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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. KC

    What an inspiring story. This has truly hit a nerve with me. I am changing my diet plans to include a daily Bible reading.

    January 11, 2011 at 9:22 am |
  2. carla harris

    This is amazing! Such hatred spewed out for a point of view that only was meant to encourage and marvel at the wonder of a loving God. If it touched a cord and caused such a strong knee-jerk reaction, maybe it sheds more Light than one is willing to admit.

    January 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • NL

      Ask yourself, do Republicans hate Democrats, or do they just disagree with them on political issues? Seriously, isn't it possible to disagree with someone without actually hating them for holding a different opinion? I think it is.

      January 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  3. Matt

    Believers, I urge you, if you aren't all ready, handle these negative comments with prayer, be as Christ-like as you can be when responding. God loves everyone and He sent His one and only Son to save everyone. Jesus loves you. God Bless

    January 9, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • NL

      I don't know what Christ would do, but Jesus met questions and criticisms with well-articulated answers that were oftentimes somewhat logical within the context of the religious discussion. He didn't just complain that people disagreed with him and offer a prayer in the hopes that they be converted. No, he wasn't afraid of engaging his critics. Christians really could learn from his example.

      January 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  4. Darin

    Sounds like a lot of people needs to get "SAVED". Knowing God can really help all of you and, knowing Jesus is really awsome! Oh.. and having the " HOLY SPIRIT" is really breath taken..

    January 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      There are no gods, not even just one. JC died and is never coming back. Shedding all that man made religious baggage is way better than taking on more. Have a nice day.

      January 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • NL

      "the " HOLY SPIRIT" is really breath taken."

      Well, hallucinations and delusions can arise from hypoxia. I hear it's all the rage with adventure-seeking youth looking for a cheap high. Pretty harmful and often deadly. Yet another poor religious analogy, I'm afraid.

      January 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  5. Valerie

    What a great article Lysa! I just finished the book, and have been so blessed and encouraged by it. I believe that God cares so deeply for us, and wants us to be able to have a life full of joy rather than a life of feeling like we're chained by the pull of food and eating! There is so much more to life!!! and while we all need to eat! It really shouldnt be the primary focus of our lives! God bless you for writing this book, it is truely a God send!!!

    January 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  6. Will Luckeydoo

    Wow there are a lot of people that have commented on here that are looking for something. I pray that you open your hearts to God and allow Him to work in your lives as He has and continues to do in the lives of many of the people who have commented on here. I heard Lysa on Klove the other day talking about this blog and the negative comments and I completely agree with what she said "That what Satan meant for Evil God meant for good"

    January 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • NL

      "That what Satan meant for Evil God meant for good"

      That sounds rather judgmental. Did she happen to mention which side she was on?

      January 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  7. FFG

    Thanks Lysa! What an honor it is to be criticized! The day we stop making others upset is the day we stop doing God's work. Jesus is controversial so keep stirrin' it up, sister!

    January 7, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  8. Oli

    I like this gal. She's funny and a straight-shooter by calling herself and other christians onthe carpet about choosing to overeat, which God calls gluttony (hmmmm a sin). Most of us need some internal motivation in this area whether of faith or not. And, who's saying that non-christians have a corner on the market of healthy eating, being fit, and sharing their excess with starving children.

    January 7, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  9. Jesus Fan

    Thanks Lysa for your wonderful article. God Bless you and your family! WOW, there are some VERY sad, unhappy, angry non-believers in this world. You are allowed to express your disgust to Lysa for her belief but you are saying Christians should be quiet? I don't get you, yet God still loves you! I don't understand why you even read the article if you just wanted to express your hate. It is very funny to me, that the non-believers can't even capitalize the name of God, I guess that makes them give up too much power in this world! 🙂 I hope and pray you all kneel at the feet of Jesus one day and come to truly know him and his healing power. I hope your hearts are healed. God bless you all! And Lysa, thanks again for your book and your faith!

    January 7, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • NL

      "but you are saying Christians should be quiet?"

      No, quite the opposite actually! I think the taboo placed over all religious discussion is keeping Christians from voicing their own concerns. Many may have some questions for the author about her process, but are too afraid to ask because of the kind of treatment some of you give folks like me.

