Monday, September 16, 2013

What Are You Looking At?

I was listening to a book a couple of weeks ago called Sisterland.  While I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, there is something I wanted to talk about that was in it.  It has to do with the choices that we make, and further illustrates how the steps we take into sin can shock us.  We sometimes find ourselves in the middle of a mess, before we even understand that we have made a mistake.  It isn't always this way.  Sometimes we sin because we have developed habits that gratify our sinful nature.  But there are times when it seems like we unwittingly jumped off a cliff and can't sense the danger until our feet have left the ledge.  Sometimes we make choices that leave us shaking our heads thinking, "This should have been harder.  I should have seen warning signs."

I know that in my own life I can think back to the choices I made that led up to the affair and see that it was a gradual giving over to one compromise after another.  But if I look at myself in May of 2012, then fast forward to July of 2012, on the whole it seems as if overnight I became a different person.  Like I was fine one day, and then the next I was in the middle of a full-fledged affair.  I know that it felt that way at the time.  I had become so blind and pushed the voice of the Holy Spirit so far away that it is no wonder I didn't recognize the signs, or care about them.

In the book I referenced above, there is a woman who gives into a night of temptation while her husband is out of town and sleeps with a good friend.  When it is over, realizations come crashing down on her.

What had I done? What had I been thinking? How could such a ruinous act be so easy? It's non-occurence up to this point hadn't required restraint so it seemed as if, conversely, there ought to have been more effort involved in its occurrence. And what now?
Sisterland, Curtis Sittenfeld

I think this is all too common.  Let me use something that perhaps more of you can relate to.

I have struggled with my weight for 15 years.  It has been an uphill battle, one that I have failed at again and again.  I had the most success losing weight after I had my fourth child.  I was sick throughout the entire pregnancy and didn't gain any weight.  Determined to finally lose the weight from all four children, plus what I had gained through emotional eating, I began Weight Watchers as soon as Olivia was born.  I went to meetings and tracked my food.  Between September 2005 and December of the same year, I rapidly lost 40 pounds, and was finally down to a weight close to my "pre-marriage" weight.  In early 2006, the pain in my abdomen began.  Through a series of tests, I found out I had gall stones (which can occur with rapid weight loss).  My gall bladder was removed in March 2006, and I made one choice.  Forced to stop breastfeeding due to medication and the surgery and recovery, I chose to stop tracking what I ate.  I had done so well, I thought I knew how to do it without the tools available to me.  I believed that I was strong enough to do it on my own.

One moment I had finally achieved my weight loss goal, and the next?  Well, I sit here now-ashamed to admit-8 years later carrying an extra 70 pounds.  All because of that one choice I made to get lazy about writing down what I ate.  Ultimately, the choice had less to do with tracking my food and more to do with my belief that I could do it on my own.  That by myself, I could still keep the weight off.  I took my eyes off of the truth, and focused them on myself.  In retrospect, I see that I neglected to use the tools I had been given to lose the weight and keep it off.  Though it seemed to have occurred overnight, I understand that the more I depended upon myself, the more I trusted in myself to keep the weight off, the easier it became to forget all that I had learned.

And, I wasn't planning to write this now, but it's pressing on me and I need to just get it down.  Because if I don't, I will keep putting it off.  Kris and I were walking out at Creve Coeur Park yesterday and talking about losing weight and being healthy.  You see, what I haven't shared until now is that I have spent the last two months working hard to exercise and lose weight.  Two months ago, that 70 pounds I mentioned previously was 85.  I have been intentional about losing weight.  Finally free of the excruciating neck pain, I felt like I was ready to take the next step.  I was ready to lose the weight.  I didn't say anything initially because there have been too many times that I have started Weight Watchers or some other plan to lose weight, only to give up 1-2 weeks in.

As we walked yesterday, I shared something with Kris that has been on my mind for the last few days.  I am committed to losing weight and being more active, because I know that I need to.  But the truth is, my heart hasn't quite caught up with my mind yet.  And perhaps putting it on virtual paper here will help me get where I want to be.  What I realized is that, regarding my weight, I have not yet surrendered completely to God.

No one wants to admit that eating too much or having no self-control over food is a sin.

But it's time to call a spade a spade.  What I have done to my body is a sin.  If I continue on the path I have taken for so long, I sin.  Not because God doesn't love me if I am overweight-but because he has entrusted this body to me, and I have abused it and allowed my lack of self-control to determine my weight.  I almost cringe when I think about how people use 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 to show why we should exercise and eat right:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

It doesn't get any clearer than that, does it?  I have a responsibility to this body, to God.  Is indulging in every food whim honoring to God?  No.  Of course it isn't.  What I have put off admitting is that I am living in sin if I do not practice self-control when it comes to food and exercise.  And while the tendency is to get frustrated and feel like there is too much to lose, or I just can't have that kind of self-control, that's just a lie from the enemy to keep me trapped in bondage to food.

