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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. Denise

    Last year I embarked on a weight loss regime. Do it every January it seems. Except this one. BECAUSE, last year, I not only went to weight watcher's for the how, but I went to God's Word for the why. Why? Because my body is temple of the Holy Spirit... I am not my own; I was bought at a price (the death of Jesus). Therefore I am called to honor God with my body. (1 Cor 6:19) So, with points in hand, an exercise agenda, and right reason and focus, I not only achieved the goal, but have stayed there. Now – there are those who will take that and make something crude out of it, and that will be heart breaking – not to me, but to God. When you cut the excess out of your own personal life, it's amazing what God calls you to do with it – like adopt our precious Brazilian girl through World Vision.

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

    Lysa, I agree with you about weight being a spiritual problem rather than a physical problem. No matter what faith we embrance or no faith at all, each of us has a place inside that needs to be filled – we choose food oftentimes rather than addressing the true need. I'm looking forward to Made to Crave. Keep writing – you have a true gift.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:04 am |
    • Mike

      I'm agnostic and 6'4" / 170 in great shape. Spiritual emptiness must have skipped me.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:07 am |
    • IntegralReality

      Cheese cake tastes better than faith... admit it.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  3. Cynthia

    Great article Lysa! I look forward to the webcasts and reading your book. I have also enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for being so open & free to share your experiences with us. It is encouraging.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  4. Lynn B

    Thank you and GOD BLESS you Lysa!

    John 6:35 (New International Version, ©2010)
    35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:04 am |
    • IntegralReality

      So, no christian has ever died of starvation? Or did your imaginary friend break his promise?

      December 30, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  5. IntegralReality

    So... your imaginary friend in the sky cares more about housewives' waistlines than it does children dying of AIDS in Africa?
    You people are funny.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:03 am |
    • Denise

      If you think it's about waistlines, you have completely missed the point. God doesn't care about what size you are – in fact you may very well be the size He wants you to be. What He cares about is whether or not you are using food, alcohol or some other substance or thing to satiate something in your life that only He can truly satiate. Are you placing things as gods in your life instead of putting God where He belongs in your life?

      December 30, 2010 at 10:12 am |
    • Mike

      Denise... Your post implies that the author is not a happy person? How do you know that? There are plenty of people in this world who are happy without god in their lives, and do not need food, alcohol, or anything else to fill some void.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:16 am |
    • IntegralReality

      Denise: I have no gods, I know that I am wholly subject to the laws of man and to the social contract. What have you put into your mind, other than someone elses myths? Have you ever done anything in your life simply because it was the right thing to do, or have you done everything based upon the notions of what someone else told you that their imaginary friend wants you to do?
      America is in the shape that it is in because of people like you that will not accept responsibility for their own actions. People that believe in gods are more likely to believe the lies that politicians tell them.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:31 am |
    • Denise

      Actually, faith in God requires a very high level of acceptance of personal responsibility. Yes, I do things just because they are the right thing to do. I've lived life your way – void of faith. I'd encourage you to try your life with God and see what happens.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
    • Jason

      @IntegralReality Weak troll is weak. Get lost, idiot.

      January 2, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  6. Ann

    Way to go Lysa, great artical and such a blessing for those that have so much trouble losing weight and trusting God to give us the power and strength. God is supreme and can do anything, if you just ask!!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  7. Gabrielle

    I really needed to read this. You are so very accurate with this. Thx

    December 30, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  8. Mike

    You guys really need to get off that argument, it just makes you look like arrogant a#@$#@. "When you are laying there dying you will believe what I do", what a pathetic way to try and win a debate. Not only does it do nothing to prove your point, it also tries to assume that you somehow can predict the future.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  9. Katie D

    Lysa, this is a message that everyone needs to hear. Some people may not need this at this point in thier lives, some people may decide that they don't need God at all, but when they hit the point and need a Savior and a Friend, he will prove faithful.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:01 am |
    • Silver Chair

      Amen, Katie! Until the whole world hears!

      December 30, 2010 at 10:20 am |
    • IntegralReality

      So, when will your god cure childhood leukemia?

      December 30, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  10. Heather

    The bible says that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I'd much rather be willing to do that now, than forced to do that when it's too late!

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

      AMEN to that!!!

      December 30, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • Abe

      Such horrible logic. Live your life as though you owe someone something and not living it for yourself. It is weak minded people like you that continue to support religion's mind raping and actual raping of our youth.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  11. Connie

    This is a struggle so many women can relate to. I can't wait to read this book!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  12. Todd

    You know Marsha, don't give the christ eaters too much credit. The Catholic priests have lots of fun raping kids, and many of you people loving killing gay people for being gay. Check out Uganda if you don't believe me.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  13. Mike

    Whatever helps... Many people have this problem, that is blaming others for their own problems. The author just chose God as the one to blame in this instance.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:59 am |
    • Dena

      What a revelation and an inspiration. For years this seesaw dieting thing has nearly killed me. And what I really wanted was a way to deal with what food was becoming to me. So refreshing to see someone that sees that it's another way to fill an emptiness that God created for Him. I am so excited to read the book and participate in the webcasts! I think this approach is LONG overdue. I need my heart healed – not a diet.

