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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. Tess Gillaspy

    Clarity in the midst of insanity – thank you, Lysa for giving a clear and straight answer to a universal problem. The answer may not be easy, but it is simple – God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  2. Boka, Springfield, PA

    People think veggies are how you lose weight but its not. It's protein. Get rid of the pastas, rice, potaoes and breads and eat mainly meats and fishes. And throw in veggies after wards for nutrition. Also never use a frying pan again. use steamer, and/or oven.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:49 am |
    • The earth is 6000 years old, stupid.

      The easiest way is to simply burn more calories than you consume. You could eat nothing but ice cream if you worked out enough.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  3. Robert

    My ex-wife told me a woman gets fat to tell the world how terrible is her husband. Obesity also is a way to get back at your spouse..

    December 30, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  4. pgAngel

    If prayer worked, not only would you not see a lot of fat girls but no bald guys either.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  5. sam

    hey, people, no need to be nasty here! If this woman found a way to make herself look and feel better AND become more faithful, I say great for her. It's not any of your places to put her down for that or try to start some stupid debate that won't go anywhere.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  6. curtegg

    Maybe we should feed all the fat people to the starving people?

    December 30, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  7. El Guapo

    Hey Renee he both allows AND causes these things. Who do you think made the rules? Who do you think created satan? Who do you think created existence knowing full well what would happen and did it anyway? Who do you think is going to torture 2/3s of civilization for eternity? Your evil, ghoulish and childish god.

    That is of course if he was real which is highly improbable.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:45 am |
    • The earth is 6000 years old, stupid.

      What do you mean? That fat lady lost weight. God helped her do it. Cant deny that proof, lol.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:54 am |
    • Bill

      "That fat lady lost weight. God helped her do it. Cant deny that proof"

      I can't deny that there is no proof that god did anything. If I tell you that Chewbacca helped me lose weight, is that proof enough for you to believe in wookies, and that one helped my diet plan?

      December 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • The earth is 6000 years old, stupid.

      fix your sarcasm detector

      December 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • I care...

      El Guapo: No one is going to "torture" anyone for eternity. What happens to you after you die is your choice.

      If God doesn't exist, you have nothing to lose in the choice you have made, and neither do I.

      But if there is a 10% chance that God does exist, then I still don't lose, (because I know HE IS) – but where does that leave you?

      January 5, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  8. Terry

    Great article Lysa – Thank you for sharing and helping others that struggle with this issue. Can't wait to read your new book "Made To Crave". As far as the starving issue that others have commented on – No one can questions you about reaching out to others because you adopted your two precious sons from Africa 8 years ago. You do care for the starving. I can't imagine getting through each day without God in my life. So sad for those that don't believe. Many blessings and God Bless.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  9. Sandy B

    I have struggled with weight and body-image all my life. I've tried losing the extra weight for vanity sake (to get into clothes I can't wear) and for health reasons (being pre-diabetic, etc.), but it was when I truly internalized the fact that it is a spiritual battle and that I need to lay down my food "idol" to please God, that I received your book in the mail right before Christmas. What a sweet gift to myself!! I have read every word and it confirmed all that I have been experiencing. My gift to Jesus on his birthday was what I crave the most....SUGAR & junk food in general. In my case, I can't learn to crave God until I let go of this addictive way of eating, sit with the emptiness, and wait for the filling. Thanks, Lysa, for being the encouragement so many of us need. Happy New Year.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  10. SeanNJ

    Ugh. Way to sell yourself and your own determination short. If people would stop feeling so "powerless" all the time, the world would be a better place.

    Waiting for someone else to fix things, worst of all the invisible man in the sky, is a terrible way to live. The number of comments here that insist that all the good stuff comes from a fairy tale and the bad stuff is our fault is truly saddening. Accepting personal responsibility and accepting the credit that goes along with it isn't evil.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  11. Joe Mahma

    .

    Adults with imaginary friends are stupid.

    .

    December 30, 2010 at 9:43 am |
    • CJ

      bwahahah best comment yet 🙂

      December 30, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  12. Marilyn

    OH MY!!! ME is written all over this!! WOW Lysa...you & God just spoke to me like you would not believe. I have not yet gotten that book....but believe me..as SOON as I am off here from posting this...I WILL be ordering it and I WILL be watching those live webcasts! I SO NEED THIS!!!! Thank you Lysa for being obedient to God and blessing us with this article. NOW...I KNOW I am NOT ALONE in this! God Bless You!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  13. Dan

    Not a good reason to get mad at God. I know people dying from cancer who never got mad at God or blamed Him. You have to use the tools God gives you. Diet exercise etc. Try battling demons when you go to bed at night and not sleeping. Then you have a reason to get mad at God.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  14. Tristi

    This sounds so familiar. From my own soul practically. I am very much looking forward to reading the book!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  15. jmhansen

    To all of the haters who just want to bash someone for having faith:
    1. Why does it matter to you if someone wants to believe in ANYTHING to help them along their life path? If it works, it works! Who cares if it's faith in God, the Easter Bunny, or just the "power of thought."
    2. Why do you even bother clicking on articles that are clearly religious in nature? If it's not something you believe in or subscribe to, pick a different article, one which you might have something constructive to add to the conversation.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:41 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Because we are the only ones with anything constructive to add.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:45 am |
    • Sandra

      Because they are angry, bitter, and miserable. And they despise the truth and God and His word-and yet He has allowed them the freedom to express themselves.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:58 am |
    • slw

      Because it's these same people who want to run our schools, who want to destroy the teaching of science and indoctrinate our children with this nonsense. America is falling behind in education, health care and public policy, and the religious right is largely to blame. Religion is not neutral. It does much more harm than good. Read Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" or Hitchens' "God is Not Great".

