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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. Tony Isaac

    Why does everyone here argue. To each his own. I'll do my thing, and you do yours. Each of us should choose our own path. Follow your conscience and do what you think is right. Some may disagree, but just turn the other cheek. I am taking no sides in this petty argument.

    January 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  2. Reality

    "John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today

    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed." J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    January 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  3. Veronica13

    Wonderful, enlightening...any person with an addiction can learn from this. God bless you.

    January 2, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  4. Colleen

    For too long, we have looked to God to solve so many abuse issues. We know that drug addicts and alcoholics need God not drugs and booze. But Christian women, and I am one of them, with weight issues don't want to admit that they worship food. The only real answer for many of us is getting closer to God. I am so glad this is being handled with truth. Thank you.

    January 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  5. mimi

    All these people are bashing the God talk (or getting really passionate in defense of it). I'm pretty much agnostic,but I understand what she's saying as meaning that we sometimes use food to fill a hole when we are lacking spirituality or meaning. So it's important to figure out what we are really hungry for. Eating actual food will never soothe a craving for meaning or purpose. There's another book out there with a similar message but not so religious.

    January 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  6. rnmommy73

    Lysa, thanks for sharing your story. God's not dead he is alive! He is there to help us in our time of need. The empty place inside that many try to fill with things of this world is actualy the lacking in our relationship with God, unfortunately not all will realize that. I am excited to get your book. As for those that do not understand remember: 2 Peter 3:3

    January 2, 2011 at 5:44 am |
  7. Sevenveils

    What does religion have to do with food? What does this article have to do with food? – NOTHING!
    This article is about an admitted fat woman who has no self control of her own and must pray to a deity for and miraculously receive divine intervention from unhealthy eating habits.
    This article would better serve like minded people and placed in the religion section.

    January 2, 2011 at 4:42 am |
  8. Logically Speaking

    Logically speaking, lets put away our rationalizations and look at the issue logically.
    Ladies, there is no reason for you obesity. NONE. Not genetics, not post-pregnancy. You are simply disgusting in every way, and only serve to consume an excess of resources which could be put towards others who need it.
    Reason for obesity: laziness
    Solution to obesity: EAT LESS, WORK OUT
    Try skipping a meal a couple times a week to feed a starving country.
    Men find you disgusting for a reason, and you wonder we we leave our fat wives for European beauties.
    If you want some "mamby-pamby" god loves me crap, then continue to use this as a rationalization to make you feel better about yourselves. But if you want to keep a man, LOSE WEIGHT. Only in America do we have this problem-
    Your simply disgusting.

    January 2, 2011 at 3:15 am |
  9. tnblu

    Good article, but lacking with no end result or remedy. I don't have the time to go through all the posts, so not sure if it's been brought up, but you have what's called an 'addiction'...an addiction to eating..to overeating...to snacking and grazing and it leads to binge eating and more weight. It's like 'food is your drug'. I know, because I have the addiction too. Only through a 12 step program, where my higher power takes over my life can I live free of this addiction. Who or what your higher power is is your busines, but they all seem to work. And, I have lived free of this addiction for several years. The excess weight was only the result of this addiction. My higher power didn't make me skinny. But, he (she, it) took away the uncontrollable urge to overeat and to eat more than my body needs. As a result, I have let go of many many unwanted and unneeded pounds and I live my life. I just have to live it according to my higher power's rules, but then it's the best way anyway and now I don't spend most of my time wrestling with cravings and being dissapointed in myself. And, I never gain over the holidays. (Matter of fact I actually lost 2lbs in December).

    January 2, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  10. JesusGot360NoScoped

    I'm hungry. Why can't jesus send down some Big Macs?

    January 1, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  11. JesusGot360NoScoped

    I'm hungry. Why can't jesus send down some Big Macs? Oh wait... He's not real.

    January 1, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  12. LeeBird

    Thank you, Lysa! I'm proud to call you my sister-in-Christ!

