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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. Vicky

    Great article! My copy of "Made to Crave" is in the mail & I can't wait to read and apply it! Perfect timing! thanks!

    December 31, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  2. Mark

    @Mr. Sniffles...

    Yep, that's right. I'm "hostile". Athiests like yourself cruise the websites looking for anyone that appears to be religious (or Christian) and then proceed to fire off one insulting and mocking post after another without any kind of provocation and then I'm the one who's "hostile". Typical respone.
    Guess what, Christians get angry too. We also do other things like eat, and brush our teeth, and use the restroom. Surprised??
    If you want to believe your way...fine. But I get sick of hearing about how "religious folk" are cramming Christianity down your throat.

    December 31, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Maybe some anger management therapy would help.

      December 31, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  3. Kathryn

    Hey Lysa,
    Way to go, honey. I think you are amazing and right on the money. I know your Jesus. I bet He is beaming from ear to ear. I pray for all those on this thread that don't know Him to find their way to Him. I used to doubt and deny Him too. I remember feeling all skeptical and angry and judgemental and sarcastic. The really cool thing is that He loves ALL of us even when we are totally crotchety and snotty about Him. He can handle all that. He's just too cool for words. You just keep on doing your thing Lysa.You are NOT alone. Love, Kathryn

    December 31, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
    • Tammie

      Thank you.

      January 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  4. Mark

    @Mr. Sniffles..

    "You villify without understanding".

    Well, then I have only to beg your forgiveness "o educated one".

    "Lysa is out to make a lot of money by selling lots of books and lectures and programs". Now......what was that you were saying about villifying before understanding???

    I echo your sentiments. Your post displays an equally profound ignorance of Christianity. Good for you. You did well on a survey. How many apostles where there? Oooh Oooh....I know....12. That's pure genuis!!!

    Big difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge my friend. It's an old, old saying but nevertheless it's still true. Most people will miss heaven by about 12 inches. When you and I stand in front of God one day, I'm pretty sure he's not going to ask either of us how much education we have. I'm an "educated" person too. I've been to college. A lot of it. Have 2 degrees in fact. Science degrees no less. But I'm not relying on my "education" to make me right in God's eyes.

    December 31, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Sorry to hear that your science degree appears wasted. The whole world is under the grip of god wars,and we are expected to think that this being is concerned about the weight of one person, when hundreds die every day in other parts of the world of hunger. A very bizarre god. The bible can be interpreted in any way to make it fit with common experiences, it is not so much as blue print but more an "as built"

      December 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      You are very hostile. Are you sure you are a Christian?

      December 31, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  5. Mark

    @Mr. Sniffles...

    "Lysa is out to make a lot of money by selling lots of books and lectures and programs. There is something peculiarly not-Christlike in that".

    What in Heaven's name would you know about what is or isn't "Christ" like? Don't you have to know someone first and know their characteristics before you can compare them to someone else???

    Better not let any of your athiestic cohorts know that you know any "Christ" like characteristics....might get your membership revoked.

    December 31, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Actually, as a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life showed, athiests and agnostics scored the highest on a test of religious knowledge.

      The study "concluded that those who reject faith often do so after growing up in a religious household, and studying and deliberating keeping the faith. Also, atheists and agnostics tend to be better educated in general."

      On the other hand, your post displays a profound ignorance of atheism. My "atheistic cohorts" also know a lot about religion, and there is no membership to revoke. You villify without understanding.

      December 31, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
    • jody

      Mark and others....Don't bother responding to sniffles. The further along Lysa gets in serving, the more she and her family will be verbally attacked. So actually their responses mean that God is at work through Lysa's ministry...awesome!

      January 2, 2011 at 3:57 am |
    • Ann

      I, too, was raised Catholic and was quite active in the church as a young person, until I came to my senses and, well, gave it up for Lent. So, I do feel that I am well-informed about what I am criticizing.

      January 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Sadthatiwastedmyeveningonthis

      Ann – so you just gave it up on Fridays?

      January 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  6. YouMatter

    We all have a story to tell. Thanks for sharing your story Lysa!

    December 31, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  7. William S. Fallowsworth

    If religious belief is somehow related to being thin, then one would best convert to Hindu, for they are far thinner than Christians.

    December 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  8. Patricia

    Lysa,
    You are such an inspiration ~ can't wait to read the book!

    December 31, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  9. Reality

    Start the New Year by saving your Christian friends from the Resurrection Con? Of course, read below:

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists).