Though I don't LIKE to hear the implications in the passage above, I NEED TO.

It's time that I understand this the way I do the other lies that bombard my mind.  I have to take control of this area in my life instead of letting it control me.  I have to wrestle it to the ground and then surrender it, giving it over to God.  I must allow Him to bring about the change in my heart, which will result in a change in my behavior.  In this particular case, I have already begun the process of changing my my eating habits, because I knew I needed to.  It's time to let God have control of my heart and mind, so that I can truly be free, once and for all.

And in doing so, I have to remember that it is in God's strength that I can do this, and not my own.  So I don't need to be discouraged if I don't lose weight as quickly as I want-it took me years to put it on; I have no right to expect it to take mere months to reverse it.  And it isn't about how my body looks or even how I feel physically-though those can be benefits-it's about how my heart looks.  It's about being obedient in all things, even in this area that I have allowed to hold sway over me for too long.

It is absolutely imperative, both with my weight and my draw towards sin in general, that I keep my focus on God.  One momentary glance away, toward myself, and I set myself up to run right back into the arms of discontentment and selfish pleasure.

I have to keep my eyes on Jesus.

At all times.

Because I know, based on the pattern of sin in my life, apart from Him I can do nothing.  I cannot be the person God has called me to be or the woman that I truly want to be, if I am depending on my own strength.

A newer friend told me this weekend that she saw me as strong.  When she heard Kris and I share our story last year, she thought that I was strong.  I don't want to diminish her kind words-because they meant a lot-but I have to be honest and acknowledge that the strength she sees in me is all God.  It is only by God's grace and HIS strength that my life has changed.  I couldn't give myself a tender, responsive heart, no matter how hard I tried--and I did try!

God had to do it.  He took the stony, stubborn heart that I tried to cling to, and He shattered it.  Not to hurt or punish me.  He wanted to reshape me, and give me something that was so much better than what I knew.  He wanted His best for me, and when I was willing to be molded, He made beauty from my ashes.

So, if you see strength in me, may we never think that I have anything to do with it.

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

It is never a surprise to me-rather it makes me smile-when God gives me a verse or a song to reinforce what He is teaching me at any given moment.  Two days ago, I stumbled upon this gem, and it will become my anthem as I continue on this journey.

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16 (MSG)


  1. You know, I find all those self words are just hard! Selfishness, self-control, self-discipline, Boy, do they require fighting against this flesh and sin nature! God is able and our enabler. What a comfort!

    1. Right!?! Everything in my flesh screams "this is all about me! the world revolves around me!" I love that God reminds me that it's NOT about me-it's about HIM.

  2. Hello, My name is Tammey and I ran across your blog from A Proverbs 31 Wife. I just wanted to say that I have enjoyed your truthfulness on everything that you share. It's very refreshing. Weight has always been a huge (excuse the pun) issue in my family. As a child I always considered myself fat (mainly because family members said I was) but now when I look back at old photos of me, I realize that I wasn't. Yes, I had more "meat" on my bones than other girls my age but I was no way near fat. Today it's a different story. Today I am fat. Not obese, but what most would consider over weight. Just like you I have spent my life on one diet after another. At one point I was a size 2. I could wear anything and it seemed as though people actually liked me more because I was skinny. But you know what? I wasn't happy and I was always sick. YUK! There was actually one man ( friend of the family) who told my grandmother that I had gone to far and that most men prefer women with a little meat on their bones. And you know what? I believe him. I know what Hollywood and the media try to convince us of and I know what the bible says about our bodies being a temple. But where does it say that every temple has to be the same small size? If you look at all of God's creation what do you see? Animals, birds, flowers, trees, insects, planets, stars, etc. all of different sizes and all beautiful in their own right. Are elephants fat because they don't look like giraffe's or are they beautiful in their own right because that's the way God made them? I believe that those passages refer to a person keeping their bodies free from sexual immorality and perversions and graffiti. Not so much weight.(Though I do agree that obesity is not healthy and not what God would want us to be) We as a society give the issue of weight far to much attention. Even God himself makes it clear that He looks at what is in our hearts and not what we look like on the outside. Maybe, we should do the same?

    1. There is a lot of truth in your words and in context, you're right-that verse would be referring to sexual immortality. And while God does look at our hearts, I believe he expects us to care for these vessels physically in a safe and healthy manner. My doctor explained to me that my weight left me in a position for disease...and I don't think that is God's best for me. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.