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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. Jonathan

    Regardless of my differing religious beliefs, I am glad this lady found a way to lose the calories. Every-one of us finds creative ways to accomplish difficult things. We all have a battle, and we all learn to deal with them in our own human way. I am thankful for the free speech that allowed her to write the article. Celebrate her accomplishment and leave her alone.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      If she chooses to use her freedom of speech to publically credit "god" with all of her own hard work, I'll choose to use my freedom of speech to publically call "shenanigans" and "shame on you."

      December 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  2. parkca01

    So what did you change? How did you suddenly stop overindulging in french fries? I'm missing something key, here... You had god before, how did he step in suddenly?

    December 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • Crystals Mom

      read the book.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  3. Mindi

    Amazing! Thank you for writing and for your sincerity and openness.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  4. Crystals Mom

    Thank you CNN for publishing this! It's obvious people are very passionate about their choosen beliefs, God created many nations. I usually don't read articles that don't interest me so I'm always curious as to why people who protest the thought of God being my (our) creator would read this article in the first place? I pray Lysa's story and book will bless you.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  5. Mandy

    Thank you Lysa for being so bold and honest. I love how God wants to be a part of EVERY aspect of our lives! My mom and i just got your book and we are so excited to start this study together. Although i wouldnt mind losing some weight my main goal is to fall more and more in love with Jesus! Keep on keeping on Lysa, dont give up!

    December 30, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  6. allanhowls

    Dear Fat Girl,

    Put down the cookie, and leave me out of your daddy issues. I'm too busy deciding which political party believes in me.

    Sincerely,
    God

    December 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  7. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    This woman is so right. I was mad at God myself because my refridgerator didn't work. But I was wrong – I re-examined my faith and looked to the scriptures, and now I have a refrigerator that works! There it was, in Corinthians 97:304 – "Get off thine lazy behind and just hire a repair man for thine appliances and diet and exercise for thy excessive voluminousness, for I the Lord have better things to do than worry about thy stuff and thy big booty."

    December 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
  8. Just Me

    Let's see..

    Step 1: Get Fat
    Step 2: Use the Bible to get thin
    Step 3: Write a book to get rich and fleece the faithful

    Yea I'm sure that's how Jesus did it.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
    • Reality

      To the point and priceless!!!

      December 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      If my moral foundation was a little less sound, I would be very, very tempted to go this route to make a few bucks.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  9. Melissa

    Such a fresh new way to look at weight. I have struggled with this forever. I have always been an emotional eater, but never thought that I was replacing God with food. I can't wait to read your book. I know it is exactly what I need right now. Oh such a wonderful way to start the new year...journeying through weight loss while seeking a closer relationship with God.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  10. Lisa

    Thank you, Lysa! Those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ completely grasp what you are saying and we thank you for your testimony. I scanned through some of the comments and it's interesting that those who profess to be athiests took time to read an article in the "religious" blogs. Most of these people will boast about their non-belief as long as life is going okay. My father, who was in Vietnam twice, always said "There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole". That's why you always hear about people coming to Christ on their deathbeds; it's easy to worship the world instead of Christ but when it comes to the end, most people will reconsider.

    At any rate, this is not about atheism . . . it's about putting Jesus Christ first in all things. Once we do that, our lives are changed. Whether it's weight, alcoholism, smoking, abuse, financial issues, or any other problem/addiction, once we turn everything over to Him, He will handle it for us.

    Thank you for writing this!

    December 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  11. Leah DiPascal

    Finally!!! Not just another diet book that is filled with wishful thinking and complicated eating plans. This book will not only help shed unwanted pounds but will change your life...from the inside out!

    December 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  12. Reality

    And why "pray tell" would any woman use "Saint" Paul as a guiding light???

    Anti-female comments in his epistles.

    8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
    9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
    10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
    11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
    12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
    13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
    14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
    15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
    ( Timothy 2:8-15 KJV)"

    “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)"

    "He (Paul) feared the turn-on of women's voices as much as the sight of their hair and skin..... At one point he even suggests that the sight of female hair might distract any angels/ "pretty wingie talking fictional thingies" in church attendance (1 Cor. 11:10). (from Professor Chilton's book Rabbi Paul).

    December 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
    • Seriously?

      Obviously you know nothing about the bible. Many of the examples you give are from the Old Testament (before the atonement), when people lived by the old law. And your reference to Paul's writings, although part of the New Testament, were from his letters where he was writing to people who lived according to the customs of that time. Today, because Christ died on the cross for our sins, we should live by the teachings of the New Testament. Otherwise we would still be making animal sacrifices. If you're going to quote scripture, you should know the scriptures better.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • Reality

      What Professor JD Crossan has to say about atonement theology: (from his book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)

      "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

      "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

      "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

      December 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  13. Happy

    Why would you read the belief blog if you don't believe? Let go of that anger! Even if you don't believe in our Savior, please find something positive to focus on.

    Great article Lysa!

    December 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  14. Who's Really the Bad Guy?

    God exists and satan exists, and there is a constant battle going on between good and evil every day. Just because you call yourself a non-believer and choose to ignor this fact doesn't make it go away. You may think that by ignoring it you are not chosing sides but you are. Stop blaming all the bad things in the world on God and recognize who is really responsible. God gave us the right to choose. Choose wisely.

    Thank you Lysa for sharing your story and your success. I'm sorry that so many people have to turn it into this.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
    • LB

      AMEN!!!!

      December 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • Dave

      Exactly, he gave us free will and its up to us to implement it. God is not transient, WE are the transient.

      if people want to know what is wrong with the world, then they need to wake up to the Illuminati

      truthknowledge. com/The_System.php
      truthknowledge. com

      The system feeds us darkness only, no LOVE.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  15. susanballouphotography

    I'm amazed the amount of hate that is coming from the "secular" zealots... makes me want to be a Christian.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  16. Jenna

    If your life is so spiritually bankrupt that you need God to solve all your problems, you are deluding yourself even further to think that you have solved your problems. You are like an alcoholic that drinks to hide her problem, but when you give up the alcohol you are the same person because – you haven't dealt with the real problem. You are looking for easy ways out. So you found God. The rest of us know that you are still lost.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  17. Jo

    Great job Lysa!! Keep pressing on. God Bless

    December 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  18. Nickell

    Getting mad at an imaginary figure? You people are foolish, There is no mythical god out there watching you, we are just a species on this planet no better than dogs or cats wake up

    December 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  19. Mr. Sniffles

    This article is even dumber than the "Is Harry Potter a Christian" one (and the Harry Potter one was really really stupid). And look, like the Harry Potter one, the author has a book to sell. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

    For centuries in this country, hucksters have plied their cons on religious folk, who got taken because the huckster said "god" and "the good lord." Easy pickings for a sales slick.

    Get out your wallets, good Christians! This Good Christian Woman has some fine God-diet snake oil for you, the best you ever did see. Even better than the Harry Potter snake oil!

    Religious people sure lack BS detectors.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  20. Beth

    Lysa – thanks for sharing this story. Jesus has changed my life and I love to hear how He is working in the lives of others. Your transparency is an encouragement and challenge to all us Jesus girls. Keep speaking the truth!

    December 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
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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.