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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. Bob Dobbs

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster helped me out with my weight problem. And that's really saying something about His awesome power given that he is a plate full of carbs.

    December 30, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  2. Muneef

    She was saying the usual prayers before eating,it does help a lot since by that you wave all evil spirits "Satans" to eat through you...

    Wouldn't you want to read what has been said about Jesus PBUH in the Holy Quran?

    http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/Prophet/isa.htm

    December 30, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
  3. Penny Stanton

    What the writer states makes so much sense, and I am athiest. And it makes sense because the issue at hand is: how do you fill an emptiness inside that you are misreading as physical hunger? Because if you have eaten three balanced meals a day, in healthy portions with a few healthy snacks, you may think you are physically hungry, but you are not (except in the beginning of a new weight management effort - then, it's just outlasting the shock of your body to reduced caloric intake). But the inner emptiness that drove you to misuse food still exists - how do you fill it? The author fills it with God - that wouldn't work for me since I am an athiest, as I have said. So I am trying to fill that emptiness with self talk - my parents are both deceased and I talk to them in my soul - I ask them to help me, give me courage, perseverence, etc. And, I use the quote from Susie Orman - I say, "Come on Penny (that's my name) - you are a warrior on the battlefield and will not be defeated!!" My late mother was a holocaust survivor and came to this country with the equivalen of $10.00 in her pocket - ultimately put herself through school and became a college professor. My grandparests escaped the Czar in Russia and came here with nothing as well, yet built a life despite fear and uncertainty. I use thse thoughts and memories to give me couragge, and it's working. I think to face the emptiness demon, we need to call out for strength beyond ourselves, be it God, Grandparents, Imagination, Art - but something. And then we can do it.

    December 30, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
    • Kim

      Penny, thank you for sharing your insight! You are such a respectful person. You were respectful of Lysa's belief and therefore receive much respect in return. Although I am a Christian and you are not, I can see that you are a great person! I love that you shared your opinion.

      December 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
    • Kim

      Penny, thank you for sharing your insight! You are such a respectful person. You were respectful of Lysa's and my belief and therefore receive much respect in return. I can see that you are a great person! I love that you shared your opinion.

      December 30, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  4. bluegoose

    It really saddens me to read some of these comments. God is REAL!!! and ALIVE!!! Lysa, thank you for sharing your story with conviction and heart. Can't wait to read the book!

    December 30, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  5. Tasha

    Lysa,

    You are right on with your thinking. Thank you for sharing with us!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  6. K8sMum

    so THAT'S why so many kids die from leukemia and other childhood cancers: god is busy helping fat chicks lose weight! now i can rest easy and feel better about losing our 19 yr old daughter after she fought like a warrior for 5 hard, hard years!

    gosh, it so lightens the feeling of loss and devastation...

    December 30, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      I'm sorry for your loss, but with God all things are possible. Healing from cancer, weight loss, and recovery from grief to name a few. Maybe it's time to quit blaming God and start to see Him for what he is. Someone who cares about the trivial as well as the serious problems in life.

      December 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Elizabeth, that had to be the most insensitive and absurd post on this article. K8sMum lost her young daughter, I would guess to a sad disease. Your response basically says that she was not saved because she was not right with God, that God cures cancer- but did not for K8sMum. That's really appalling ! That's really horrible. How spiritual and Christian of you.

      K8sMum is struggling with is called the Problem of Evil, a philosophical test of whether a religion accurately reflects how the world operates. It's a nasty test, because almost no religion passes, especially Christianity.

      December 30, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  7. Carmine Monoxide

    Just think, if you can improve you life that much by embracing something that doesn't exist, imagine the possibilities if you embrace reality!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • Greg

      "Just think, if you can improve you life that much by embracing something that doesn't exist, imagine the possibilities if you embrace reality!!!"

      lol, atheists amuse me. They say how atheism is not a belief while proclaiming the lack of a god and believing all sorts of wacky things about theists. They don't "embrace reality"?? Oh, do explain lol. I must be pretty skilled, mastering 3 science degrees with no concept of reality. ;-D

      January 3, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  8. P. T. Barnum

    “There's a sucker born every minute”

    “Every crowd has a silver lining.”

