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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?

God.

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. fastball

    I'm not a religious guy...in fact, I'm about as atheist as they come. But I do believe that many things are possible if you have enough faith....in yourself, in your determination, in your abilities to rise and overcome...and if you need to believe in an all-powerful, all-seeing God to help you along your way – well, good for you. Whatever works. Beats sitting at home, stuffing your face with candy, moaning and whining about life.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  2. Travis

    I just got back from a visit to Texas. Folks there, mostly Baptists, attribute everything that happens to God's intervention: "God sent this trial to test my faith." Their actual, physical results are the same as people who connect cause and effect in the normal way. So the "faith" thing seems like neither a net loss nor a net gain. It is fun pointing out how their own actions were the cause of their troubles, not a "test from the Lord" but I no longer take this approach with my in-laws.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  3. Realist

    Glad she lost weight. Too bad it was based on a fairytale. The bible is a good story that can teach valuable lessons, but that's all it is – a good story. It's a book of fiction written by power-hungry, greedy "holy" men who first picked and chose what stories to include, then edited it as needed to suit their needs. Read it, learn from it, but in no way should it ever be considered fact.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  4. HarryPoiter

    I guess prayers and all your nice words about God and Jesus will help us all and the light will shine through you and halo will be on each and everyone of you. News for you guys. Wake up!! Only the ones who practice the Bible and understand what it says will make it through. I agree with Stan, you are addicted to food. Got nothing to do with God. Stop blaming God and it's not God that make you loose weight. God allows you to loose weight and He cares and he wants you to be happy. But it is SELF-DISCIPLINE that the Bible calls us to live (look at the fruits of the spirits) that will help us grow, I mean for you please don't need to grow anymore.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  5. Desiree M.

    Lysa, thank you for being willing to open your self up to the world and share a common struggle-weight, and the underlying cause of it all. I known the feeling of eating a gallon of ice cream in two days and the horrible guilt that comes with it.
    Realizing that you, I, and others are trying to satisfy a God craving with something temporary is the first step. I am looking forward to your webcast bible study based on your book Made to Crave. For many, that will be the next step.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  6. Heather

    Thanks Lysa, great article! Filling up on God reaps multiple blessings. Love Proverbs 31 Ministries too.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  7. Veronica

    Very true! And here is another article that talks about the connection between our tendency to overeat and a lack of spiritual fulfillment: http://www.kabtoday.com/epaper_eng/content/view/epaper/7396/(page)/4/(article)/7414

    December 30, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  8. frank

    The world is FULL of angry atheists

    December 30, 2010 at 11:14 am |
    • Mister Earl

      Yes, the world is absolutely full of angry atheists. That's a good thing, though. You see, angry atheists are just... angry. The most threatening thing an angry atheist is going to do is... complain. Now when you have angry theists, that's when the problems come around. Then you have abortion doctors being shot, children being left to suffer without medical care based on abhorrent beliefs, and crazy people blowing themselves up.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:18 am |
    • IntegralReality

      We're not angry, we are rational.
      I'm sorry that The Enlightenment passed you over.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  9. RiptAway

    So some fat chick who ate too much and didn't exercise because she was probably lazy, got mad at a made-up wizard in the sky? And this is front page news for CNN? I'm confused

    December 30, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  10. BuddhaBoy

    It's easier to vanquish your demons only after you've embraced them.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  11. RUSH

    mmm pumpkin seeds

    December 30, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  12. DevinC

    I always find it sad how the naysayers come out of the woodworks to call people crazy to believe in God. There's always a few well intentioned believers who try to add something or quote a scripture which never helps anything. Thanks to those who have nothing to say except that there is a sovereign God who madly loves his people. There's so much hurt in the world, how is there a Loving God blah blah blah blah blah. There are also millions of people who have given there lives in humility and belief who are reaching said people. To those people, God is as real as the ground they walk on. Most legit believers are too humble and prayerful to bother taking up for God on this stupid website. It takes a lot of humility to experience the living God, needless to say a lot of Christianity totally misses that boat. Seek the heart of Jesus.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  13. Heidi

    I appreciate your transparency and what you're doing to help others while pointing them to God. Great article!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  14. Loren

    Amazing how poorly the Christian churches do at explaining how God relates to our lives. It's very simple - when Adam and Eve were sent from Eden, we became responsible for ourselves and God would no longer intercede directly in our lives. It does not mean that God doesn't exist or he doesn't affect the world around us, but it is only through our acceptance of Him and our acceptance of our responsibility for what we do that God will be seen in our lives.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • boocat

      If you ask any Jew about these type if stories, he/she will tell you that they are not meant to be taken literally. The stories are meant to teach lessons on morality, etc. The Jews should know...the Old Testament is "their" book. You don't see a bunch of rabbis on tv explaining the New Testament, do you? Because it is not their book.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  15. Jolanna

    Your article touched me deeply. I think the root of many of our problems is a spiritual disconnect. When we try to fill voids in our lives with food, work, or other pleasures, we will never be satisfied. Only God can fill us and satisfy those deep needs. Thank you for sharing these truths with us. I love your blog!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • Portia

      I agree, Jolanna. Two more ideas: 1- dis-satisfaction AND sarcasm go together when that spiritual vacancy isn't filled with God (speaking from experience...); 2 – (from a slogan) "From the inside, you can't explain it; from the outside, you can't understand it." (Such is following Christ.) Thanks, Lysa! I look forward to reading the book!

      December 30, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  16. Dannyma220

    First off, it is great that CNN would post this article about somebody using their faith in God to overcome a physical and emotional issue because everything seems so anti-God these days. As a believer, I must say to all the "haters" out there that one day you will confess to God, the maker and creater of the universe. . . "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."(Romans 14:11) Unfortunately it will then be too late. The Bible is not a fairy tale and if you wait till you depart this life for "proof" it will be too late to change your mind. Faith is a wonderful thing!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • IntegralReality

      So, please provide evidence to support your extraordinary claims. You know, scientific evidence... verifiable, falsifiable, do you even know what those words mean?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  17. DD

    The only harm I can see is replacing one addiction with another solves nothing. Too much of anything is never a good thing.
    I hope you all strive for balance in your lives. Brightest Blessings.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:08 am |
  18. Christy

    Thanks Lysa! You are an inspiration and I love reading your thoughts. Keep up the good work!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  19. Mok

    mmmm hiney with no cellulite

    December 30, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  20. Connie Boyd

    I have been reading your posts about this book, and just skimming through as I don't feel I have a weight problem. However, in reading this article it finally clicked in me that I may not have a weight problem, but I do have a not being filled by Christ problem; not going to Him for comfort and celebrations, etc....so thank you! I bet this book, just like many devos and books out there, can be applied to our situations no matter the details, when in the end what we should be seeking is to be filled by Christ, and turning to him in every situation – good or bad. Thank you for your words!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:06 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.