      Honestly now, is taking every claim of divine intervention at face value truly healthy for a person of faith when there are scam artists out there banking on this trust? Aren't there warnings about false prophets in the Bible? What's so wrong, then, about being a little discriminating in one's choices of who to accept as a good Christian example? I'm not passing judgment that the lady isn't, but what's wrong about asking for clarification, or evidence of her story, before you buy into what she is selling? All I'm saying is that many people seem to just be taking her on her word, and that they really ought to be a little more careful.

      Is that so 'hateful'? If I actually believed the lady was a fraud and truly hated Christians I would remain silent and rejoice in the damage that she would be causing, right? It would be really ironic if all you true believers in her were to be proven wrong and the only person you can all point to who had your best interests in mind was an atheist, now wouldn't it?

      January 7, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  10. Joetta

    I am so encouraged and blessed by this article – thankful that I serve a God who loves me and cares about ALL the details of my life – even food! I have struggled with food for years and have ordered this book and praying that God brings the peace, wisdom and good healthy eating habits that I've desired for so long. Thank you, Lysa, for being used by God!

    January 7, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  11. Anglican

    Thanks Billy for bit of wisdom.

    January 6, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  12. Billy

    I have no credit card debt!!! I had to pray for a long, long time and it all went away... thank you Jesus!!!!

    January 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  13. Anglican

    NL. Look at the name of the blog. I believe. All you do is belittle people for their personal beliefs. I visit this site to read and learn, you just slander and belittle. You have no faith, you do not believe in God, but you visit this blog. I think you might want to believe, but that would not be "cool"

    January 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • NL

      And haven't I been posting comments about what 'I believe'?

      If you are a Christian then part of what you believe is a direct criticism and denial of what I believe, so why is it somehow wrong to voice my opinions to the contrary? Besides, a goodly percentage of the stories here reference atheism directly. Are those stories purely for the enlightenment of believers like you?

      January 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  14. Anglican

    NL- I am still so interested in why so many atheist waste their time on a belief blog. Please NL, insight.

    January 6, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • NL

      Why do you consider it a 'waste'? I might just as easily ask you the same question, right?

      January 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  15. LC

    I have had a few moment s to read through some of these posts and it seems that all have become so off topic as to what Lysa's post was about - in no way in her article did I feel she was "pushing" or "forcing" any of her beliefs onto the public. We now have post comparing the beliefs of Christians to "witch burning', etc - and the teaching of 'creationism" last I checked was being supported BY couch jumper – Tom Cruise and the whole scientology team.

    I believe the most creative was comparing JESUS to Santa Clause. Though no matter the amount we all banter back and forth and express our feelings on this forum, the majority will stand their ground and stick to what they believe – in my case - GOD is ever so real and in our lives daily - YES even in the lives of you non-believers.

    As you study your evolution, ape theories and such along with the “creation” of man, I don’t doubt for one bit when you hear a story of a man given a deadly prognosis and healed w/o explination with no medicine – what is your belief on that? Just curious – Did Woody Allen lay his hand upon them?

    In ending, this is a public forum but find it crazy that you all take this chance to put down someone for believing GOD was part of their weight-loss, good fortune, healing, etc. just as you choose to believe you were created from berries and nuts or even apes - my point I will not bash on something I do not understand (such as atheism) just as we ask that we as Christians and Believers in Jesus Christ not categorized as “Jesus Freaks” and “Witch Burners”.

    January 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Fair enough...freakyjesuswitchburner.

      January 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • LC

      oooh Snap SeanNJ 😉 You prove my point!

      January 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • NL

      LC-
      "I believe the most creative was comparing JESUS to Santa Clause."
      Actually it takes very little imagination to see the similarity between the two. Much less than the proposed similarities between Jesus and known mythic figures like Osiris and Mithra, which are actually quite easy to see. As easy to see as the evidence supporting evolution. Perhaps you just lack ... insight?