      December 31, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  14. Mandi

    Great article, Lysa! I can't wait to read your book and get started on my new journey with God. I can't wait to see what he reveals to me in this study.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  15. Abe

    This article was hilarious and probably falsified. It is a gratuitous promotion of religion because it seems to be a failing ideology in the American view. Religion has to advertise to get its members also, it’s just another monthly payment like anything else. I suggest Netflix however, much more entertaining.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  16. Kathy

    To all you people out there that says God does not exist....He will not force you to love him and I guarantee if you come down with cancer or find out you are going to die you will be calling out to the same God you say does not exist. I feel sorry for you all non-believers. Lysa great article and I have your book now and am reading it. Thank you to CNN for allowing christians to have a voice. We will be praying for the non-believers.

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

      When Im on my death bed Im gonna cry out to santa claus.....hes just as likely to hear me as your god.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:02 am |
    • Mike

      You guys really need to get off that argument, it just makes you look like arrogant a#@$#@. "When you are laying there dying you will believe what I do", what a pathetic way to try and win a debate. Not only does it do nothing to prove your point, it also tries to assume that you somehow can predict the future.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  17. Sandra

    I am continually amazed by the bitter God-haters. You don't want to be subjected to His rules and you don't want to live in a society that is predicated on His laws. You want to be left to do what you want to do, when you want to. You constantly accuse those with faith of being hypocrites in the fact that they are trying to "force" their beliefs down your throat. YET--you do not afford this courtesy to anyone else. So even though Lisa is telling you, not what to do, but WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED TO HER-you ridicule, despise, hate, and rail against her and the one who created you.

    I pray for your sakes that you figure out that you need to humble yourself before Him before you leave this earth. The scriptures teach that "every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that JESUS CHRIST is Lord." He has blessed you with free will. And even though you do what you want to do-you are still not happy. I just find it all very, very sad.

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

      Ummmm its predicated by the laws of man. Your sky fairy doesnt exist. Blah blah scripture this, blah blah blah youre gonna burn in hell that.

      Hey do me a favor and tell your god to stop doing his best to hide from us all and I might believe he exists.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:00 am |
    • The earth is 6000 years old, stupid.

      The very fact that we live in a society that is predicated by gods law, an illogical foundation, makes me forced to fight back. Many of my morals are in line with the bible but many are not. Continue to vote unjustified nonsense into law in order to FORCE everyone to act as you wish, and I will continue pushing back against religion. I do want to do whatever I want, when I want, with the caveat that it doesn’t hurt others in any way. I don’t care what you do as long as it doesn’t negatively affect me. Why is there anything wrong with enjoying your life? IMO it’s all we have.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:04 am |
    • Silver Chair

      @Sandra.

      I agree, Sandra. I, too, find it sad as well. But my sadness is always overcome by the sincere joy of both loving and praying for non-believers. No matter the mockery or insults that some may post on a message board, it still doesn't diminish my love for them.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • Josuah

      Sandra, you don't quite get it.
      When you define me as someone who doesn't "want to be subjected to His rules" and doesn't "want to live in a society that is predicated on His laws" you become the one forcing beliefs down other's throats. These are beliefs that are occurring in your head, not mine.

      You can't rebel against something you know isn't true. If anything, 'God-haters' don't want to be subject to YOUR personal rules. To get a sense of how silly your comments sound to me, re-read your post but replace the words 'God' and 'Jesus Christ' with 'Zeus', or, better yet, 'Sandra'.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • The earth is 6000 years old, stupid.

      "The scriptures teach that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that SANDRA is Lord"

      😀

      December 30, 2010 at 10:28 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Silver Chair: We like you too. We're just baffled at how you could possibly believe such hogwash.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • RUSH

      Hypocrites AND delusional...dont forget delusional – very important

      December 30, 2010 at 11:16 am |
    • Mok

      There is no such thing as freewill – there are no alternate universes in which you would have turned left versus right. You are who you are and you will always do the same thing because its based on who you are.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:20 am |
    • Who wants chowder?

      I prayed to Sandra this morning and almost didnt have enough TP to leave as a donation. Thank goodness for the shower afterwards

      December 30, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  18. lisa smith

    Lysa's message in Made to Crave has changed my life. Her own struggle brought to the surface all the areas of my life where I settle for less than God's best. I am the skinny girl with food issues that I only sort of dealt with in the past. And compromises lead to failure. I got tired of failing and settling and decided if Lysa could do it, I could too. It's been an awesome journey and I recommend every woman take it! Thanks for saying yes, Lysa.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  19. David Johnson

    @Lysa TerKeurst

    I fail to see why this was a "get right with god" issue.

    Joan Rivers once said: "There were no fat people coming out of Auschwitz."

    Cheers!

    December 30, 2010 at 9:53 am |
    • Who wants chowder?

      there werent any 70 year olds with plastic bodies either. i saw a picture of that broad lately and she looks like she is ready for middle-age p0rn. But if you had to get it on with a 70 year old I guess she would be the choice.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  20. JL

    There's been entirely too much religious drivel on CNN as of late. Enough already.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:50 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.