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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. Ykcyc

    Ask not what your God can do for you, ask what you can do for yourself!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  2. Jeremiah

    Matthew 7:6

    December 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  3. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    Wow! What a bunch of suckers! All someone has to do to get rich in this country is to hawk whatever scam product or book they can think of by linking it to God, and the Christians will fall all over themselves to buy it; they will even protect the scamster from those warning of the scam.

    I am becoming Christian tody and writing a book, going on a lecture tour, and creating an online site to pedal my scams . . . because I am watching you fall all over yourselves to buy this woman's absurd book.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  4. Vicki Foss

    Thanks Lysa! Great article. Looking forward to more!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  5. Jane

    So this article is basically free advertisement for some hokey book?

    The whole point should be to love yourself enough to make your life better. Not praying to someone who never wanted a religion based on them. I'm sure if this lady was a Muslim, you Christians would be screaming that it's all BS.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  6. Teske

    Praying these verses today as I read through the comments...1 Peter 3:15-16, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

    Thank you for this important message, Lysa, and for helping people see that the God who created us, created us to crave more of HIM!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  7. Carol!

    Thank you Lysa! Please keep up the good work! You have made a very big impact on this girls life this past year! Please dont ever stop your messages coming through. There maybe non-belivers out there but you are reaching and helping so many people also! I am one of them! Ill be watching your webcast on Jan. 10! Thank you so much and dont ever stop what your doing! Love ya Girl!!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  8. Sue

    You get into trouble when you deviate from eating food as God made it. Human beings were never meant to consume refined sugar, flour, and hydrogenated fats. If you've ever seen Supersize Me, you'll realize how addictive that stuff is because it's lacking in nutrients. You don't realize it, but you're actually starving to death on a diet of junk food.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • Sandy Cooper

      Supersize Me is one of my all-time favorite movies. It should be required viewing for all Americans. 🙂

      December 30, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  9. bob

    After reading comments here I have to put my 2 cents in.. Religion has caused nothing but wars.. Period. What better way to "control" people than to create an alpha male that you can't confront, can't reason with or kill and if you don't "follow" his rules, you go to hell. Scare tactics don't work anymore like they used to. Now its "kill in the name of god and get 20 virgins" I'd prefer a few pros in there, but that's just me. Religion is like politics, no matter what proof you have in front of you, you're still wrong. As we get more information, the old writings start to make less sense, its too bad when they wrote the word of god, they didn't have the hubble telescope.
    Too bad we couldn't get all the extremist to one part of the world, let them duke it out like a huge WWE royal rumble. At least the rest of us could live in peace. Happy New Year!!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  10. Sally Outz

    Having spent most of my life overweight it wasn't until I realized that I couldn't lose the weight on my own that I cried
    out to God and asked Him to help me. It worked! Being a Christian I knew all of God's promises but until I remembered that
    He gives us the ultimate Helper, the Holy Spirit, did I realize the power I could claim! My weight loss journey also brought me closer to my heavenly Father. I have not read Lysa's book but can't wait to read of her experience of Truth! Yes, the Truth will set you free....!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • Dave

      All I know is that I asked God to help me lose 100 pounds and the next day my leg was cut off in an industrial accident. Thank you God YOU ARE AWESOME!

      December 30, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • Fricsaid

      @Dave.....your leg weighed 100lbs??? No disrespect, but dude, you must be a tank.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • Dave

      Yeah I was sooooo fat – and God helped me in his usual mysterious fashion

      December 30, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  11. MrDLoomis

    The concept of God and heaven is nothing more than wishful thinking, due to an unreasonable fear of death. The God of the bible is nothing more than a precocious, malevolent brat who makes humans and wipes them out on a whim.

    Take the myth of the Great Flood. So God gets upset with the folks down below and decides to drown them because they are wicked. What about the babies (infants) who are supposedly without sin...why would he kill them too? This makes the biblical God nothing more than a mass-murderer. What about the senseless slaughter of the animals? What did they ever do to deserve being drowned? And what of the fish? Did they get a pass because they already lived in the water? And, what of life forms like bacteria? Where did the great Noah store these on the Ark (or didn't they have bacteria then?

    Besides, God, the all-knowing, all-seeing, already knew they would become wicked and that he would wipe them out of existence. He knew this the moment he made them, if not before.

    And, Just when do all of these prayers get answered, anyway? You can pray day and night and nothing happens (except that it may make you feel like you did something). The great thing about praying to a God is that he might answer your prayers, he won't answer your prayers, or he will answer them. No matter what, it's a win-win-win for God. The deck is stacked in his favor, no matter what happens.

