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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. Sherry

    way to go and show how we need God for every thing we do! God is real and he loves every one even unbelievers!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:39 am |
    • Silver Chair

      Amen, Sherry. Well said.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  2. Renee

    Yes, bush this is the same God. He does allow these things but He does not cause them. We battle a real enemy everyday. His name is Satan. He is the cause of these things. You are also right in saying that the existence of God makes no logical sense that is why we believe in FAITH. He gave you a measure of it and He is waiting for you to accept Him. He loves you more than you can imagine. Please consider giving Him a chance. I pray that you do. As for Lysa's article I stand with her 100% and I am so grateful that she had this opportunity to share it.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:39 am |
    • Allie

      Well said Renee.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:35 am |
    • Bill

      Wait...wait...wait. Did you actually just blame satan for making people fat? Oh, that's just precious.

      If I sprinkle my twinkies with holy water will I stay thin?

      You religiots amaze me.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      If satan causes fat people, then given how many fat people there are in th US, it looks like satan is winning in the US. Time for god to step up...

      December 30, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • DeAguaDulce

      @Bill & HotAirAce: Renee is in no way blaming Satan for obesity in America. Way to twist people's words. She is alluding to the biblical teaching that many of our struggles are spiritual at their root - which, BTW, is the point of the article.

      January 1, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • HotAirAce

      @DeAguaDulce

      I think you need to read for comprehension, but do recognize that this "thread" is fractured. If you go back and read what Renee responded to, there is a list of things that god allows but does not cause but are the work of satan. While obesity is not explicity mentioned, it is reasonable to include it. Renee's basic point, as I understand it, is that all bad things are the work of satan and all good is from god. Of course, there are no god's, so she is wrong.

      January 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  3. Sherry

    Way to go and show every one we need GOD in all we do! God is real and he loves everyone, even unbelievers.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:35 am |
    • IntegralReality

      Or you could just put the fork down, learn portion control, and get more exercise... but hey, why do hard work when you could just blame it on your imaginary friend?

      December 30, 2010 at 10:14 am |
    • CJ

      Exactly, thats the American way right, blame someone else for what is clearly your problem...

      December 30, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  4. El Guapo

    Nope...Buddah, Allah, Zeus, thor.....all fairy tales. And we would call her out on them as well.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:34 am |
    • Marie

      each to their own fella ......

      December 30, 2010 at 9:42 am |
    • Brandon

      But that is just being obnoxious, like a preacher who goes to an atheist convention and starts shouting that there is a God, or passing out flyers nobody there is interested in. There is a right place for such discussions, but leaving unenlightening comments on articles that you do not like is just childish!

      I thank God that He is helping me to see the foolishness of humanity, so that I will never be prideful, as I am a mere man, like you. You are an instrument of God right now, showing us all a mirror of how heartless and ignorant mankind truly is, where each of us can see a part of ourselves reflected in your sinfulness. May we all repent while there is still time.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:55 am |
    • El Guapo

      How ironic. Heartlessness and ignorance (especially ignorance) seem to be the cornerstone of christian life in America. Please.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:06 am |
    • AchievementGap

      It's the cornerstone of your life also...so where is the difference?

      December 30, 2010 at 10:59 am |
    • Guapo.

      @AchievementGap

      Actually Im a very thoughtful and decent human being who also holds 2 master and a PHD. What other worthless, incorrect and baseless statements you got for me?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  5. Lynelle

    It is amazing in a world that teaches and upholds "tolerance", there are so many who are intolerant of a person expressing their beliefs about God. I wonder if she credited Allah, Buddah or the godwithin herself that capnmike and the others would accept her message or her article as credible? Lysa, thank you for article and being open to the criticism that comes with it.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  6. LLS

    I had doubts about whether or not Made to Crave was for me- but I relate to all that you have said in this article. Now I can't buy the book and do the study fast enough. Through your words God has given me hope!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:31 am |
  7. Thegoodman

    If God is omniscient and omnipotent, why are people fat and miserable?
    Wouldn't an omniscient god care that his worshipers are miserable?
    Wouldn't an omnipotent god do something about it?

    If god is omnipotent but not omniscient, is such a being worth of our praise?
    If god is omniscient but not omnipotent, is he even a god at all?

    Its more likely that there is no god at all. Humanity has believed in ~2870 'gods' since the beginning of recorded history. If you believe in just 1, then you don't believe in 2869. Why not make it 2870 and take some responsibility for what happens to your life.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:31 am |
    • Brandon

      If a website, forum, or article is clearly designed as a "for believers by a believer" service, commenting against belief will have no impact at all. The mindset of those reading is not one of question, but of seeking advice from other like-minded folks. This is obvious.

      Because it is obvious, we can all assume that deep down, you know it too.

      Because you know this, but voice your disapproval anyway, you must be acting out of irrational motives, such as insecurity, or anger, or some other form of intolerance.

      Kinda ironic. Atheists are intolerant of believers these days, and believers mostly just want to be left alone. You are changing nothing, but fanning the flames of conflict.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:46 am |
    • Jesus Girl 7

      Pick up the Bible and read it-you will find the answers to all your questions!