    December 30, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  9. Jon

    Actually, most of Lysa's problem was eating too much off the Chick-fil-A menu. Hubby owns a franchise. The TerKeurst family is fine with the masses eating his chicken biscuits and then buying her book to drop the pounds. They make a fortune both ways!

    December 30, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Wow, that's true! Her husband does own a Chick fil A! Lots of deep fried food, virtually no worthwhile vegetables, and no shortage of calories. Sell them the fat, then sell them the diet. "And the Lord sayeth, grab the cash at both ends."

      No surprise at all that Chick-Fil-A's corporate mission is "To Glorify God." No joke – check it out. Glorifying God through bad nutrition and enabling America's obesity problem. Bet you Christians all run out to eat some Chick-Fil-A now, chubbing out in the greater glory of God.

      December 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  10. Debbie

    Thank you so much Lysa, for your courage in writing this book to encourage others who desire to lose weight and gain a closer walk with Christ at the same time.

    December 30, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  11. JohnQuest

    Karen,

    I'm sure you know that every religion feels the same as you, (my God\s is\are the only God\s) and they use the same evidence as you do to justify their beliefs. If you think (know) that you are right, based on what you believe than you have to agree that others are right (since they use the same evidence and reasoning as you do).

    To put a point on it:
    If you agree that your beliefs are based on, how you feel, what's in your religious text, what other think and feel, what your deity has told you (through whatever means) and that is good enough for you to believe. Then it only makes sense that if someone else beliefs are based on the same things, you would have to agree that they are as right as you are.

    December 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  12. Tara

    Lysa lives near Charlotte, NC and is part of the megachurch, Elevation. She churns drivel out, different subject each time, in book form every year. It's a money-making deal. If you're dumb enough to buy into it, she's smart enough to take your money each time.

    December 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  13. gremlin

    I suppose this article was supposed to inspire, but it just made me angry. What happened to "God helps those who help themselves?" I am so sick of people abusing Christianity and just about every other religion by expecting it to solve all problems by just believing things will work out. Religion is supposed to inspire, not give people an excuse for everything. So she turned to "letting God fill up her soul instead of food." She's still not taking personal responsibility. Which means her likelihood of relapsing is increased. Of course if she does relapse, it will just be "God's will". I have no problem with religion, but I do have one with people who abuse it to duck their troubles. This is a terrible example for others.

    December 30, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      Christianity and religion does not solve problems-God does. And God cares about all aspects of our lives no matter how small they may seem to others. Lysa's message through "Made to Crave" says as much. I've never met Lysa but she is a sweet Christian woman who desires to let God work through her. I commend her for it!

      December 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
    • gremlin

      Thank you for proving my point. Praising people for leaving it in God's hands and skipping over that part where God is a source of strength to take charge of your own life. The latter is commendable, the former is an insult to God.

      December 30, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Gremlin, A God who helps those who helps themselves?
      1. That is NOWHERE in the Bible
      2. If we could help ourselves, we would not have a need for God!
      3. No need to get angry over it!

      December 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
    • Muneef

      God helps those who help themselves meaning they are to seek what they want and God will ease the way for them to get it but it will not come by it self to sit on your lap? If you fancy some thing chace it and you will get it...you have to make an effort towards what you want...intentions and determinations are required to reach your goal..

      December 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
    • Dusty

      You said, What happened to "God helps those who help themselves?"
      If you were to read the Bible you would not find that there. God helps those who CAN'T help themselves. That scenario is played out over and over in both Old and New Testaments. Do your homework.