    What about this? (A true story that happened in the community where I live): A family member is in a bad car wreck. He is in the hospital in critical condition. Everyone else in the wreck dies, but "miraculously" he survives, but just barely. He is hanging on by a mere thread. The members of his church gather and pray day and night. He gets better and is upgraded to "guarded but stable condition". The churchers sing their praise that their prayers were answered, and God gave him back to them.

    Two days later he slips into a coma and dies. Their answer: It was God's will.

    Wait a minute! What kind of God lets someone get into a bad wreck and suffer like that, get noticeably better, raise the hopes of the family and friends, and then kills him? That's pretty precocious if you ask me.

    It's unfortunate that reasonable, educated people will swallow this baloney hook, line, and sinker without giving thought to a critical review of their beliefs.

    Religion is a load of bunk that has been foisted upon society to control the ignorant and weak. We need to move from the 1st century into the present and stop defining lives according to a collection of books that have no basis in fact.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  12. Sharon

    Lysa, I so appreciate your candor about your weight loss struggles and the reason for your success. Jesus is the reason! I could relate with so much of your story as I, too, once relied on my own strength to lose weight and would get mad at God when I failed miserably. On April 18, 2009 I cried out to God to help me with my excessive weight and to help me get healthy. Day by day, as I began to rely on His strength and not my own, He was faithful to help me! Since that day I have lost 63 pounds and have kept 50 of those pounds off for more than a year. The glory belongs to God alone! There is NO WAY my success would have happened without Him. He is so faithful to help those who call on Him! 🙂

    December 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  13. Fricsaid

    Why are Atheist always attracted to stories about God? Why do you always want to talk about unicorns and ignorance and suffering? Why can't you accept the fact that many of us have has life changing experiences that proves to us that there is a God? Why do you try so hard to take that from us? I've always said, you see what you seek. To speak of nothing but bad things, what exactly is it that you do seek?

    December 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • Dave

      If you can understand the mentality of internet trolls and 4chan kids, you'll have your answer. It's sad, really.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  14. Rechelle

    Lysa, Your article is awesome. We must always remember that the Bible is our instruction guide to life on this earth & you are a reminder of that to all of us. To be filled with Jesus definitely fills a void inside that is unexplainable. Thank you for being such a great example for all of us Jesus girls!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  15. Karen

    Lysa, I agree! Thank you so much for this article! God bless you!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  16. Michele

    Looking forward to reading the book, and love your daily email letters. I am sure you expected that your article and your journey would be bashed by the wandering and they did not disappoint. Will be praying for all of them.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  17. julie

    Lisa kudos for stepping out, here comes the criticism and ugliness of the enemy, as we can see from some of these comments. God has prepared you for such a time as this. Remember that when mean people are shoveling the crap your way. You go girl and I will be praying for you!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
  18. Reading4Life

    Lysa, thank you for following God's lead in revealing God's truth to us. Regardless of comments to the contrary, it is so true that laying our struggles at the feet of Jesus allows us to then move forward in His strength. God bless you, Lysa.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
  19. don

    My My My My My......I couldn't agree more! Will power is never enough....we definitely need help from God. He sustains us and its in Him that we move and breath and have our being.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  20. Mark

    @Guapo..
    "Care to share with us the evidence for the existence of you god that science is overlooking?"

    Sure, but let me first say that science isn't "overlooking" it. As if to imply that..."oh, gee....we just didn't see that". Science is looking directly at it, but chooses not to believe, acknowledge, or accept it. It's funny to me that a host of "Bible believing" scientists with the same education, the same credetials, the same tools and talents can look at the same "scientific data" and came to entirely different conclusions. I'm talking about real men and women, with real PhDs from real Universities.

    The evidence your looking is right in your face. Go outside and look up. Condider how completely mind boggling that complexity of the human body is for that matter even the simplest one celled organisms are. Unbelievably complex. If we look at something in everyday life that has order and complexity we don't attribute it to chance.

    December 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • .Guapo.

      Ah...the old irreducible complexity argument. Also known as well golly gee Tommy I cant figure out how all of these complex things are the way they are so.......GOD DID IT! I guess we should all throw our hands in the air, stop all scientific research and say "screw it, god did it all, lets go home". Just becuase you and your ilk cant figure something out or think its really really hard doesnt mean others cant.

      We know why the body is the way it is and how it evolved that way. Same goes for single celled organisms as well.

      Looking around you in awe of all the grandiose things in this universe is not proof god exists.

      Next?

      December 30, 2010 at 1:28 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.