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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. Crystel

    Lysa, thank you for saying "yes" to God and writing this article. I'm sure you knew ahead of time that you would have some pretty crazy comments on this post, but I was definitely not prepared for it! So, from those of us who follow you daily, thank you for transparently living your life. Your encouragement and experiences are an inspiration to more of us than you can imagine!

    December 31, 2010 at 1:18 am |
  2. Some Dude

    Or maybe all these fat people should stop blaming other things and just freakin EXERCISE

    December 31, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  3. Some Dude

    maybe all these fat people should stop blaming other things and just freakin EXERCISE

    December 31, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  4. Tamar

    I can't help but be stunned by the fury and ugliness expressed in some of these comments. I had to sift through them to find comments that actually pertain to the article. I am always interested to learn how someone confronts and resolves an issue. I suppose that what Lysa writes about here isn't new, as some comments suggest. No, it isn't new, because the truth, my friends, is an old story. It has been around for a long time and will be continue to be so. I may or may not share the author's religious views; so what? She wrote about her journey and her experience. I used to think people gave credit (or blame) to God when they should take credit or blame onto themselves. Now older and more hard-bitten, I appreciate someone having the humility to say she turned to God for help. Maybe we individuals aren't the center of the universe. Ever consider that? Just a thought.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
  5. Emily

    Lisa,
    You're an inspiration, not only because you have lost weight and kept it off, but because you love Jesus and aren't afraid to tell the world – even in hostile places like this. I hope that your feelings aren't too hurt by the comments here, although I'm sure that you are used to criticism in your line of work. 🙂
    I have already read your Crave book, and want you to know that it is changing my life. I too love Jesus and have really struggled with food's control, and reading your book has helped me understand just what was going on spiritually. When ANYTHING has more control in my life, or takes up more of my mental/physical time and energy, than my relationship with Christ, it's become an idol. For some it's alcohol, others drugs or relationships or money – my idol: food. You have helped me realize HOW to make the necessary changes in my life, so THANK YOU. And at the end of my life, when I stand face-to-face with my Creator, I want Him to know that I placed NOTHING above Him. No addiction will define me, only a love for Christ – and I most definitely want my actions to show that. So I have started my journey to rid my life of this idol, thanks to you. 🙂
    I hope you know that God is using you in women's lives to help them break free from this (undercover) addiction. I'm just sorry you've taken a beating here in the process. (But we know that we are here to please God, not men, so whatev. 😉

    December 30, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  6. Lori

    Come on Lysa, show us the goods! Post a picture on your website of you, the fat girl with "cellulite on her hiney". I just don't see any photos of you without make-up or the least bit of fat. This all sounds manufactured; designed to elicit the woe is me emotion and then sell a truckload of books.

    Do thinking, educated Christian women really fall for this?? Or is this something to just fill all those idle bible study hours with eleven of their best girlfriends for the next several weeks?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
    • Beth

      I want to take this course with my bible study group. We aren't eleven women, but six. When I looked into how much it was, the book was $15 and the entire package was $45. Four of us are out of work, one has been cut back to part-time and only one of us is unscathed by this economy. Bottom line: we can't afford to do this.

      I just wish Lysa would realize that people are hurting right now. This could have been a wonderful gift if she had put this on her website for free. I know she wouldn't have received royalty checks, but she would know she was helping, really helping some poor Jesus girls.

      December 31, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  7. sawzgirl

    Lysa, you have definitely struck a chord here with all the comments. I hope you are praying for all the lost people who posted to this article and I pray that you are not letting their negative comments get to you. You have found the key and your peace is the proof – don't let the enemy convence you otherwise. You are brave to open yourself up to the world for them to ridicule you. I pray that this book will help many and return 100 fold to you. God Bless you sister!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  8. Sarah

    Thanks for your powerful testimony of seeking God first in all of life! You are an inspiration to others who want to follow Jesus wholeheartedly!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  9. Shelli

    Thank you Lysa for sharing this message. I know I have the same issue with food as you did. I am looking forward to Made to Crave so that I can address the root of my problem – turning to food instead of God.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  10. Stacy

    Thank you Lysa for sharing your struggle and your faith. I think being able to give God the glory for your weight loss is AWESOME!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  11. Stacie

    This is exactly what we Women need to hear! Thanks Lysa, can't wait to read your book!!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
  12. Julie

    I am inspired every day a Lysa Terkheurst blog finds it's way into my inbox. Thank you Lysa for all your wisdom and humor. and all your Jesus girlfriends say Amen!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  13. lacoaster

    Lots of things happen because of decisions we take, not take or by things we can or cannot control. For some, when they wish something, what matters is to make it to the goal one way or another. Isn't that what's important? (I am not too sure) Through a bizzarre procedure and theory (opinion), the author got what she wanted.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
  14. Kelly

    For over 2000 people have tried to squash Christianity. It makes no difference that the heart of it – the real heart of it as is only exemplified by the life and actions of Christ – is about treating others (the poor, the hurt, even the angry) with respect, dignity and compassion.

