December 30th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

My Take: When the fat girl got mad at God

Editor's Note: Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and author of Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire With God, Not Food. Lysa blogs daily at www.lysaterkeurst.com. 

By Lysa TerKeurst, Special to CNN

Three years ago I was stuck in a rut of wishful thinking and excuses with my weight loss. At the beginning of each day I would say I wanted things to be different. I would vow in my heart to make things different. I would even make a plan to stop the snacks, increase the veggies, and say no to the desserts.

But then life would happen. And the excuses were so very plentiful. So, my resolve would melt away like butter on a hot yeast roll.

Of course the next morning I would always get up and weigh myself hoping that somehow magic would have happened over night. Despite my indulgences from the day before, maybe just maybe the numbers would have gone down.

But the scale was not impressed with my wishful thinking. So you know who I’d get mad at?


I’d beg God to help me one minute while scarfing down an order of fries the next. And then I’d be doubly mad He didn’t steer my car away from the drive-thru.

I deemed myself a victim of tragic genetics, overactive taste buds and a stomach that demanded large portions.  What I failed to realize for years is there was a much more significant issue going on with me.

More important than the ever increasing size of my jeans was the deception going on inside my heart. My weight was outside indication of an internal situation. There was a crucial spiritual situation that needed to be addressed.

I was relying on food to be my comfort, my ever present help, my guide, the thing that got me through the valleys and the first thing I wanted to celebrate with in the good times. Honestly, I might as well have taken Psalm 23 and replaced the Lord’s name with various food choices.

My proper little Christian self would have never expressed that out loud. But my body wouldn’t keep secrets. I had an issue. And the ever increasing size of my body demanded the REAL issue be addressed.

I don’t write to point out anyone else’s issue. There are certainly medical situations that can cause weight gain. But my issue was truly a spiritual one. And no diet would have ever been permanently successful until I got to the real root of my problem.

The root of my issue was craving food more than God. I desired and depended on the instant high of physical gratification because I hadn’t learned how to let God satisfy my deepest needs.

God wasn’t causing my weight issues as some sort of cruel consequence for my poor choices.
God was actually the very thing I needed to help overcome my issues.

Dr. Floyd Chilton who teaches at Wake Forest University of medicine wrote an article that said, "Your willpower is in constant battle with your genes and your calorie-excessive environment. Often your best efforts are no match for your genes and environment which is why so many diets fail so miserably... Will power alone is not enough to bring about this change; start by realizing that can not do this alone. If you are a person of faith, use that connection to help you change."

So, I set out to understand what the Bible says about how to consume food without food consuming me. I started in Genesis and read through the Bible with an appetite for truth rather than chocolate, chips and cheeseburgers. This was a spiritual journey that yielded great physical benefits. I lost 25 pounds in 4 months but more importantly, I have kept it off for nearly two years. That’s a first for me!

Now, I sense my weight issue was actually a gift in disguise. I never thought I’d say that. And yes, three years ago I would have rolled my eyes at someone saying that too.

But I don’t say it as a Pollyanna lollipop girl with too much air between her ears and no cellulite on her hiney.
I know this is a tough issue. I’ve walked through the tears and the feelings of failure. Remember, I was the fat girl mad at God about this whole deal. So, hear me out.

Learning to turn to God to fill my soul instead of food to overstuff my emptiness, has changed more than just my jeans size. It has changed my outlook on life. I did lose the extra weight I needed to shed and kept it off. But the real reward was what I gained with Jesus in the process. He became the best part of my journey. And I wouldn’t have missed this new found closeness I now have with Him for anything in world.

“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food,” Romans 14:17-20.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lysa TerKeurst.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Food • God • Opinion

soundoff (1,314 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Aliens told me to stop stuffing my face and start exercising. I dropped 30 pounds. Thanks aliens!! If it were not for my close personal relationship with aliens, I would still be plopped out on the couch watching Springer reruns, stuffing dorito's down my pie hole. I am so glad I have accepted aliens as my personal saviour and let aliens be my life guiding force. Aliens rule!!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:05 am |
    • Mok

      The stupid aliens never return my call....

      December 30, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  2. common sense

    god is a twinkie – fill your tubby bodies with the cream of his reality and baste in the preservatives of his will

    December 30, 2010 at 11:05 am |
    • Jeff

      Please fill the world with valuable insight.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  3. Money

    Lets not forget all the money she is making off her book using god...oops guess that doesn't matter cause her heart is just oh so big right?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:02 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Well, yeah, she probably had an enlarged heart due to being a fatty.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  4. Rachel

    Great article! AMEN!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  5. Stan

    You mention that "the root of my issue was craving food more than God." However, you also write that you were "relying on food to be my comfort, my ever present help, my guide, the thing that got me through the valleys and the first thing I wanted to celebrate with in the good times."

    It seems here that the real root of your issue was that you were addicted to eating. Addiction is terrible, but I don't see how it has anything to do with God. I think the article could be more helpful to others who might not share your same religious views if you had identified the problem as addiction and then showed how you used your faith to overcome this problem. By stating that the issue was somehow a flaw in your own faith, you are not only making the problem about yourself when it should be about addiction, but are also depriving others who might not share your same religious beliefs the insight into how your behavior was self-destructive.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  6. Shelly W.

