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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. lisa

    THanks Lysa for posting here. God reigns and will win in the end. I'm enjoying the book so far. Only a few chapters into it. Also looking forwrd to the webcast. Happy New Year.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  2. JustSomeGuy

    I am delighted to hear that so many people are receiving support from this article. After looking at a great deal of the posts here I just have two questions: Is this not beginning to sound parallel to an AA delivery? We do not need more excuses as to why we do not do what we are supposed to. Next thing you know, obesity will become a ‘disease’ providing yet another rationalization for a simple lack of motivation and responsibility. I understand that genetics play a part in a few cases, but not the percentages we are seeing today. Second: Apparently, God helped the writer. Why? God helped this one person out of how many in this world that would benefit more from his/her support? “It is our job, as a community of people, to help those in need.” Is what I am seeing. OK, sure. But I am seeing no denying that God helped this writer. I am also seeing that God doesn’t intervene with the lives of others. That is our job. So which is it? Does he get involved with other lives or not? If so, then why not help those who desperately need the support way more than a writer with a weight problem did? This can also turn into a very VERY long free will argument. I am just looking for a little clarity here. I am not claiming to know anything. But, to me, it sounds like, through her belief in God, this writer helped herself.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • Jeff

      Her relationship with God helped her. You let him in, he enters. When the spirit of God lives in you, it can help you overcome issues you wouldn't otherwise have the ability to overcome. So, I guess it works if you first believe. Which of course is the first choice.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  3. lovedbyGod

    For the wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20

    December 30, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  4. Judy

    Great article, Lysa! Thanks CNN for printing such a godly woman.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  5. Mike

    What happens to the people who don't lose weight? Does God hate them or did they not believe enough? Just curious...

    December 30, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  6. Edie Kile

    Is it not great that God sweats the small stuff so that we do not have to?! This is a way that you will always win – getting closer to Jesus never hurt anyone. Thank you for being the one to remond us all. YOU GO JESUS GIRL!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • Abe

      Never hurting anyone. Are you serious right now?

      December 30, 2010 at 10:44 am |
    • Bill

      Yeah, because pedophile priets never hurt anyone.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  7. susan

    Thank you, Lysa, for your honesty and encouragement. The journey is tough (no matter what one's issues are) but craving a relationship with Jesus gives us Light for that journey.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  8. Kate M.

    What a revelation to replace your craving for food with craving God. This is a new concept for me and one that I think would be better than a "diet". This is a change of lifestyle. This could really affect many other aspects of my life, in addition to you weight. Amazingly inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  9. Megan

    Lysa,
    I am reading your book right now and I am so encouraged by what you have been writing and the truth that you are willing to speak and reveal. Gluttony is a sin and although it is so tough to hear that and admit it, hiding from it hasn't been working either! Thank you for speaking the truth in love. Can't wait to begin my journey! xoxoxo Lysa!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  10. Kayla

    GREAT ARTICLE!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  11. Andrea

    Thank you Lysa! You are helping others understand that we need to look to GOD more we are struggling with things!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  12. Sue

    Lysa,
    You are such a blessing to so many and how easy it is to realize how many need to hear about Jesus. I pray for all the non-believers – pray they find salvation, believe that Jesus came to save them from their sins. God is so good!

    The article was great and I enjoyed reading it very much. Thank You!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:36 am |
    • Suz

      Well... Jesus worked for her, and works for you and many, many others... but please stop trying to foist your beliefs on other people. I kick it old-school when it comes to faith (I'm Jewish) and I'm no less passionate about my beliefs as you are – everyone deserves to believe what they want, IF they want.

      It's thinking like yours, I believe, that gets people riled up. I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just saying that just like we all have different fingerprints (created that way!), we all have different ways of thinking, connecting, relating, believing/not believing. Live and let live. 🙂

      December 30, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  13. daniel

    You don't need to give your credit for hard work away to an imaginary being. You have done well and done so on your own. I wish you the best of luck and hoe for you the best.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • Suz

      You also don't need to try to talk someone out of something they truly believe in that enriches their personal life.