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    December 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  10. Zach

    It's equally ridiculous to thank god for weight loss as it is to hate him for weight gain. If you don't exercise and eat a healthy diet, you'll gain, simple as that. If believing in a supernatural boogeyman is a crutch that you find useful, fine, but don't act like it makes it true.

    December 31, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  11. Ginger

    What can be better than practical Biblical application to one of life's toughest of issues. One that produces change in an area we all face in different ways.

    I applaud Lysa in her humble effort to reach out and share her story to help others.

    December 31, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  12. tallulah13

    When I initially read the article, I didn't read the note about the author. This "article" is simply advertising for this woman's products. This isn't an opinion piece, it's an endorsement. If they hadn't linked it to a website or mentioned a book, this would pass as opinion, but in my opinion it crosses the line. CNN should have marked this as an ad and charged the appropriate rates.

    Sadly, this just looks like another cynical attempt to make money by infusing common sense with religion and calling it revelation.

    December 31, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  13. C'mon no advice is free....

    Yes, it would be nice if this was offered for free. But then you must be ignoring the fact that most organized religion is a money making machine that uses faith and guilt as a way to control thoughts, actions and money.

    I believe in having faith but the only way to lose weight is by having faith in yourself and the strength and respect for yourself – not some outside factor – to hold be accountable for the goals you have set for your well-being.

    December 31, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
  14. jk8369

    This is like the kid in the projects hating Santa Clause because he was a good kid but got nothing for Christmas while he sees the little Paris Hiltons of the world having a $100,000+ Christmas.

    December 31, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      To Paris Hilton, a $100,000 Christmas IS a lousy Christmas.

      December 31, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  15. JohnQuest

    Tamara, so you think animals worship God, can read text and understand what God wants from them. Maybe God made animals in his own image, and God really is a dolphin.

    December 31, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  16. JohnQuest

    Rebecca, The comments made no sense because you didn't understand the arguments or because you didn't want to understand the arguments?

    December 31, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Do you want to know because you are curious or just trying to be rude? I really can't tell. The answer is a little bit of both. Intillect, science and rudeness really don't impress me much. The truth is that I am shocked and saddened by all the non-believers. Their comments are so angry and rude. I wonder how happy these people really are. Is the whole idea trying to win an argument? I really don't get it, I guess I am pretty naive about how the secular world sees things nor do I want to. I am happy here on my farm with a hope for the future.

      December 31, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
  17. Rebecca

    I am a regular mamma of four who loves Jesus. I really enjoy reading Lysa's blogs and books. She talks in a way that I can understand and relate to.I am not ashamed to say that most of what the negative commenters said made no sense to me. And I thank God for that!

    December 31, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • Zamiel Crow

      Yeah... That just about sums up religion in a nutshell.

      "I don't understand anything, so I'll just talk to my make-believe friend."

      Sigh.

      January 1, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  18. Treadmill

    Unless your reading this book on the treadmill I don't see how this is going to help you. I honestly think if you detach the notion of God watching over us, or "carrying" our burdens you can become more active and live your life now. I don't understand that term, carrying our burdens. I'm pretty sure I carried them so enough of the religious propaganda. While we're at it we should pray to God every day that he gets us out of this horrible financial crisis. Ask him to bust out a calculator and solve this mess. Free will is just an excuse people make to why we are alone as an intellectual being. If you don't believe in a Christian God then it makes it a lot harder to stay up and night and pray to lose weight, you realize you have to take matters into your own hands and live your life. Stop making excuses people America is fat enough!

    December 31, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
    • DeAguaDulce

      You obviously skimmed the article. She talks very plainly about how her blaming of God was her excuse.

      As to the financial crisis, perhaps God is more concened with how greedy Americans are. Perhaps if he fixed the situation for us right now, we would just go back to being greedy twits who devour everything in sight. Perhaps, it's better that we learn a hard lesson so that we can escape the snare of greed.

      January 1, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  19. Mick

    You needed to lose weight, so you turned to the Bible? Honey, you need to back away from the dinner table, not seek wisdom in a book that contains a talking donkey.

    December 31, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • NL

      Mick-
      "Honey, you need to back away from the dinner table, not seek wisdom in a book that contains a talking donkey."

      Wait a year or two and the Shrek franchise will probably have diet books or videos featuring a talking donkey that might actually be inspiring. 😉

      December 31, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  20. G-Dubya

    Nom Nom Nom Nom "Why have you forsaken me?" Nom Nom Nom Nom

    December 31, 2010 at 12:36 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.