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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. Jeff

    Bottom line. If people identify a way to make positive changes in there lives, other humans should support the positive change. For the sake of reducing tension, why get so hung up on the cause. The answer for this person could be just the answer another may be looking for. Before you criticize, ask yourself what you've done lately to help anyone.

    As for the comments about "the being in the sky." Everything is a choice. No need to reduce others here. It's just one persons story.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  2. MoodyMoody

    The whole point of this article is that she ate to fill a void, something missing inside of her. That void is not something that can be filled by anything physical; her answer was to put faith in God. For others, the answer might be to find the strength inside the self.

    I find it difficult to understand the level of hate that the atheists are expressing. She is explicitly NOT saying that this is the answer for everyone, only her answer. To be fair, I've seen the same hate from Christians towards atheists in other forums. Why is it so difficult to accept that different people have different spiritual paths?

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

      Unfortunately, the religious expecations of the Major 3 (Judeaism, Christianity, and Islam) are very intolorant of non-believers or of any way of life that doesn't conform to the religion's rules, and while I'm sure members of any of these religions could quote me passages from their books that talk about compassion towards non-believers, the fact remains that there is little room for acceptance of others in practical application. Whenever you have a religion that holds itslf to be the "one true faith," there are going to be serious problems for everyone else around them. Religions that hold themselves to this expectation automatically have to discount anyone else's way of life, otherwise, their beliefs wouldn't be valid. In other words, these religions have created a circular string of reasoning that makes them closed systems with no room for outside ideas to exist. Atheist beliefs remove this "circular" logic and create an open system of perception where everything has the potential to be seen for what it is and without proscribed meanings attached to them. Nothing is more of a threat to free-thinking ideals than religious people or organizations with the power and influence to decide what is right or correct for everyone when they use religious teachings or writings to make their determinations.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  3. Jesus Girl 7

    Lysa I am currently reading this book and I am loving it! I have never really thoought about my love of food in this manner and I am really experiencing some eye openers-Thank you for taking the time to share your very personal journey with all us other Jesus Girls out there-we love you and you are a true inspiration!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  4. Lara

    Great article Lysa! I can't wait to read the book! Knowing you, it's hard on you to see the criticism here, but hang on and keep believing in yourself and your (and God's)message in your book. Praying for those that leave the harsh messages is all we can do. Seems like they need the message of filling their lives with God the most:) Keep up the good work!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  5. Tisha

    What a Blessing you are to me and other women out there! Thank you for sharing your heart & soul with all of us!
    Blessings

    December 30, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  6. Dave

    Oh God, I'll lose weight, and you'll send me to heaven. Let's make a deal God, I'll give you credit for everything, if you'll just send me to heaven or help solve all MY problems. Just another variation on the same self-serving talk.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  7. Malisa

    Thanks Lisa for putting such a whole picture to this problem, barring medical conditions, if it is 10 lbs or 1000 lbs there is a reason we are reaching for the wrong things instead of the right things for our lives, both here on earth and more importantly after earth. Your calm support and personal experience really help me see that yes I can make this mental adjustment too, all I have to loose is the weight and to gain a deeper relationship with my Lord – wow that is priceless! After reading your other blog on the Made to Crave book, I have really thought about why I was reaching for the foods I was reaching for, and what do you know, I actually lost 2lbs during Christmas!

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

    My two Dog's helped me lose weight. I talked with them for hours about my cravings, and they told me I could overcome it by filling that void with kindness. They told me to give them treats and take them for walks, and in doing such I would get much fulfillment from being kind and bonding in this way with them. I lost 50 lbs. and wow do I feel great!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:26 am |
    • The earth is 6000 years old, stupid.

      When does your book come out! I cant wait to fail at another diet! =D

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

      They sell it at Petco along with indulgences! By your way into heaven!!!!

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

    Lisa,
    I enjoy your blogs and I am looking forward to your straightforward and humorus style of writing. I have ordered a book for myself and one for my sister. Thank you from a couple of Jesus Girls!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  10. Scott

    Ironic how a person of faith can tolerate someone not believing in god but a person of no faith can not tolerate someone that does believe in god.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • Abe

      I like people that have faith, in something that is actually real. It's difficult to tolerate ignorance.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:27 am |
    • Suz

      I always find that to be ironic, too. I'm a very spiritual person (not in an orthodox way, but no less passionate), and I cannot for the life of me understand the vehemence and hatred directed to believers from the anti-theists. Most spiritual folks are very kind, loving people... it's only a couple of bad apples (Fred Phelps, anyone? Al Quaeda?) that create the image which I think the anti-theists are focused on while delivering their vitriol.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • Mike

      Ironic? Oh yeah, the Spanish Inquisition was VEEEERRRRRYYYY tolerant of us non-believers. Those witch burnings too... Yeah, you religious people have such a long history of tolerance. You still saying gays are abominations too? Wow, just the definition of tolerant you guys are...

      December 30, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • Abe

      @ MIke lol, Isn't it quite hilarious how every religious person tries to depict themselves as totally holy and without fault. Speaking for the whole of their community when most of their leaders are child rapists and money launders.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
    • Suz

      Hey Mike? The Inquisition happened a long time ago, first of all. Secondly, they also targeted the Jews – did you know that? And I'm Jewish. And, yet, somehow, I do not have a problem with the way someone else chooses to believe... or not believe, for that matter.

      Hmm. Wonder how I manage that...

      December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
    • Mike

      Hey Suz, name some conflicts that didn't have religion as their base factor. Then name some that did. I'm sure you will find it's much easier to do the latter.