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

      Too many people give credit to someone else when they do something amazing. It is unfortunate she does not claim this accomplishment for her own. Then again if she did she would not have a story, she would not have a book and she wouldn't be making money. You see God does have his usefulness; and everyone praising this article are feeding the money machine.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • Neil Monroe

      I love your confidence that you KNOW that God is imaginary and there is no plan. Remember, it ALL begins with an assumption- even your assessment, not logic: There is no way, outside of assumption, that you can prove that God doesn't exist. Let's be intellectually honest, at least.

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

      @Neil Monroe: The burden of proof for the existence of (a) god, or anything for that matter, lies squarely on the shoulders of the proponent of the statement. Prove (a) god exists and your argument will bear more credence. It is, to use your vernacular, intellectually honest to admit that you can't prove (a) god exists therefore your position is no more or less accurate than that of Abe.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • Neil Monroe

      @Sean- I'm saying that neither side is up for empirical verification. My objection is to the confidence in one's logic when there is no logic to be proud of... just assumptions. As a believer, I acknowledge making assumptions. Do you acknowledge yours?

      December 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • Sean

      @Neil Monroe: Are you sure you acknowledge YOUR assumptions? Do you believe god exists or do you know he does? I don't know you well enough to assume either way, so I make no assumptions about your condition.

      If you believe he exists, but acknowledge that the possibility exists he may not, then you are acknowledging assumptions.

      If you know he exists, you are assuming something that you have no ability to prove, which is an assumption, unless you actually do have proof (which I would be interested to see). If you acknowledge that this is an assumption, then you are also admitting that you don't know if he exists, you just believe he does, which as we defined earlier is still an assumption.

      I am an atheist. I believe that there is no god. I am assuming that, in the absence of any proof, god does not exist. If someone can prove the existence of god in a way that doesn't require a leap of faith, or an assumption, I would happily change my opinion.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Sean

      Also, it is not scientifically sound to attempt to prove the non-existence of anything. Saying that neither side is up for empirical verification is implying that it is possible to prove the non-existence of something. Scientific principle says that you start by assuming the non-existence of something, and through scientific inquiry and observation you prove it's existence. It would be improbable or impractical to attempt to prove the non-existence of a thing (or a being) since the possibility exists that the observer simply didn't follow the right path.

      You cannot disprove the existence of Russell's Teapot, nor should you be required to. The burden of proof is on Russell to prove that his teapot exists. Proving the existence of (a) god is no different.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  14. Christina Baker

    Great article Lysa! I too struggled with my weight approximately 3 years ago and at the same time I was also battling Lupus. During that time period I was away from the church & my faith; but my parents started wanting to take my only child to church & God started working on me telling me "you need to be taking her to church" during that time frame I was at my heaviest over 200 lbs. Returning to church and my faith made me realize I needed to get healthy. I lost 75 lbs & God healed me of Lupus! Thank you Lysa for always encouraging us Jesus girls to never give up. I'm looking forward to Made to Crave because even though I've lost the weight I still have the battle. 🙂

    December 30, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  15. Cyndee

    Lysa,

    Great article! I can't wait to read the book – I've already ordered it. 🙂 The wheels are already in motion, as I noticed yesterday how I often reward myself with food when pushing through a project/chore/activity I really don't want to do.

    Everybody's trying to fill themselves with something.

    Thank you for your willingness to share truth especially in a hostile environment.

    Thank you for sharing your story in hopes that it will help others and draw them closer to the only One that truly fills us up!