    Rather than cynicism or accusations, why not just look at Lysa's heart? She has laid herself out there in a very vulnerable way in order to help even one person who might need it. Lysa's the real deal–sincere, thoughtful, faithful–and for others to attack her beliefs is simply unnecessary. If one person benefits from her words by losing some weight and, more importantly, growing in their faith in the one true God, how is this hurting you?

    Lysa, you've done a great job here. Keep doing what you're doing.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • Mok

      Pretentious nonsense

      December 30, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • Neil Monroe

      mok – that comment is pretentious nonsense. You didn't answer the question. Why not?

      December 30, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  7. Heidi

    Wow, look at all the comments. You've certainly got people talking. May God bless you.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  8. Carole

    Thank you Lysa, THANK YOU CNN for including Lysa, and thank you God for your grace an salvation.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  9. Mimi

    Hey if having faith in the strength of God can help one overcome an obstacle in life then what's the harm? And why not share your success with others? If he doesn't exist then you die and rest in peace and maybe you lived your life with a faith in something positive, real or not. But if he does exist and you didn't have faith in him your after life might not be quite as peaceful as the "believers".

    December 30, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  10. Ann L.

    Thank you Lysa for sharing your story with us. From reading the comments, some folks just don't want to accept Truth, but hasn't it always been that way? Just be encouraged because your story IS helping others, especially me!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    If you're looking for good health, there are plenty of Gods who can help out.
    Agwu, Airmed, Atepomarus, Dion Cecht, Immortal Woman He, Fufluns, Aegle, Asclepius, Dhatri, Kamrusepa, Eeyeekalduk, Eshmun, Nintinugga, Endovelicus, Zywie, Derzelus, and Erinle would gladly accept your prayers and I'm sure their shamans would take your money as well.
    Fundamentalists might want to avoid Erinle since he is also the patron of gay people.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  12. LIsa

    Great article! I can't wait to read the book!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  13. Lindsey H.

    I stopped being lazy, thats how I lost weight. Maybe you should have tried that first?

    December 30, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • SeanNJ

      It's much easier to live in fear of the opinion that an absentee father figure holds.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  14. Jenny

    Sounds like the poor girl starved herself while reading the bible, she should have just exercised.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  15. Luis Wu

    How utterly freaking stupid. An imaginary, invisible man in the sky will help you lose weight? HA HA HA HA. Stop shoving food down your pie hole and THAT will help you lose weight. Moron.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:54 am |
    • Jeff

      Who said something about an invisible man? I want to read that story!!!

      December 30, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • cser


      December 30, 2010 at 11:05 am |
    • CP

      Really, "zing"? Who says that? Is this a country club?

      As for the story of the invisible man, I believe it is implied that you could read that in the Christian Bible. That's not even all the critical. I think it's generally accepted that you can't physically see God or Jesus. That's why it's referred to as "faith".

      December 30, 2010 at 11:31 am |
    • Jeff

      Jesus was in human form. Half of the Bible is about his life on earth.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  16. Ironic

    How many people will be reading her book while eating a bag of potato chips ?

    December 30, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  17. Suzann Denlinger

    Right on, Lisa! Thank you for the reminder. And thanks to CNN for having the courage to post this! 🙂

    December 30, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  18. Diana Nicholson

    Lysa, I know exactly what you are saying. I firmly believe that we all have an inner need for something greater than ourselves. I spent the first 60 years of my life trying to fill that need with everything "society" says will satisfy it and failed miserably. It was only after I came to know and believe in Jesus that my life became satisfying. I still do many of the same things but the reasons for them are significantly different. Before everything was to build my ego or how I saw myself; now everything is for the effect it will have on others. You go, girl; you are on the right track.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • CP

      Come on now... you don't actually KNOW Jesus, unless you're refering to someone who would most likely be of latino descent. Strong faith is not the same thing. It's OK to accept that your faith is not based in fact. It actually makes it more impressive that you hold your dedication despite the lack of actual observation.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  19. Pharma

    The next diet drug, the god pill.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  20. CJ2

    CNN – thanks for printing Lysa's writing. I never would have believed the flurry of comments it has triggered. We all have our beliefs and our reasons for thinking and feeling the way we do. I, for one, think Lysa might be onto something. But if you don't, so be it. What I don't lunderstand are the caustic statements – what's the point? Agree or disagree and rather a believer, atheist or agnostic....be courteous.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:51 am |
    • KB

      Well put CJ2! For those that are posting hateful comments, my question is why? What do you get from being so hateful? All Lysa is doing is sharing her story in hopes that it will HELP someone else. Instead of posting hateful comments, why not put that energy into helping someone, imagine how much better the world would be. Up until a few years ago, I was a non-believer as well, I thank God for his grace and leading me to Jesus-I am finally at peace!

      December 30, 2010 at 11:22 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.