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. Vanilla Gorilla

    A self described "fatty" turns to the Lord for help – why not Jennie Craig or Richard Simmons? She is an embarrassment to real ministers and other religious folks who deal with the real problems of the world. Didn't even read the whole article – does she have a medical condition of some kind? Assuming that there is a god and that he has a heaven and hell as a reward system – I hope the good Lord sends her to an all you can eat buffet for eternity for wasting his time. Need to go make a sandwich.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  2. Kathy

    Philippians 2:1-11

    December 30, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  3. veemomof3

    Well written and interesting article! I love that the emphasis is not just about the end result of healthy habits and weight-loss, but on the true reward of a closer relationship with Christ. It doesn't get any better than that. Every other blessing is just a bonus!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  4. betsy

    great article – thank you cnn!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  5. Fricsaid

    This is exactly how I beat the drink. Alcohol wasn't my problem. It's what made me turn to alcohol to fill a huge hole was the problem. I don't fill it with booze now. I fill it with prayer. I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life. I, for one, thank God every day for helping me do what I couldn't do myself. 🙂

    December 30, 2010 at 11:47 am |
    • NoneTheLess

      I feel the same way about my situation, re: drugs. I had been rescued, at a time when I couldn't have rescued myself. HE caught me, and held me up, and set me back on my feet. HE gave me friends, a job, a wonderful place to live, a new start. Another chance. I have another chance, and I am so grateful for that, that I told Him I would do anything he wanted me to do. I will never forget the way He saved me. From myself.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:53 am |
    • Fricsaid

      @Nonetheless.....I cannot begin to tell you how much that made me smile. We have been truly blessed. 🙂

      December 30, 2010 at 11:58 am |
  6. Kimberly

    Thank you, Lysa, for willingly putting yourself in the line of fire in order to share the hope you have found. Thank you, CNN, for sharing her article. I am amongst those who feel blessed to have read what Lysa has to say. I have read her writings for three years now, and I have found her to be a sincerely generous, kind, and encouraging woman. I am someone who desires a deeper relationship with God, and so I am grateful for articles like hers.
    Thank you, again.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  7. Mel

    Thanks so much for this article; it really hits home with me and is confirmation for me as well. Sorry about the negative comments; just shake the dust off and keep moving. We just need to keep those in the dark in prayer and not let them shake our faith. You can't make me doubt Him; I know too much about Him. Truth is if weight loss were as simple and some would suggest then why is obesity such a problem in America? The obesity problem is deepter than calories in/calories out–that is a symptom of the root problem. For everyone that root is different. The bottom line is until you get to the root–whatever it is, you won't be able to maintain the will to lose the weight. For some, food is a replacement of something that's missing–and yes, for many, a relationship with God could very well be what's missing!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  8. Disda

    Nom Nom Nom Nom

    December 30, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  9. Sharon

    It all boils down to faith. Faith in what you are told or faith in what you see and feel. Neither Science or Theology has all of the answers. I am a person of faith. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I firmly believe in a higher power and a bigger purpose. God helps us to become our better selves if we allow it.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • IntegralReality

      Science might not have the answers you are looking for, but at least it has the courage to keep asking questions.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
    • Dannyma220

      True science compliments The Word of God!

      December 31, 2010 at 7:16 am |
  10. Martha

    Lisa, thank u for this article & advice...May God continue to bless u.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  11. uggghhh

    FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, oh gawd I'm too fat

    December 30, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  12. Mr. A

    I can appreciate that the author has found her own way to overcome her poor eating habits; however, I simply don't understand the lack of self control, reliance, and reliance or the need to find these things externally to one's own self.

    I can't wait for the next story about how it was really the devil that made her eat those dozen cupcakes.

    I guess I must be "blessed" as I have had neither the craving nor the desire for the over indulgence in food or religion.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  13. ThePoint

    Just so everyone gets the big picture, the issue is universal sovereignty. The Bible makes it clear that God is letting things happen to prove His point. Man simply can't make it on his own. 6000 years of human history has proven His point. So both the God haters and holy rollers are making the point for Him everyday. Neither group has the answers or the ability to improve man's lot. We just await God's intervention. Until then no politician or preacher can provide real relief to human suffering. That is what history and indisputable fact has proven. Feel free to believe what you want, but God is clearly leaving us alone to prove his point.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:40 am |
    • deb

      "God haters"? I do not hate things that do not exist.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:53 am |
    • CP

      Wait, what?

      God put us on this Earth to teach us a lesson that we didn't needed to learn until he made us this way to begin with with? That's some recursive theory you have there.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • Guapo.