    The bottom line is that to some, Christianity offends. Christ offends. Jesus Himself warned believers of this very fact. It's like holding a mirror up to ourselves and seeing some things we don't really like. People don't like that. It's easier to pull everyone else down...to hide in the darkness and try to scare others from that same illuminating Light. (And yet, they miss the gift of grace. It covers, completes, strengthens and beautifies.)

    So for over 2000 people have tried to silence believers. They are ridiculed for their religion of love. They are despised by those who hate the light that they bring in trying to help others ... as Lysa does here. She really put herself out there. Her name, her story...to help others.

    You see, that's just what followers of Christ do. We keep reaching out. We keep sharing the stories of a Man who stood in the face of religious hypocrites to lift up the poor and the sick. He ate dinner with the outcasts. He refused to be silenced about His love for God, His Father. He wouldn't play the political game. And we can't hold a candle to Him.

    So many hate-filled postings only cause me to praise my God all the more. You can cover up Christianity's seed of truth. Bury it. Stamp on it and shake the dust off of your hands and walk away, hoping that you have forever killed this seed that someone planted in love. But Christianity...Truth...has a way of rising up. It won't be covered. It won't be silenced. People have been trying to do it for over 2,000 years. So God bless you....no matter your opinion.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Actually, for thousands of years it has been Christians who have been squashing and silencing and torturing and invading and oppressing everyone else. Christians play the victims, but they have been in power since Emperor Constantine.

      Do note the hate that your loving Christian brethren have shared on these posts.

      Lysa did not "really put herself out" here; she is cashing in on gullable Christians by throwing a bunch of Jesus babble into a diet book. Look her up – she is selling everything she can think of to gullible Christians who mistake her greed for piety. This article is nothing but an ad for her to sell her book, which promises spiritual redemption and a great body – boy, set those poor buyers up for double disappointment!

      Jesus repeatedly instructed his followers to sell all their possessions and give the money to the poor. Lysa instructs you to buy her books so she can get richer. The Christians blogging here are disregarding Jesus and obeying Lysa.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
  15. Skegeee

    Oh my gosh- WHY DO GOD HATERS EVEN READ/COMMENT?! GET A LIFE!! WE GET IT! YOU DON'T BELIEVE. SO GO AWAAAAAAY, LOSERS!

    If God wanted to create a tree in 30 seconds He could do it- you would cut it down and still see rings, which according to your "scientific method" would mean it's that many "years" old even though God created it 30 seconds go. He's BEYOND your science because He's not constrained by the laws of time or science. DUH! Wouldn't you be that powerful if YOU were God?!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Yeah! And I bet God can create a purple pickle in 4.2 seconds flat if he wanted to and you could see Lindsay Lohan's face inside, too, which proves God is real!

      Are you sober? I mean, your post is really out there.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Skegeee, very good analogy, if you have seen a tree materialize in 30 seconds, if not your analogy really makes no sense.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Didn't David Copperfield make a tree appear in 30 seconds once? I guess that means that David Copperfield is God. He definitely made the Statue of Liberty disappear and reappear once, and that is better than any old "make a tree apear in 30 seconds" act, so then David Copperfield must be better than God.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  16. Jessica

    Thank you, Lysa, for sharing such an encouraging story. Praise God for His workings through all of it. can't wait to start on your book.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
  17. Monica

    Excellent article, Lysa! So thankful to the Lord for continuing to open doors for you to share His message with the world.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
  18. Bekah

    Enjoyed this post. Thank you Lysa and thank you CNN for sharing this!

    December 30, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
  19. JohnQuest

    Elizabeth, If there was a God and that God cared about the trivial and big issues in our lives, the world would be a very different place.

    December 30, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
  20. Kim

    Thank you Lysa for helping all of us!!!! I love that you know exactly what many are going through! JESUS ROCKS!!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 7:41 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.