      January 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • LC

      Oh NL -

      I sure wish I did have as much time as you have to as Angilcan pointed out to search out the Belief Blogs and articles and belittle all on here...but I don't, so this will be my last comment - You are quite intriguing I must admit, with your non-beliefs that really lack any education behind knowing what the bible means and the teachings of it - Just as AGAIN, I do not speak what I do not know about Atheist - though it doesn't seem to hard to understand - You don't believe in GOD, simple...Yet, you speak of it as though you have read it -

      Insight - I don't lack insight at all - I know the difference between real and fiction - just due to us not agreeing on this subject does not discredit my ability to know this - Comparing JESUS to Santa was sarcastically said and I admire all the strength that you as an atheist puts into finding and trying to prove that there is NO Jesus -

      I leave this blog in peace knowing where I will be when I pass or when the end of time comes - As I said in my first post...I continue to pray - It is so much easier to open a bible and believe the miracles that happen around us vs. spending all my time studying if he doesn't.

      And next time to you want to prey upon forums that only offer peace and inspiration to others, not matter what the reason - take a moment to pray your Kubala prayer or place a dollar on your Budda and ask that it lead you to a forum where you do not come off as a weak and mean prowler.

      To all of you that have posted positive in favor or Lysa - Bless you and keep your faith high and your hearts focused on the good and do not let these blog stalkers bring distress to you...

      January 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • NL

      LC-
      "It is so much easier to open a bible and believe the miracles that happen around us vs. spending all my time studying if he doesn't."

      Since when is the easy path through life always the best one?

      January 7, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Tammy Grisham

      I DO NOT want to be down played as being originated from apes, that is so self loathing! I am better than that! But, where did the apes come from then?
      I have witches in my family, I love them I would NEVER even think to burn them, but I do not agree with their lifestyle!

      January 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • NL

      Tammy Grisham-
      Hey, what's wrong with apes? Not that they are actually the species that we share in common, a typical Creationist misrepresentation of evolution, but they're pretty noble creatures, aren't they? Much better than the yapping little lapdogs I see good Christians treating like their own children, better sometimes.

      Besides, I thought that our society had 'evolved' beyond judging each other by who sits in our family trees? As you say, you have witches in your family, but that has no reflection on you, right? Five hundred years ago your ancestors may have been all witches, or even Catholics! A thousand years ago they could have been pagans, sacrificing children on stone alters. Ten thousand years ago they may have been wearing furs.

      So what's so insulting about saying that 3 million years ago, which is really a long ways removed, they had their own fur? Seriously, I think that if people got over this disdain they feel over other earthlings our environment, the one that we all share, would be better managed, or don't you Christians believe that God left the world to your care and management?

      I DO NOT want to be down played as being originated from apes, that is so self loathing! I am better than that! But, where did the apes come from then?
      I have witches in my family, I love them I would NEVER even think to burn them, but I do not agree with their lifestyle!

      January 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Tammy Grisham

      NL~ Ok, I'll bite, then IF we are from apes, then who created them? How did the earth come to be?
      I do take my children to Church on Sunday morning and Wed. night. But, their walk is their walk. I do not force them, if they question or chose not to go any other time to church I don't make them! They have to make the choice themselves and I will love them no matter what:~)

      January 8, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • NL

      Tammy Grisham-
      Again, no evolutionist argues that we are of apes. We share an ancestor just as you and some dude in Australia might both be able to trace your families back to some German villager who lived a thousand years ago. Nobody would ever suspect that you both still share that villager's blue eyes or hawkish nose, or even faintly resemble each other. I suggest that you educate yourself on what evolution actually is and claims before criticizing it. All you are doing now is toppling over some straw man version of evolution, right?

      Elvis has recently been in the news and, influential as he was, did he 'create' Rock and Roll out of nothing, or was he a step in it's gradually evolution from earlier forms of music? Sorry Tammy, but not all complex things that appear designed actually where. Landscapes change, art takes on new forms and even God himself has changed in people's perceptions over time. We can saw that he 'evolved' a lot from the white bearded man in the clouds that our ancestors believed him to be.

      January 10, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  16. Kayla Sloan

    NL,
    I’m sorry, “obdurate” was not the best choice of words, what I meant by it was adamant, unyielding, or uncompromising; I apologize, didn’t really mean close-minded. Someone earlier said that most of your religious views depend on where and how you were raised. I can certainly see that, which is why I’ve never encountered atheists before, I’m not even sure how I feel about the term… So this has been a learning experience for me, Thanks. And no, I’m not worried about being “reincarnated”…
    Chelsea,
    I, in NO way, accused anyone of being atheist or Christian because of expressed opinions about the author/book. My point was that IT DOESN’T MATTER what her intents, (OR her church’s) intents are… it’s that the book is helping so many people! I wouldn’t care if you, NL, or anyone else wrote the book; people are inspired and encouraged by it and that’s all that matters. She needs NO credibility or validations from anyone (or her “inspirational” story), nor should she have to show pictures to prove anything or to satisfy anyone. How shameful.
    I know everyone has had bad experiences with churches and Christians, which is what makes witnessing so hard!! People are sinful in nature and you’re not going to find anyone who’s perfect enough to look at and say “That’s what Christians are supposed to be”; People will fail you every time. Gods the only thing that will completely satisfy.