      6000 years????? BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! We got a young earther ladies and gentlemen. The worst kind of delusional christo fascist. And btw if the god you just explained really did exist he would be immoral, unjust and not worthy of anyones praise.

      Now explain to me again how jesus rode dinosaurs?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:56 am |
    • IntegralReality

      Humans have been walking the earth for more than 6 millenia, but hey... its not like you can travel to a museum or someplace and see ancient bones or anything, right?

      December 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  14. djrr55

    If you do not believe in God, why do you read religion posts? Just to take out your anger on those who do? If you don't believe, that's your choice. How about showing a little tolerance? Isn't that what such intellectually enlightened individuals are supposed to do?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:36 am |
    • thorrsman

      It is how the Evangelical Atheists preach their faith. As Atheism offers nothing in the way of salvation or a better hereafter, the most they can do by way of preaching the "good news" of their religion is bash the beliefs of others.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • CP


      1) It's a link on the main page
      2) Not believing in the God you envision for yourself does not prohibit one from being engaged in the subject of religion. It's actually nearly impossible to not be given how Christians feel a need to force their faith in people's faces in every context from weight loss to the ever more important politics.

      Does that answer your question?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:44 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Having tolerance for religion is the equivalent of begin an intellectual mafia wife. I'm sorry. The silliness needs to stop, or at the very least, be marginalized so that the rest of us can get back to implementing real solutions to the world's problems.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:47 am |
    • Shawn

      If believers can show up in any post anywhere and say "Thank God" or "Thank goodness God was wathcing over them" or any other religious phrase relating a no religious story to their religion, then I believe Athiests have the same right to show up in any post they want and do the same.

      If you're going to cry for equality or tolerance, it needs to be everywhere. If you can insert God anywhere, they can insert their Non-God anywhere as well.

      Personally, if there is someone watching over us, he is facepalming over what religion has become.

      I think God and the Devil are sitting on a couch, eating Cheetos playing a game of Risk with Designing Women on in the background.

      We, as a species, are the best form of entertainment anyone could ever ask for.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • .308

      @ SeanNJ

      " Having tolerance for religion is the equivalent of begin an intellectual mafia wife."

      .. and about as caring and empathetic? Interesting analogy....

      December 30, 2010 at 11:53 am |
    • 3vix6

      "It is how the Evangelical Atheists preach their faith. As Atheism offers nothing in the way of salvation or a better hereafter, the most they can do by way of preaching the "good news" of their religion is bash the beliefs of others."

      If the faith is common sense.. Than sure, I'll agree with that statement.

      One thing I've never understood... What is this "Good News"? I didn't see any of it when I read the Bible or the Qur'an! What was it that Jesus said in Matthew? if he not be a believer than cast him down and kill him before the son of man?

      We just believe that we don't know the hereafter.. Do we sleep forever? maybe.. But, I highly doubt that the hereafter that people keep fooling themselves about on here is the place people go to. Why not focus on making the world we have a better place rather than focusing on the "here-after" that probably doesn't exist.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The problem for a lot of people is that the religious think faith is a virtue. For an atheist, belief without a shred of proof is anathema.
      Those who can ignore reality are capable of rationalizing anything – like the wholesale slaughter of those who don't buy into their double-think.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • IntegralReality

      Christians don't believe in the faith of Islam, yet they have no problems making claims against the Mohammadans.
      Hypocrisy is your best friend, and cognitive dissonance never occurs for you.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  15. Singingdrum

    The God-Bashers must have nothing better to do than sit at their computer keyboards ready and fingers firing out at top speed every time there is a CNN article about God or religion, as you can count on a number of negative responses to the article, and most assuredly they will be saying how delusional the believers are. Don't you guys have something better to do than God-Bash? After all, if you don't believe in a Higher Power then why do you hang out at the Belief Blog? And why bother bashing something non-existent, as you are so inclined to believe? Notice? I said believe? Yes, you believe there is no God, as the believers believe there is a God. So what makes you so supperior? Hmmm......looks like some thinking at this juncture is needed.....

    December 30, 2010 at 11:35 am |
    • Artemis

      Because the religious have historically caused the most societal damage through their enforcement of their religious expectations. Challenging the statements is the way to offer opposing views and keep potential abuses to a minimum.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:48 am |
    • IntegralReality

      In counting the current responses, the faithful outnumber the god-less 2:1... so, your theory is garbage. Try doing some statistical analysis before posting in ignorance.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Singingdrum

      Theory? I have no theory. And I have nothing invested as I believe the Christian way is neither the best nor the only way to Spiritual Upliftment, but I do see every time I come to these pages angry posts from people ready to ponce on those who believe that we are more than flesh and bones. What is the draw for those people to make these posts? Is it their anger that they are placed on this Rock for no apparent reason? Do they desire to take from others their faith just because they have none? I find the articles in this series of interest and would more than appreciate to read positive comments and constructive thoughts on the articles, not Tigers lying in wait just to ponce on another's faith!