      December 30, 2010 at 10:34 am |
    • CJ

      because we are correct, and no matter how many times you put your finger in your ears and go "i cant hear you, i cant hear you" it wont make your supernatural god exist!

      December 30, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Because they are angry, bitter, and miserable'
      Actually I am fine thanks. I have a good job, family, couple of great kids, give money to charity when I can. I am happy with my life.
      Mind you my daughter's friend seems to be angry and miserable a lot, what with her being banned from watching 'wizards of waverly place' and similar for its 'witchcraft' content, or not allowed to be friends with a muslim girl at school because she 'worships false gods'

      December 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      slw, the only problem with your statement is it does not line up with facts

      US, Christianity is undergoing a continuous relative decline in demographics. While the absolute number of Christians rose from 1990 to 2008 as the overall population increased, the actual percentage of Christians dropped from 86.2% to 76.0%.
      It is the liberals who want to teach Ebonics and lower test standard so everyone "has an equal shot" in life.
      Hitchen's point is fair. Religion "transcendentalizes" ordinary cultural differences so that tthe parties feel they are in a cosmic battle between good and evil, so he states "religion poisons everything". So it would seem. There are problems with this view, however. The Communist Russian, Chinese, and Camodian regimes of the twentieth centry rejected all organized religion and the belief in God. A forerunner of all these was the French Revolution. These societies were all rational and secular, yet each produced massive violence against its own people without the influence of religion. Alister McGrath points out that when the idea of God is gone, a society will "transcendentalize" something else in order to appear morally and spiritually superior, like the Marxists.

      This is a brief excerpt from "The Reason for God" by Tim Keller, go get a copy and finish reading the book.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • Thegoodman

      "1. Why does it matter to you if someone wants to believe in ANYTHING to help them along their life path? If it works, it works! Who cares if it's faith in God, the Easter Bunny, or just the "power of thought.""

      Because THE TRUTH is important. Believing in fairy tales to improve your life only allows you to live a delusional life. The truth is the only path that anyone should seek. Are you equating God/Jesus to the Easter Bunny? I happen to agree with you, but it undermines your already weak argument.

      "2. Why do you even bother clicking on articles that are clearly religious in nature? If it's not something you believe in or subscribe to, pick a different article, one which you might have something constructive to add to the conversation."
      Unlike theists, atheists are not afraid of new information. I love reading and learning about theology and the more I learn the less I believe. Knowledge is the enemy of faith, I can see why so many Christians are terrified of atheists. You are afraid you might learn that we are in fact normal and intelligent people, that we do no work for Satan (he doesn't exist), and that we are actually right. While you think this will strip you of your morals and security blanket, it will actually set you free of your chains of religion.

      December 30, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Jason

      @Thegoodman: You would have points if your opinions weren't so littered with wild generalizations, fallacies, and unsupported claims. You epitomize the ignorant and arrogant viewpoint. Get off your high horse and learn a little reason and tolerance.

      January 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Jason

      "littered with wild generalizations, fallacies, and unsupported claims." -that pretty much describes religion and it's numerous books of silliness.

      "You epitomize the ignorant and arrogant viewpoint. Get off your high horse and learn a little reason and tolerance." – that pretty much describes your post and what you need to do yourself.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  16. Kimberly

    Lisa
    May you be specifically encouraged today by the Lord just as you have encouraged so many!
    1Peter 1:2 (NLT)

    December 30, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  17. Noni

    Bless you for opening your heart and allowing yourself to be transparent for the benefit of others. You may never know how many people you will touch. I pray that it will be the beginning of healing for many. Your comment, "learning to turn to God to fill my soul instead of food to overstuff my emptiness" could be changed by replacing the word food with whatever one may be using to fill the place in their life that only God can fill...it could be replaced with, drinking, drugs, shopping, my spouse, my children, my possessions,etc. When one surrenders the issue to God, then God can begin to work in their life. Thank you for helping someone today turn their defeat into victory, and despair into hope. You are a delight!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  18. AK

    I am not in any sense evangelically inclined as it would seem is the writer, but Lord, I don't have even to read the posts to feel the venom and vitriol that will be spewed on this woman for her gentle screed.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:41 am |
    • Sandra

      Yep. I am beginning to think that you must get a discount on your internet connection if you are an atheist.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:00 am |
    • Jason

      lol, I'm inclined to agree, Sandra. It's sad the negative filth and nonsense they'll spew all day long. Surely their energy could be spent more positively. This woman has achieved something fulfilling and positive in her life; get over it trolls. And have a nice day!

      January 2, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  19. Susan

    Great article. I read the Proverbs 31 devotions every day and they are food for my soul. Can't wait to read your book. The only successful way to deal with things is to get to the root issue and you have hit the nail on the head for many of us. Thank you!!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:40 am |
    • Julie

      I agree Susan! I love the P31 website, it always seems directed right at me and I can't wait to read this book. I ordered my copy the other day and am waiting for the mailman to bring it so I can dive right in! Thanks CNN for this article!

      December 30, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  20. WWRRD

    I am glad that you were given the strength to overcome your weight issues. It is hard to serve God when you you are worn out from dragging lots of excess weight around. You found a way to overcome and are an inspriration to others to do the same.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:40 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.