid the mirror and the scale. Feel remorse for eating even when I’m not hungry. Feel sick, both literally and figuratively.
Neither diet worked. Neither diet fulfilled me. I know I’m not alone in this. Is there no solution to the problem of the diet saga in our lives?
In order to come to a solution, I had to face the root of my problem. I was, and still struggle with, making food my “god”, whether I’m eating it or not. And ironically enough, I’ve also made the way I think I look a god, too.
In her book No Other gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols, Kelly Minter describes two types of gods on page 15. “A professed god is who or what we say our god is; a functional god is who or what actually operates as our god.”
I say that I follow the one, true God. The God who saved me from myself. But when I’m hungry, what do I rely on to fill me? When I’m stressed out, what comforts me? When I’m bored, where do I go for entertainment? When I’m sad, what makes me happy?
I plan vacations around where I’m going to eat. I go to weddings and think Who’s catering? For my birthday and anniversary, I ask to be taken out to eat. When planning a party, I plan and give more effort to the food than anything else.
And, in total contrast to my love for food, I have an almost greater love for how I want to look. Where does my self-esteem come from? Where does my satisfaction come from? Where does my confidence come from?
In thinking that I look okay.
The root of my problem on both of these diet journeys is that I invited the wrong gods to travel with me. I followed the wrong gods through the curves and valleys.
I didn’t invite the God whose strength is perfect when my willpower is gone. I didn’t ask God to help me make good decisions when I’m weak and hungry. I didn’t ask God to take control, and then I became controlled by my appetite, the scale, and the mirror.
Matthew 6:24 (NIV) says “”No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
I want to serve God, and God alone. But on my own, I have absolutely no willpower. When I am hungry, upset, happy, bored, I am used to turning to food. However, in His word, we are reminded by Peter that God will help us in any situation that affects us, because He loves us.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7 (NIV)
God will help me when I am stressed, mad, or worried. God will celebrate with me when I am happy. He will strengthen me when I am weak, with no willpower. He will stop me when I open the refrigerator for no good reason.
He alone will fill me when I am hungry.
I have invited Him to lead on this journey of living with my image, my appetite, and my food choices. I plan to start each day listening to His encouragement and direction.
This is the journey I should have taken a long time ago. Stick around to see how this tale goes. It’s gonna be a good one!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit.
Oh, what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
–Joseph M. Scriven, What A Friend We Have in Jesus
What A Friend We Have in Jesus: Public Domain, arranged by Paige Givens and Tim Muncher, 2015