    And thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving Lysa this opportunity to share truth with a wider audience! Arguing with nay-sayers is futile, so I'll just ask You to handle it. Open their hearts to truly know who You are and to allow You to meet their deepest heart needs they probably won't admit having. In the name of Jesus I pray, AMEN

    January 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Sevenveils

      Dear Jesus, thanks for all the fish.

      January 2, 2011 at 4:43 am |
  13. Logic

    There's the same logic in every person KeithTexas, just ask youself.

    Why are you here also? You and likely everyone religious member clamber to every bit of news where 'god' is, because you gravitate to 'need'. Tell me is your need for regular doses of god juice /spiritual news not a dependence?

    The question is why do you need to traverse to every bit of inspiration? Your faith seems to fade every day doesn't it, so you need a kick to revitalize your belief system. A total nut on religious dependence. Atheists troll at will as you do and we just see silly stuff by silly people professing this ridiculous system. It's funny.

    January 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  14. Debi

    Lisa, I am so excited aobut starting your book. You have answered a call God has given you to help a whole lof of us struggling women!! Thank you so much

    January 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  15. KeithTexas

    I don't know why you atheist waste your time here. There are only a couple of reasons you would be here. You are one of those people that like to argue with and demean others so that you can feel powerful, or you are spiritually bankrupt in your life and you are hoping that you will find some spark of belief or faith that you could grab hold of to sustain your miserable life. Just in case you want to insult me I should let you know that I do not believe in any church of any kind and I only read "Holy" books for inspiration and I don't believe any of them are the inspired work of god.

    I do appreciate Lysa's story and know how important a spiritual belief can be for serious personal change. As a member of a spiritual organization for personal change I have often found Fundamentalist Christians saying that God isn't interested in your personal problems. When that happens I tell them they need to find a new god. Sometimes they are quite offended by that statement but if my god wasn’t interested in my personal well being I would find another one.

    January 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Derek

      Well said. Based on my observations, I would go with:
      "You are one of those people that like to argue with and demean others so that you can feel powerful"

      It's the internet trolling mentality. Not just for "power", but for juvenile kicks. Some grow out of it, fortunately.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So, believers have failed to shed childish tribal myths and you think atheists are the ones that need to grow up?

      January 3, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Dusty

      @ HotAirAce
      There is a whole world of reference work that shows your position is absolutely unfounded. You would do well to do some research in the area so your comments don't make you look foolish. Try starting with some light reading. Josh McDowell's "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" cites hundreds of works by both secular and religious scholars on the subject. I'm just sayin'...

      January 18, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  16. Free to choose

    We each have the right to choose. Some choose motivation, some choose self will, some choose medication. She chose Jesus as her catalyst to help her change. It is her choice just as you are free to choose not to believe in Jesus. In the end, if she chose wrong the only consequence she will have to face is appearing foolish. But if you chose wrong, since you did not believe in the gift of resurrection, you will have no part in it. We all have the right to choose.

    January 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  17. Rebekah

    Thanks Lysa! Happy New Year! What an awesome article, we sure need more like it! Can't wait to read your book...keep up the good work and God bless you!

    January 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  18. Kendra @ www.abusywomanslife.com

    Thank you Lysa for sharing this. Losing weight is difficult and many people feel like a failure. God knows us...God know our pain...and God is the maker of our body. With His help we can reach our goals.

    January 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  19. PreacherTam

    I didn't have time nor the patience to read all the responses here, sad as they are. I've been following Lysa for over a year now, and if you knew her heart, you would know that there is much more involved than monetary profit. She is a true Jesus girl and the God that she speaks of is THE God the someday every knee will bow down to. Unfortunately for some, it will be too late. Yes, God made each of us and loves all of us but he HATES what this world is doing. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee (coffee beans–His creation). Look around you. You can't miss Him, unless you want to.

    January 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  20. na

    Thank for being honest. Next please share your journey and Scripture that you found along the way.

    January 1, 2011 at 2:36 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.