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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. Thank You

    Thank You, Lysa! =0)

    January 4, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  2. Nick

    1st Great Artical. Its not just about weight gain or loss its about trusting God to help us through our problems. He doesn't like some of you suggest magically take your weight away or always answer our prayers with a yes sometimes it is a NO. To the atheisits you have to remember that in Christian thinking we are given these challenges not only to remember to turn to him for help but, also this is our punishment due to our failures in the Garden by listening to the serpant.
    This is our faith so why should we be ignorant or uneducated to believe this? Has sience proved that the big bang has happend beyond a shadow of a doubt NO. That is why it is stated as a Theory NOT Fact.
    Now you might say all we have is Faith. That is true however ponder this before you tell us we are uneducated. You bealive in the air you breath correct? Have you ever seen it or touched it. No but, because someone has told you it is there you have Faith it is presant. To be more poignant Science can't even explain a thought does that mean it isn't real? So since Science can't explain it does that mean we have to take it on Faith that we each Think for ourselves? Just a Thought. Again Great Artical and God Bless.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  3. Nick

    one last thing don't forget the one of the smartest men to ever live wrote a book called God vs Science in 1921 stating why and how God can exist. This Man......... Albert Einstein......

    January 4, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • NL

      What Einstein actually said was that he believed in Spinoza's god, meaning that the universe itself is god which is to say that the universe is all there is and that nothing exists which is supernatural.

      When people mistook, or outright misrepresented what he meant he explained "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

      January 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • NL

      Word of advice to believers out there: If you took a minute to check or even Google claims like the one above instead of just taking it at face value because it sounds good to you, then you wouldn't have people calling you gullible, or worse, now would you?

      I'm just sayin'

      January 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  4. Tim W.

    Lysa, this is a great article. This article is very encouraging because you display to other that they are not alone in their thinking. You have planted many seeds with this article, and God willl allow that seed to grow and flourish.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  5. God is good!

    I loved your article, Lysa. I too struggled with weight, but in the opposite direction you did. I was anorexic for about a year and struggled with my weight (eating normally, etc.) for roughly 4 years after. I looked to the Lord every time I needed help. I had set backs, but eventually I rid the awful habits. God blessed me with the most awesome husband in the world – I’m able to talk about the past and the issues I still had when we were dating/engaged. We both have improved ourselves so much and we thank Him for bringing us together. God is so good!

    January 4, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  6. Rena

    Lysa, this is awesome!!! You got the attention of many. For a moment, just a moment, I really questioned why so many people actually got angry over this article. But it's simple, really. It's Him you're pointing them to and it's Him they're angry with. Keep on preaching the Word! It brings life!

    January 4, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  7. Mary B.

    Thank you Lysa! Keep Writing for those of us who choose hope and love! We are listening and as you said, if others are reading, who is pointing them to this article? I know, and you know! Thank you!

    January 4, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  8. Leslie Richardson

    Ah, America....land of the 'free to disbelieve". Think what you will, dear athiests...I know from personal experience what faith in Jesus does for your life. I pray that you will discover this for yourself. Thank you, Lysa, for sharing with the world what your faith manifested for you . Is 54:17, girlfriend!

    January 4, 2011 at 6:14 am |
    • NL

      Would you rather be living in Iran?

      January 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  9. Nadia

    Lysa is one of the most inspirational writers and speakers that I know of. God bless her for putting this message out there. I don't understand why anyone feels the need to leave disparaging comments about this article. She is a blessing to those who believe in what she believes.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  10. Joy

    Lysa! Thank you for being determined, devoted and giving of what you poured your heart into. I'm signing up for your webcast. Thank you CNN for sharing this!

    January 3, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  11. Gwenelle

    Thank you, CNN, for publishing this inspiring article. Lysa is a brilliant, honest and thoughtful writer, and I know God will use her book to help hundreds, if not thousands, of women who struggle with their own weight problems. Thanks, Lysa, for sharing your story, and I hope that, rather than discourage you, all the negative comments will just strengthen your message. It sounds a bit cliché, but your book must be having a big impact and glorifying God if Satan is going to so much trouble to fight it. I pray God will bless you, Lysa, and use your book in mighty ways.

