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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. Robert

    @JohnathanL

    Allah is not the same God as The God of the Holy Bible who is Father to Jesus Christ. God of Christ does not reward acts of terrrorism with virgins. get facts before posting plz.

    God helped me in the past I think he helped this weight losing woman too.

    January 3, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Muslims claim that their god and the christian god are one and the same. Their claims are as valid or credible as christian claims. Many (if not all?) religious scholars agree that christianity, islam and judaism all share the same god. Too bad believers can't fully agree on one set of myths.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • NL

      Robert-
      To Orthodox Jews who do not believe in the divinity of Jesus then the Christian God is not the same, correct? Since they originated the worship of this deity and the writers of the Old Testament then they are the rightful authority of what is the correct belief. What right have you to tell them that they are worshipping the 'wrong' god?

      January 5, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  2. Kim

    What if it IS true?

    January 3, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • NL

      Then people like me get tortured for eternity for failing to accept something based on blind trust, because God chose not to send us a sign that would have 'opened our eyes' like you folks. I would call that the unjust punishment of a tyrant, and I would gladly serve it than adopt bigoted atti.tudes towards groups like gays, ignore scientific truth and kowtow to said tyrant just to save my butt. I may burn, but I will do it with a clear conscience and with my dignity intact.

      Question for you: Do you believe that God loves your First Amendment rights, and that you will be free to continue excercising them in heaven?

      January 5, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  3. Holly

    Awesome article Lysa, thanks for having the courage to share this not only on your blog, but nationally. I know you won't be shaken by comments but encouraged by the good : )

    CNN: Thanks for running something substantially and not another fad diet, new years resolution piece that can't truly transform lives. Atheism has never transformed a life for the better, a broken heart for the better; bible-based Christianity (not religion), however, transforms lives daily

    January 3, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Oh Puh-leez! As if Christianity is the only way anyone ever obtains happiness. From what I've seen it is way down on the list and definitely well behind several other spiritual options. I've met more messed up Christians than not.
      I would be real interested in your source of data about the how people have fared in their lives based on their particular faith or lack thereof.
      Is it perhaps the same source as your faith, which is whatever makes you feel superior?

      January 3, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • NL

      Holly-
      "Atheism has never transformed a life for the better, a broken heart for the better; bible-based Christianity (not religion), however, transforms lives daily."

      Atheism certainly has transformed my life for the better. I no longer judge people according to Bronze Age criteria that could not account for natural differences people were born with. My morality is no longer inflexible, and can adapt to changing situations. I no longer lose sleep trying to make sense of a universe that includes a God, or fool myself into believing that it does. As an atheist I see the world as it really is, and not as a wishful fantasy.

      Of course there are some people out there who have managed to turn their lives around for the better through religion just as others have through sport, charity, music, education or some other activity, but not everyone needs to believe in God to prevent them from raping, pillaging and killing their way through society. If you believe that you do then what does that say about you as a person? Besides, plenty of folks who claim to know for sure that God sends murderers to hell still seem to have little difficulty killing people, or harming them in some other way. So you really can't argue that belief in God actually doesn't make everyone a better person, or guarantee a better society, right?

      I have a simple question that none of the Christians who claim it seem to be able to answer here: How is "bible-based Christianity" not a religion? You all seem to come up with pretty much exactly the same standardized set of basic beliefs, including beliefs in the supernatural? So, isn't claiming that this all just happens to result from everyone's personal relationship with God like saying that everyone coming to the same conclusion that 2 + 2 = 4 can, in no way, be called mathematics?

      January 3, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  4. Nicole

    Awesome article. I want to start this journey with you. I will be following your blog. God is Great

    January 3, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  5. Beth

    Thanks, Lysa. I'm ready to read your new book, Made to Crave, and finally do this the right way.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  6. JCizzle

    Religion is a crutch for the weak.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:46 am |
  7. Sophia

    @animanlrules....and how do you know animals do not believe in God....are you one?? Atheists go on and on about how Christians judge...Lets check the number of atheists in the Forum who have signed in just to judge us... you do not believe...fine....Why not let us believe. Hats Off to Christians for ignoring this lot. I am not such a good christian and it just makes me angry.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • NL

      Sophia-
      "Lets check the number of atheists in the Forum who have signed in just to judge us... you do not believe...fine....Why not let us believe."

      Some of us don't specifically judge you for believing in what you do. You were raised to believe in God and a divine Jesus by parents and an extended faith community that sheltered you from most, if not all, alternate views of the world. It's no wonder that you find our atheist criticism of your beliefs difficult to take in all at once. Many of us were once believers like you and actually know where you are coming from. Sometimes it takes a long time, and a whole lot of honest evaluation, to realize that your faith is built upon a foundation less stable than sand.

