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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. Allen

    I just am so sad so many people do not have the comfort of knowing God is real.

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

      I'm so sad that so many people don't understand the difference between belief and knowledge. It's really at the core of all the division religion creates.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  2. J. Jonah Jameson

    Get me a picture of Spider Man D@mmit

    December 30, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  3. tallulah13

    As someone who has struggled with weight all my life, I certainly know how difficult it is to loose the pounds.. Good for her for losing the weight. I hope she can keep it off, because that's the hardest part. I think she traded one mental crutch for another. I think there's a deeper, underlying cause, because her happiness seems to rely on an outside source. If she hasn't made peace with herself, this crutch could fail her, too.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  4. r4v1oli

    Try reading a second book...

    December 30, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  5. Tammy

    All I can say is WOW! I'm in awe. First of all, I loved Lysa's article and already downloaded the book onto my nook. Secondly, it is amazing and very scary to me the lack of respect of those that post comments on this blog. Regardless of what you believe, and even if you disagree, if you want to make your point please have human decency.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  6. Kelley

    Thank you for your honesty Lysa! I can't wait to read this book!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  7. Brynn

    There is no need to be unnecessarily mean people! I used to be like that. Dig into the bitterness in your own heart and find its root, please. Then find that friend whom you've always found terribly annoying with his/her "found Jesus-ness," and talk about it. Worked for me. Love is the answer.

    Meanwhile, THANK YOU CNN! So encouraged by the number of Christian articles you rock on here. You are my favorite news source. Mwah!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  8. Jane

    Lysa....thank you for being so honest about your struggle. I battle the desire for food everyday as a way of comfort during stressful times. Turning to God is a much better solution!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  9. Priscella

    Its is always a guarantee that the angry and arrogant "more intelligent atheists" will act ignorantly towards ANY article that discusses God. Instead of rising above the extreme "christian" hate that has been sensationalized and heavily influenced our culture, each of you have now become exactly what you probably once realized you never wanted to be. You now serve yourselves as your own god and insult people who believe something you do not.
    The woman who wrote this article is telling her story and her story involves God, her story involves Jesus, and her story involves an inability to be fulfilled by the life He has given her without her overwhelming desire to seek her fulfillment in food instead. Let her tell her story and let her encourage people! Believers and nonbelievers can read her story and be encouraged. Its NOT ABOUT being better or having a more important purpose. Why must it always become that?
    Whether you believe what is in the Bible doesn't matter! Whether you believe this woman found faith in God and it changed her ability to eat doesn't matter. What matters is that you listen to her thoughts as you read them, that you digest them, and that you give her the respect she deserves simply because she's a woman telling her story.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:24 am |
  10. maxmax

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1228101622530

    December 30, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  11. 3vix6

    Ok.. So you're fat and found a way to get rid of it. But don't say it was an imaginary man in the sky that did it or somehow willed you to do it..

    It was you.. only you.

    My brother has Autism, he can't pray for his disability to be taken away. Religions make up so many excuses and are able to get away with them because most of the people on this planet are healthy and can make a change for themselves. My brother and many others can't. People in wheelchairs can't get up and walk so much as blind people can see. The bible has stories on people being relieved of their ailments, but that's all they are.. Stories. None so much has existed, nor are they even true.

    The religious believe that it's the way that "God" had made them.. But if it was a merciful and loving god that was truly behind it all, the one that people claim to follow when they talk about Jesus Christ, than that god wouldn't have inflicted my brother with a disability, or other people that are born with mental or physical disabilities. It's convenient for those that are in good health, not so much for people that aren't... That's the deception of Religion.

    This story is a self serving piece of krap which tries to legitimize their faith in the imaginary flying space man and the supposed love they think their imaginary friend has for them. Your friend does not care about you.. Nor does he exist!

    RAmen.. to everyone out there.. Hopefully more people will see the absurdities of faith.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  12. Ann

    Lysa- Thank you for your article. I appreciate your willingness to put these thoughts out there for people to read, take in and comment on. I'm sad to read some of the comments. It's amazing to me that some people are so hard-hearted. I am ordering this series for myself and can't wait to get started. Keep speaking truth, sweet sister!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  13. Mark

    @Megan..