      January 18, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  14. Janice

    Lysa, got your book today! Amen!! May GOD BE GLORIFIED.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  15. Salvatore

    Aeithist... You are a stronger person than me and your graciousness is impresive and inspirational. That you were able to see the beauty of the articale and describe it so well makes me want to be a better Atheist. Thank you. (I'm not being sarcastic).

    December 30, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  16. AstraNavigo

    Moo....

    December 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  17. Aeithist

    I like this article. Very simply put most people's weight problems are a deep discontentment and use food as a distraction, as a comfort, as a crutch. When you are able to find peace within yourself, you will find happiness and resolution. Then, you will be able to stop abusing food. If this is through God for one, Buddha for another, a therapist, or just real, deep introspection – it's the peace that matters.

    Congratulations on finding your peace!.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  18. Tyler Rowan

    Kudos to CNN for posting a story of faith! It's nice to see that, in spite of the influx of hate comments, CNN is willing to stand out from the crowd and refuse to present stories that only fit the "politically correct" mindset of anti-Christianity.

    Lysa, your story is an inspiration to so many women! Thank you for your wililngness to let God use your imperfections to help others.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Bill

      Hey doofus, It's the belief blog, all of the stories are about faith.

      Duh!

      December 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
    • Know What

      Sorry, but I'll wait for the book by someone who has had an amputated limb restored by this 'faith'...

      December 30, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  19. JohnQuest

    Dj BionicBounce, seems to me from reading your post that you did all the work, now say again what God did?

    December 30, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  20. LHL

    Lysa-can't wait to read the book. Really sadens me to see all of this nasty talk on the comments. I have yet to encounter anyone who actually took time to study scripture who can remain a non believer. By studying scripture I do NOT mean pulling out a few lines that are derogatory to women to prove a particular point

    December 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
    • .Guapo.

      Thats funny....reading the bible from front to back is the quickest way to make an atheist out of someone. I am all for everyone picking one up and seeing for themselves what a horror show it is.

      December 30, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      I have studied "scripture" and a host of other religious text, at first I thought I was missing something, how could all these people believe in something and I don't. I thought there was some truth to it, I just had to find it. After a life time of searching I discovered that I have not missed anything (except for the time a wasted in a fruitless quest). The more I studied the more I realized how senseless it was to believe in a deity.

      December 30, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • Know What

      LHL,
      "I have yet to encounter anyone who actually took time to study scripture who can remain a non believer."

      You don't get out much, do you?

      For starters, you can check out Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Hector Avalos, who are among a mult!tude of Bible scholars who became non-believers after their extensive studies...

      December 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Guapo.
      Thats funny....reading the bible from front to back is the quickest way to make an atheist out of someone. I am all for everyone picking one up and seeing for themselves what a horror show it is.
      -----
      It appears you read it without any spiritual understanding. That can only come by the Holy Spirit! You're right about one thing thought! It is indeed a horror show (particularly the Book of Revelation, for unbelievers that is)!

      December 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      I have read the Bible (new and old testaments), the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, a great deal of Buddhist scripture, and part of the Book Of Mormon (couldn't finish it – Mark Twain was right, it is chloroform in print). I read them searching for possibilities when I was younger, and almost all of them turned me off with their cruelties and demands, their impossible stories and preposterous ideas. Buddhism was the only one that was tolerable (very humane philosophy, much better than Christianity or Islam), but I still could not believe it as a theology.

      I ended up an existentialist, and am so much the better for it.

      You might be surprised to find we atheists are better read in religion than religious people are. Studies have proven that. Studies have also found we are more opposed to torture and capital punishment, have lower rates of divorce, and are less likely to commit a major crime. The web provides easy access to these studies – feel free to google them and find out for yourself. While religious people assume that you cannot have morality without religion, all these actual studies reveal that religion actually seems to be an impediment to morality.

      If I must read an ancient book, I think I will choose the Iliad over the Bible – much better writing.

      December 30, 2010 at 5:21 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.