    January 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • NL

      Kayla Sloan-
      No worries! I know that I'm adamant about may position, but that comes from confidence that the evidence is in my favor.

      The point of challenging this author is that anyone can write an inspirational book that could motivate people into losing weight, but she is using her faith as a selling point, to attract customers to her product over others, yes? In short, her's is not just an inspirational story, she has an agenda to make money by selling books.

      Many of us feel that her defenders are not taking that into account as much as they should. What would be the result of buying her book, taking it to heart, expecting a miraculous result, and still not losing weight? Are her customers prepared for possible failure, or will they blame God, or more likely themselves for not having enough faith to make it work?

      All weight loss plans can fail, but are her customers ready to deal with failing her way? And what if she actually is a sham, was never seriously overweight, and preying upon Christian trust to swindle? No, I think people's concerns really are valid.

      January 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  17. Captemp

    I realize that faith for some is all that they have. It comforts them and gives their life meaning. I can say that I too was once one of these people, needing and wanting for something other than what science could give me. As the child of christian parents I was raised in the christian faith. It was only after I was in college and began to study OTHER major religions that I threw down my mental crutches. I quickly learned that Jesus was as real as my dad in a Santa suit. But it is said that ignorance is bliss, and Jesus freaks love bliss. Furthemore, I'd as soon not give two thoughts to these people except that they continually attempt to force their illogical hogwash on scociety in general. From prayer in school, to teaching creationism, to burning people for witches. Oh wait they don't do the last one anymore, at least not until the next Salem or the next Spanish Inqusition.

    January 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Tammy Grisham

      Our Country was built on "In God we trust" :~)
      We should not push, just share and love one another:~)

      January 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  18. LC

    For VEGASRAGE –

    In regards to your comment: "Because god isn't enough when it comes to overcoming additive behaviors, go ask any recovering alcoholic who inculcated themselves in faith, the biblical word, and religious devotions"

    I myself am a recoverig alcoholic. I believe that with the power and strength that GOD instilled in me by believing and asking for it - I was able to attend treatment with an open mind and come out on top! GOD provided me with the tools i needed for my recovery.

    I feel as though all the ones on here who do not believe THERE IS A GOd, you envision that it is somethin physical that we are saying comes down and makes us not do this and that - whatever it may be. GOD is in our hearts, our minds and our spirits and though we cannot see him it is the dwelling of him inside of us that allows us to face and conquer our battles daily.

    So YES GOD was a HUGE part of my recovery and remains a HUGE part of my daily life - Don't be scared of HIm 🙂

    January 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Tammy Grisham

      God healed me from drug abuse! Many years I was addicted to meth, cocain, marajuanna, and anything else that I could get a hold of! Even alcohol. I was dying, I went home to my parents and prayed! I did not know God, but he knew me, and he met me right were I was. He put me to sleep for days and when I awoke I was heald! I have been clean for 13 yrs. now almost 14! I should have died, I physically should not have been able to live through that! Thank you Jesus:~)

      January 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  19. Audrey

    Lysa, thank you for writing this book. I look forward to reading it, I know the Lord will truely bless you. To all my fellow christians remember do not let your anger overtake you when reading many of these massages, these are the individuals we need to be praying for!!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  20. 8storyshel

    Congratulations, Lysa, if for no other reason than having the courage to be public about your faith and your journey. I cannot believe the anger that those of us with faith seem to insight in those without. You'd think you had committed a hate crime, rather than try to encourage others, based on the responses you have received. I pray you can feel God's pleasure over you, for having the strength to go against the crowd and stand on what you believe, even in the face of such cruel ridicule. It's amazing what people will say from behind the security of their keyboards. God bless you, Lysa!

    January 5, 2011 at 10:25 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.