      I have friends who are catholic, and they are great people. But don't try and kid yourself that as a community (which is what the post what referring to, the "community" of non-believers) they are responsible for the worst battles in human history. So I'd stop calling the kettle black.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • Suz

      @Mike – I'm not denying that misdirected zealots have caused a lot of ruckus over the years, but that was more about power than anything else; G_d just happened to be a convenient excuse. Trust me, even if you removed faith/religion from the world entirely, human beings would still try to find some way to dominate/control each other.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:45 am |
    • Artemis

      Suz:
      How do you know that people would "find a way to kill each other" if there wasn't religion? Humans have been abusing, torturing and killing each other for so many thousands of years because of religious ideals, or because of men's interpretations of religious writings, that virtually ALL dischord has some element of religion mixed in the mess, including mondern day religious violence, such as American Christians' condemnation of gays; child-witch executions in Africa; Muslim terrorists in the Middle East, and the list goes on and on. Dischord over religious differences is alive and well in the mondern age: we just usually don't quote the damages as much as the historical attrocities because they are still ongoing, and we don't have a final death count yet.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:02 am |
    • history

      yes, those communist countries that have sought to eliminate religion entirely have been completely sucessful at maintaining peace and harmony

      January 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  11. Jayme

    You are an encouragment to me.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  12. Amy

    Great article, Lysa! Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. I'm looking forward to the webcast!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  13. JennyTX

    Most of the fattest cities in the countries are in the Bible Belt. How do you explain that?

    December 30, 2010 at 10:23 am |
    • Bill

      It's because the fatties believe that god will help them get skinny. Since there is no god, it never happens. If they would just put down the pulled pork sandwhiches and get on a treadmill, they would not have to wait for the magic fairy in the sky to make them thin.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:34 am |
  14. clemsondave

    CNN, I believe you ought to reconsider your enabling of comments on the Belief Blog. I have not seen a single productive conversation come out of here. Only haters and trolls dumping on the people who actually enjoyed the article.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:23 am |
    • Abe

      Hi Pot, im Kettle; have we met ?

      December 30, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • Suz

      I completely agree... although CNN has to know by now that this sort of article will be a magnet for all the athiests (or, more accurately, vocal ANTI-theists) to come in here and start the hate.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  15. marcy

    Thank You Leysa for your God given wisdom! I love your blogs and I learn somthing from them each time I read them. May God bless you and your family in this coming year of 2011.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  16. Sherry

    Thanks SO much for posting this. Great encouragement and insights for the start of the new year. Which always coincides with weight loss resolutions

    December 30, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  17. slw

    People want to believe in a Big Daddy in the sky, but that doesn't make it so. People want to believe that there is a vast plan and ultimate justice, but that doesn't make it so. Nor do the good works of believers. The author was lucky to grow up in a society of abundance that allowed her to address her psychological issues with food. How cruel if there really were a God who allows billions to starve, or die from lack of medical care; who presides over malaria, dysentery, tsunamis and earthquakes. It is illogical to claim that everything good comes from an all-powerful God and then to give this God a pass when it comes to disease and death (and please don't tell me a story about an apple tree and a snake, that's too primitive and cruel for a serious discussion). There is no plan. The world is unfair for no reason. The only necessary reasons for helping others are that we who have the means, are lucky that we can, and helping others is the human thing to do.

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

      Well said.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:26 am |
    • Neil Monroe

      And please sir, your claim that"Big Daddy" can't exist is fundamentally irrational. You don't know! Let's be honest about our assumptions whether in the direction of "faith" or "logic".It is not wrong to assume, it simply requires intellectual honesty to specify the boundaries of one's belief.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • slw

      "And please sir, your claim that"Big Daddy" can't exist is fundamentally irrational....Let's be honest about our assumptions whether in the direction of "faith" or "logic". It is not wrong to assume, it simply requires intellectual honesty to specify the boundaries of one's belief."

      Oh so many misconceptions here! Where to begin? I never claimed that Big Daddy can't exist, just that there is no evidence that he does, and a great deal of evidence to the contrary (e.g. Genesis is known to be a myth, prayer has been proven to be ineffectual, etc.). I also stated that the actual world is inconsistent with the notion that Big Daddy is good. So either he doesn't exist, isn't all-powerful, or is cruel and perverse. Faith is not a viable alternative to logic. Faith is belief without evidence and there is no difference between faith and wishful thinking. That's why these blog posts attract so much ridicule. It is not wrong to assume as a starting point, but assumptions have to be tested and borne out by the evidence, otherwise they are worthless.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  18. Pam

    Thank You Lysa you are such a great God fillied lady that has such a way of bringing it to us. I cant wait to get started with this study. Bless you and everyone who has had a comment on this blog. God loves you ALL. Everyone has been in my prayers the believers and especially non believers. Love to you all.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  19. CP

    Listen, we all have our religious views, but this isn't really the forum to insult others beliefs. Were she using her faith as justification for hate and denigration as some do, that would be different. She found the power within herself to overcome her self-determined weakness. Kudos. It doesn't matter what name she ascribes to her will power.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  20. Bonnie

    I know the emptiness that I've attempted to fill with food. I know the fear I've attempted to assuage with food. I'll be interested to read your book, Lysa, and see if it offers a solution to these issues.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:19 am |
    • Suz

      Best of luck in your efforts... it's not easy. I lost 70 pounds, and although I didn't do it the same way this woman did, I did find fun, positive things in my life to help me stay happy and active. That was 50% of the solution; the other part was 25% eating right and 25% figuring out an exercise routine I can live with in the long term.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:23 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.