    Also, to all the naysayers out there, I want to reiterate what DeAguaDulce said – Lysa isn't crediting God with her weight loss; she's praising God for His help, His strength, and His love that enables her to change her ways. She's saying that God has shown her how HE can and will fulfill her cravings better than the most delicious meal or the sweetest desserts.

    And I'm asking God to teach me that same lesson as I start reading "Made to Crave" and following along with Lysa's upcoming webcasts. Thanks again, Lysa.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  12. Diana

    @Robert - Yes, praise the Lord! Be courteous and full of grace. Hebrews 12:14-15a, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

    January 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  13. Robert

    @dave

    YOU WILL BURN

    January 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Billy

      Who are you to judge?

      January 6, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  14. dave

    What nonsense. God didn't do this, YOU did this. Quit giving away the credit. It was a change of mindset, is all.

    January 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  15. Robert

    For those who are claiming that this woman did it on her own without God's help....

    Praise the good Lord for helping this woman. Instead of discrediting Him.

    January 3, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  16. Dave

    Open and honest discussion on faith or the lack of it is always a helpful and healthy subject. I feel as a Christian that decision about faith are the most important that anyone can make. It is wonderful to have debate and frank talk about this central subject to all of our lives. I do have strong feeling about the defense of the faith and honestly believe that there are very good reasons for my belief. I share them with friends and people I meet when I can have an actual conversation. Name calling and "yelling" over the internet does no one any good. It isn't consistent with the example or teachings of Jesus to belittle those that don't agree. Jesus did not have any harsh words for people that ridiculed him, or beat him, or spit on him, or even killed him. His harsh words were for the religious establishment. So anyone that has to "defend" God by hating others is totally incorrect. That is what has led to many wars, not the teachings of Jesus. Please don't forget my fellow believers that Jesus loves even those that don't believe. It is not surprising that many think Christianity foolish. Paul said that the world would find belief in Jesus foolish. It is not a new development. As for myself someone saying they don't believe in God is no problem for me. It makes me sad for them and I will pray that they find the truth that Jesus died for them and loves them tremendously. But lack of belief by others doesn't hurt my own faith. Saying that God isn't real is like saying my wife or parents aren't. It is absurd. No amount of slander or argument will change the fact of my relationship with God. It is a certainty. Any Christian that has a relationship with Jesus and wants to defend the faith should do so to people face to face in a loving way and not hurling insults over the internet. Please be wise and understand when you are actually helping and when you are making Jesus look weak and like just an "idea" that has to be defended. He is the Risen Christ, and HE is greater than any unbelief by part of His creation.

    January 3, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Holly

      wonderfully, wisely said Dave : )

      January 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  17. Holly

    Religion involves doing things to get to heaven, but bible-based Christianity is about God reaching down to us with a relationship, not us reaching towards God with good works, rituals, and obligations

    January 3, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • NL

      Holly-
      Sorry, but if it involves God and worship then it's still religion, and are you really saying that you have no rituals or obligations attached in your 'relationship' with God? No prayer or duty to live according to the Bible?

      January 4, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  18. Beth Arredondo

    Wonderful, sensible advice! I love hearing from a Christian perspective.

    January 3, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  19. Robert

    i forgot to capitalize His name. God is He

    January 3, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  20. john

    God and Jesus are love. the only thing in life that matters is love. love and treat everyone and everything with respect. this is the truth. this is real. Jesus just wants us to love each other. not fight about things or try to see who is right or who is wrong. it does not matter all he wanted was for us to love each other and know that is the truth about life. i agree life is hard and why things happen do not make sense. we just need to be as compassionate and loving as we can be to each other and thats it. nothing more nothing less. when you do this you will know the truth and your proof will be something you can feel. we should never judge or hate anyone. if you disagree (atheist) or disapprove (believer) in anyone do not fight about it. just love the other person. i have faith in God and Jesus but i do not agree when religious peoplewho condemm or judge people. love everyone for the only reason that it is the right thing to do. anger,jealously,hate and feeling sorry for yourself is not right. just love, laugh and try each day not to make someone feel bad or correct them. just live each day loving and respecting everyone and everything. life can suck at times and make you feel like crap but just keep trying to to the right thing and you will make a difference. i know it sounds corny but i do wish happiness to everyone and try to see the good in all of us.

    January 3, 2011 at 10:47 am |
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About this blog

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.