      December 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • IntegralReality

      Pounce, not ponce. I was willing to give you a break the first time, but the second is a display of your inability to spell correctly.
      Also, I'm so glad you displayed further ignorance. My post said nothing of christianity, that is in your mind. The word I used was faithful, which can be any theist. Thanks for playing though, and thanks for pointing out that I'm correct.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
    • Singingdrum

      That spelling error is most likely due to a sticky key. My keyboard has been pounced (there-got it) upon one too many times, I suppose. As for proving anything correct or incorrect, I think you've proven nothing but faulty thinking, and lack of open mindedness of us Theists which proves my point.

      December 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  16. Katie

    Besides reading the Bible, she didn't really say HOW she lost the weight. What did she read that changed her? Did some passage inspire her to follow through with her diet? I hardly believe that just reading a book will make you lose weight. What was in the book that drove her?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  17. BigNutz

    That is the stupidest thing I have ever read. But you know what, whatever works, I guess. Once again, Jesse Ventura's comment "Religion is a crutch for the weak minded" is proven beyond a doubt.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • thorrsman

      What does it say that you rely on the words of a failed actor, failed politician and professional fraud (wrestler) for inspiration?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @thorrsman: Is that what drove you to religion? The revelation that professional wrestling was scripted and choreographed?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • 3vix6

      Jesse Ventura is not a failed politician.. In fact, he was the best governor that the State of Minnesota had. I used to live in MN, I know. He did a better job than both the past Governor (Arnie Carlson) and the present governor (Tim Pawlenty).

      Religion is a krutch.. It's so easy to feel like you're putting your problems into someone elses hands rather than taking your problems into your own hands.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:49 am |
    • Bill

      Navy seal who never lost an election and made millions as a writer, actor and wrestler (actor). First politician to internet campaign, won a governors seat as an an independent, ran the state with a surplus, walked away on his own accord after one term because he is a supporter of term limits.

      Yeah, he's a failure. What have you done?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:58 am |
    • Karen

      It's sad to say it, but you and I don't just need a crutch - we need someone to save our lives - from eternal punishment in hell! Jesus Christ is my Savior - saving me from that punishment and providing me with a blessed eternal life in heaven with Him. Jesus Christ is my Savior - saving me from hell. What are you counting on - to save you from eternal punishment?

      December 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  18. .308


    December 30, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  19. Shawn

    I'm agnostic, but congratulations if this woman found something to believe in that helped her in her everyday life.

    To be honest, I have no problem with what people want to believe...God, Buddha, or Todd's Spaghetti monster (Ramen instead of Amen made me laugh hysterically).

    My basic problem is with Christianity is their very very conversionist stance.

    You have your faith, and it makes you happy..awesome.

    I have mine and I'm happy...leave me alone.

    BUT...you can't....because its mandated in your faith that you MUST spread the word. You must go to countries where people are desperate and give them what they need and tell them disbelief in God and Jesus is their reason and if they will only believe in God, things will get better. Then they die of malaria.

    Let me give you my take on organized religion. Let's imagine for a second that I am a wealthy ruler in ancient times. I rule over uneducated, poor masses who are getting unruly as their condition worsens. How do I remedy this?

    By the promise of something better. Oh yes, my friends, you may not be happy now, but if you just act right and persevere, there will be streets of gold for you, not right now, but later! By the way, you also need to not steal my stuff or even think about wanting it, don't mess with my wife, don't kill me, make sure you are only worshipping this God I'm showing you because he will very angry if not.

    If you do all this, you will live as I do in your next life....and BAM, societal control among the uneducated masses goes into affect. Priests are assigned to continue the message, prayer and religious routine are added so that the focus becomes more on the religion rather than the current condition.

    And the clergy and ruling body...is happy..and safe.

    Author, congratulations for finding what you needed to do something important in your life. Christians, shame on you for not acknowledging that your faith MANDATES you force your religion on those around you.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:32 am |
    • Bill

      "You must go to countries where people are desperate and give them what they need and tell them disbelief in God and Jesus is their reason and if they will only believe in God, things will get better. Then they die of malaria."

      Pure literary genius.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:41 am |
    • Artemis

      There it is in a nutshell! 🙂

      December 30, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  20. Janet

    Wonderful description of our struggles here – the desire to meet a need we don’t recognize, but that we so often think will be met by food! Thank you for these wise words Lysa, God bless you and all those who decide to follow your direction to a better life in the New Year!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:31 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.