    Hugs and blessings to you!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  16. Tenderrlee Little

    Lysa, ordered this study for myself. This article could have been written by me, it really hit home. Thank you for all that you do for us. Your articles are an inspiration and I look forward to you blog everyday. All for the Glory of God, Tenderrlee

    December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  17. Megan

    OK, I knew these message boards would be full of atheists who would poke fun at the intellect of those that profess to have faith, but this is a bit crazy. NON-believers, are all of us that proclaim to be Christians on here just lying? When we say that we have felt God's presence in our lives through communicating with Him through prayer, who are you to say that we are only imagining it? Just because YOU have not sought out God and felt HIS presence or known what it is like to feel the effects of the Creator of the Universe's hand in your life because YOU choose NOT to believe does not mean that our experiences are not real and authentic! Instead of saying you don't believe in God, why don't you just say what you are really doing, which is IGNORING God. I pray that one day you will not be able to ignore him anymore and that you will know His love personally. He's here to love and save you, and I hope to see you in heaven. God Bless You!

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

      If god were actually real, one wouldn't be able to ignore him; the presence would be astonishing. The fact you actually have to think that god is real is the indication that he really is not. Those are some good apples you just ate, it comes with a side of reality.

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

      Abe,
      How interesting that you would accuse me of eating apples. You're right! Eve did eat an apple and all of mankind got a HUGE reality check-the fact that the wages of sin (being separated from God) causes death. I pray that you'll get your reality check soon. God has to remain somewhat of a mysyery Abe or no one would seek Him. Would you like to serve a God who you could figure out? I wouldn't. I'd rather serve a GOD who I knew was WAY more powerful than me.....anyway, I know these messages aren't going to convince all the unbelievers today, but I'll pray for you anyway! Thanks Abe!

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

      Megan your arrogance is astonishing. Are we ignoring the tooth fairy or the purple leprachaun hiding under our bed as well? As for all the Xtians who believe cant be wrong bit...If everybody believed a lie it would still be a lie.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • Realistic One

      Where was your God on 9/11? Pretty cruel of "Him" to not intervene and save all of those victims....leaving wives without husbands, children without fathers. Did Heaven need fireman and policemen?

      Please, explain to us all why he let those innocents and their families suffer....

      December 30, 2010 at 10:53 am |
    • Free The Zombies

      Megan. you are asking if you are not telling the truth about what you feel or believe in? You don't have to tell the truth....you belief is based on faith not fact. The fact is you can do that without having to prove anything because your belief is very simple...have faith. I grew up baptist and fought hard against anyone who denounced my religion. After some deep "soul searching" I realized everything I have been taught is just a real as the Lord of the Rings. Its a great story, some good some bad and sure it would be wonderful to see my family when I die and live for eternity in heaven. BUT just like watching the Lord of the Rings I had to come back to reality and realize man wrote this and it was done in a time when religion was going through a type of revolution. No one knows for sure who wrote Mathew, Mark, Luke, John or other books from the Bible. How many versions or interpretations of this religion exist? Why was the final version cut down and why does science clash so hard with it? Because its a story passed down from generation to generation, mothers telling daughters, fathers telling sons over and over and like the greek gods its becomes real to those people. Just like every other religion you have no facts just faith and for me I dont want to live under a shadow of something thats made by man and taught by man when i can use my own mind to see its all a bunch of child like stories. Those who preach want to call "non believers" the devil or lost souls but really when you open your mind to whats real in this world.....its like being unplugged from the matrix.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:13 am |
    • Luis Wu

      It's really scary to me that so many people still believe in old archaic myths, written thousands of years ago by members of a primitive culture. Yet they reject modern science. Something is dreadfully wrong with this picture.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  18. BethanyG

    Great article. It amazes me how hateful some of the comments are. Even if you don't believe in God, you have to admit that we overeat to meet some kind of inner need.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  19. Kaka

    What a load of horse crap. God does not make you fat, nor does he make you thin. And weight loss doesn't begin at church. When will people take responsibility for their actions without putting blame on (or giving credit to) imaginary friends?

    December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  20. Jeanie

    Great job Lysa!! I will be praying for you. I can see that this topic has spurred on a lot of opinion. Just remember that to all of those will negative comments you are casting a seed. Don't let them discourage you!!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:32 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.