    Truly spoken. Every word. Unfortuately, you're probably wasting your breath. All of the "intellectuals" aren't hearing any of it. I mean, if they acknowledged God, then that means they wouldn't be able to troll the CNN website looking for stories regarding faith or religion and use stupid made up names like "Flying Spaghetti Monster" or "Sky Being". They wouldn't be able to remind us about how their "common sense" won't allow them to believe in "imaginary beings" and stuff like that. Like we're supposed to be impressed because they've made a deliberate choice to ignore what's as plain as the nose on their faces.
    Romans 1:19-20
    "...since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what was made, so that people are without excuse.

    You know...the funny thing is this. You can choose to ignore just about anything. But, that don't make it UN-true. Just because you choose not to believe something doesn't nullify its existence. It has its existence independent of what your belief system is. You might choose to ignore gravity and just decide that you're not going to be "shackled by its bonds" any longer. Guess what. Go jump off your house and see what gravity thinks about your "choice".

    December 30, 2010 at 11:22 am |
    • IntegralReality

      I will believe in your god when it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he exists.
      Unfortunately there's mountains of evidence that you won't even look at that suggests that there is no god, especially the god of the jews.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  14. Free The Zombies

    You are asking if you are not telling the truth about what you feel or believe in? You don't have to tell the truth....you belief is based on faith not fact. The fact is you can do that without having to prove anything because your belief is very simple...have faith. I grew up baptist and fought hard against anyone who denounced my religion. After some deep "soul searching" I realized everything I have been taught is just a real as the Lord of the Rings. Its a great story, some good some bad and sure it would be wonderful to see my family when I die and live for eternity in heaven. BUT just like watching the Lord of the Rings I had to come back to reality and realize man wrote this and it was done in a time when religion was going through a type of revolution. No one knows for sure who wrote Mathew, Mark, Luke, John or other books from the Bible. How many versions or interpretations of this religion exist? Why was the final version cut down and why does science clash so hard with it? Because its a story passed down from generation to generation, mothers telling daughters, fathers telling sons over and over and like the greek gods its becomes real to those people. Just like every other religion you have no facts just faith and for me I dont want to live under a shadow of something thats made by man and taught by man when i can use my own mind to see its all a bunch of child like stories. Those who preach want to call "non believers" the devil or lost souls but really when you open your mind to whats real in this world.....its like being unplugged from the matrix.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:20 am |
    • Feed the Zombies

      I like to think of the folks who arent weighed down by religion as those who are capable of independent thought and perfectly capable of knowing right from wrong without some form of regulation being forced on them.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Artemis

      Feed The Zombies:
      So true! I've found the really enlightened people to be the ones who care for others, give to good causes, and live purposeful, law-obiding lives, all because they are developed enough emotionally and mentally to do so without the threat of punishment from the guiding/punishing Daddy in the sky.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  15. maxmax

    when the fat girl got mad at God she made a fool of herself.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  16. janene

    Great article–excited to read the book full of so many of His truths, I am sure.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  17. boocat

    Poor "God".....gets blamed for everything....

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

      poor you really

      December 30, 2010 at 11:22 am |
    • Luis Wu

      He's an imaginary being, so he doesn't mind.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:24 am |
  18. Grant

    Great job on losing the weight. Your choice of scapegoats is more than a little disturbing, but I commend the results.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  19. Jennifer Callahan

    I have spent most of my life "self-medicating" with food, and have watched thousands do the same. I know that empty feeling! And yes, food temporarily sedates that emptiness...But God is the permanent fill for that void. No one can overcome any addiction without God. We need more than temporary help – we need eternal help. Thank you Lysa, for struggling with this and sharing your recovery! I look forward to reading about your journey!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  20. AchievementGap

    No wonder the Muslims have waged Jihad on the infidel. You people are just cold and uncaring.

    Infidel: a : an unbeliever with respect to a particular religion b : one who acknowledges no religious belief

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

      Why – because I choose not to believe in science fiction? Worry about your own damn "soul" and I'll worry about mine.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:19 am |
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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.