      December 30, 2010 at 10:11 am |
    • CJ

      Nah its like teaching science to second graders... some of us just like the chalange. then there are the laughs we get reading how ignorant the believers are. Me personally it makes my day to point out the inaaccuracy and inadaquacy of the bible (having read it cover to cover) to simple minded "believers" who clearly havent ever read it themselves and only know what their preacher has chosen to tell them.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • Thegoodman

      "Atheists are intolerant of believers these days, and believers mostly just want to be left alone. You are changing nothing, but fanning the flames of conflict."

      Your religion is as warped as your perspective. Atheists are the victims of hate crimes and discrimination every day. Meanwhile, Christians are getting their prayers said in courthouses and schools, and their theology taught in science classes.

      This country was not founded on Christianity, but is has nearly been taken over by it.

      December 30, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  8. Stacy

    Thank you Lysa! I appreciate the honesty, insight, and truth that you speak! That will be my New Years resolution...to draw near to God for comfort, and not food!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:31 am |
  9. LBCSongbird

    Praise God that He was able to guide you through the renewing of your mind! Spending time with the Master is such a blessing.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:31 am |
  10. Sandi

    Thanks Lysa, you are in inspiration for me to get back on track, not only with my weight control but with my walk with the Lord.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  11. Amy

    Thanks for the challenge to crave God and not food. I too have found myself praying that God would act on my weight struggles when I was too lazy myself to exercize any self discipline. God bless you as you speak out to the masses to let them know that God is real and will show Himself in every aspect of our lives if we invite Him there.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  12. CountryGirl

    Thank you!! Great article Lysa as always! Some really good insights and I can't wait to read your book. Have struggled with my weight all my life, losing, gaining. Hopeful that this will be my breakthrough year for with God, Nothing shall be impossible!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  13. Fat Girl

    I'm fat and its God's fault. I blame fairy tales for my obeisity. I also blame Al Gore because my shoe laces broke.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:27 am |
    • Brandon

      You did not read the article, which was about the emotional causes of behavioral disorders, and how willpower alone is not enough to overcome an emotionally based problem. Even if you don't believe in God, or have weight issues, you could gain a lot by going back and reading this article. It might help you with the insecurity you clearly struggle with.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  14. Katie Beth

    Lysa – This article was amazing! I follow your blog daily and you are such an encouragement to all of us "Jesus girls". I'm not necessarily struggling with weight, but I believe every woman has areas in her life that need a little improvement. I think anyone could relate to this article. Thanks so much for sharing your story!! (Thank you CNN for letting this amazing woman share the Truth here!)

    December 30, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  15. Cindy

    Wow Lysa! I can't wait to read your book...but more importantly become closer to my Saviour in the process of losing those extra lbs.! Thank you for your words of enouragement! God Bless! 🙂

    December 30, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  16. All Girl

    I am a big girl too and had to learn to accept being me! I didn’t choose to be this way, genetics, childbirth, depression (from those who have died close to me) all are contributors. I have lost a lot of weight and put back on more then I lost. While certain people can be judgmental, because I don’t fit into the norm as the skinny world. With 1/3 of Americans being overweight. I was glad to find that there are things out there that can help me, Yes God gives e the strength to keep going forward, and there are great books and videos on healthy living. Heck there is even Pambra’s bra and tummy liner out there that make me comfortable during my day. So I know I am not alone in my plight. Article was great Thank You

    December 30, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  17. Gabbie

    Lysa you are an inspiration. I cannot wait to read your book and start learning how to replace my ridiculous cravings for food with an all consuming craving for God. I know He is working through you. Thank you thank you thank you God for allowing Lysa to do Your work.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:25 am |
    • Artemis

      Please keep in mind you could go to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting and get all the same information, plus many people successfully accomplishing their goals, and for free.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  18. Missy Carlson

    Lysa's story illustrates how God cares about ALL of our issues because He cares about His kids. He can get into the details of life that might seem small compared to world hunger, strife and war. He's big enough to be in all places at once. I'm so deeply thankful that He cares about all of our issues: big and small. To doctore0: God may be trying to move you to get personally involved in the issue of hunger. Pray and see where He leads you! So exciting!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  19. Regina

    Interesting how some people on here can be cynical of such a positive message, one of hope that may help people who experience (in many cases life long) weight issues....and we wonder why there is a bullying issue in America.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:23 am |
    • Jaclyn

      Thank you so much! This is bullying at it's best (for both sides!). Why put someone down for their beliefs? If you don't believe in God, then move on. Also the Christians on here shouldn't be putting others down for their belief's (whether they believe or not) either. That is what gives Christians a bad rep. Pray for those who do not believe but there is no reason to put others down. We are all adults and should act as adults.

      Thank you Lysa for your wonderful post. I will be joining you for this webcast. Can't wait to hear what you have to say.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  20. jessie

    I know what its like to struggle with your weight as well.my problem at first was way low selfesteem,but after being assaulted physically&going through a mentally&verbaly abusive"relationship",things just went way downhill from there.i struggled with hating myself for what happened&hating God,questioning why it happened to me.now im more selfconfident,but when drs tell me I really should lose weight,i feel terrified=(.i dont know where my journeys going but I need healing before I can ever go down that road.thanks for sharing lysa<3

    December 30, 2010 at 9:23 am |
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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.