      Even now, Christian theology has evolved to defend itself from atheistic criticism by teaching a straw man version of us. One that states that atheists actually do believe in God like everyone else, which is nice for you to believe, but not at all true. That we actually hate God, which again implies that we believe in him first, which again is not at all the case. Some of us hate what believers do in the name of a God who cannot be proven to exist, but that's not hating the idea, only the implementation of that idea.

      And now you accuse us of judging you, something you believe only your god has a right to do, right? Again, this is what you believe, not us. We reserve the right to criticize any belief, just as you reserve the right it seems to judge us and our beliefs. Fair enough. Let both stand to open judgment and let's see which shines through as the more likely truth, eh?

      January 3, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  8. Jill

    It is so easy to excuse overeating and obsession with food because everyone eats. However, I've come to realize that there is really no difference between me and the drug addict or the alcoholic. We are all trying to numb our emotions with something that won't satisify. Mine just happens not to impair me so much that I can't keep a job or care for my family. I know that Jesus is the only one who can satisfy my deep emotional needs. I'm excited to read about the how to make that a reality.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  9. NL

    I know a few women who managed to control their weight by becoming chain smokers, and I don't see this as potentially being any different. In reality, this program isn't designed to cure obsessive behavior, just redirect it towards something that is arguably just as unhealthy.

    January 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  10. Billy

    It is your fault you were fat, it is your fault you got healthy. Praying does not help anyone. The suprbowl champs will thank God for winning... what about the losers? Sucks for whatever team is going against Gods favorite. Look at all these hypocrite bible thumpers... you will laugh at people burning in eternal hell? You will be burning along side them when he finds out you did not help them to heaven. =P

    January 2, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  11. Kim

    I am a Jesus Girl, too! Thank you so much for this awesome article! You are such a blessing! I am ordering the bundle!

    January 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • NL

      Kim-
      "You are such a blessing! I am ordering the bundle!"

      Can I hear a Ka-Ching...Ah, I mean AMEN!

      January 2, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  12. Bemis30

    If you pray to jesus he will reward you is so many ways. The atheists are just jealous because they don't have the love of jesus in their pathetic little lives. Can't wait to see the look on their faces when jesus condems them to eternal hell. I will be laughing my ass off while kicking back on that pink warm sandy beach that jesus has in store form me in heaven. I ain"t perfect but I am saved and jesus loves me!

    January 2, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • NL

      I find it extremely difficult to see how followers of the humble, meek Jesus of the gospels can be so sadistic. If this is the 'Love of Jesus' you are gloating over I'm happy, and a better person as well, not to have anything to do with it.

      January 2, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Ever notice how Christians think that God behaves like a bad-mannered teenage girl? "Obey me or I'm gonna make you suffer forever! Worship me ! ! ! WORSHIP ME ! ! !"

      I notice that a lot of Christians also love the idea that people they don't like are going to hell, like God is their own personal hit man, and they get to be pervs and watch when it happens.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  13. Andrea

    Great article!! Thank you Lysa!! God is good, ALL THE TIME!!

    January 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  14. Jeff

    I just spent the last of my money purchasing a lepricon.

    January 2, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  15. jcworshipper

    Great article Lysa. Thank you for sharing your faith and giving God all the glory for your success – in all of your life, not just with your weight.

    January 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  16. Nitrogen

    God helps those who help themselves. This general rule always applies because god doesn't actually help anyone. And of course, god doesn't help anyone because he doesn't exist. I would say good for this ex fat woman for choosing the lesser of two evils, but I'm pretty sure religion of any kind is ultimately more destructive to society than mass obesity (no pun intended). So thank you for losing weight, good for you. But you did it, not god. Now, go find a nice college science course and educate yourself.

    January 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  17. Margaret

    Maybe allah deserves the credit? Why do you automatically give credit to god? Maybe buddha should get some credit too? Maybe the flying spaghetti monster should get credit? Idiots.

    January 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Smk

      It was definitely the touch of the noodly appendage

      January 2, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  18. Lenny

    So sad to see that people still babble this garbage. Empty minds, fat stomachs.

    January 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  19. Melinda M

    Lysa, God bless you! Thank you for sharing your heart. I look forward to reading your book 🙂

    January 2, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  20. Tammy

    Thank you, Lisa for your article! We serve an AWESOME and ALMIGHTY God and he is the only One that can truly free us.

    January 2, 2011 at 3:43 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.