The truth is I’ve struggled with food my whole life. It’s been a love hate relationship I navigated liked stormy seas, either barely treading water or sinking miserably. I spent more years of my childhood than I can count on one hand staring at my body in the mirror, analyzing it’s every curve and cupping my waste between my two hands to ensure my fingers touched. Nearly 30 hours a week in a body suit didn’t help [once piece dance garment].
I can hardly remember conversations from my teen years, muffled and stolen by the obsessive calorie counting that controlled my every thought. Over and over I’d list off the food I’d eaten, counting every morsel that passed my lips.
It got so bad, that I could convince myself I’d eaten a cake by simply staring at it long enough. By my late teens, I stopped perspiring and would get sent out of dance class for not working hard enough. “If I wasn’t sweating, how could I be giving it my all?” My teacher would protest. My attitude didn’t help much. I was permanently moody from the hunger pains I learnt to praise- markers for a day of neglecting food, well done.
There were points in my life where I’d come back from the deep end and realize how deadly and scary my obsession had become. A period of time would pass, where I’d allow myself to eat more normally and enjoy food as my family and friends did. But soon enough I’d reach a tipping point, where I couldn’t face my naked self in the mirror and I’d be back on the roller coaster of unhealthy eating habits. Binge and Fast; the premise of my journey with food for nearly 15 years.
As my relationship with God matured and he began to refine me [more like do an overhaul] , he showed me quickly how deeply engrained my obsession with food and vanity had become. A lie had been planted by Satan many years ago and over time, I had allowed it to become “truth”, even accepting Satan’s voice as my own. While many of the lies were surface things, such as believing I couldn’t be loved if I didn’t look a certain way or that I was much “bigger” than I truly was, the root of the lie was so much deeper. It preyed on the vary thing that kept me furthest from God for years: acceptance, my need for control and my desire to “have everything together and wrapped up pretty.”
I had come to believe that if I didn’t look perfect on the outside, people would begin to question my inside. They’d know I was weak. They’d know I was broken. They’d mock me. And no one would be my friend.
I viewed perfection as my credibility in all things.
I had come to the end of myself and knew that if anything was going to change, it would have to be God led and inspired. I’d already tried everything I could think of, from learning about nutrition, forming healthy eating and workout habits, going for counselling, reading every self help book I could get my hands on and owning up to it to family and friends. In essence, I tried everything I could try, but in my own strength. And none of it worked.
So I laid it at his feet, repented of my foolish and all consuming sin [allowing a silly thing like food to take priority and focus over God in my life] and prayed that he would heal me and restore me to full health. If there was anything he needed me to do, I’d do it. Just simply say the word, Holy Spirit, and I will jump.
The first leg of my recovery came from an encounter with Lisa Bevere and the transformational healing that took place through her book, “You are not what you weigh.” In it I discovered how I had allowed food to become an idol that I worshipped over God; that I trusted it and myself, more than I did Jesus. And so long as I tried to control the situation and find my identity and worth in it, I’d be in bondage. I was choosing to be in slavery, rather than accept the easy yoke of Christ! I experienced the power of true repentance and the healing that follows, as God opened my eyes, freed me from my obsessive thinking, changed the way I saw food and restored my digestive system back to health. [I had stopped producing electrolytes, my metabolism had slowed and I had developed gluten and dairy intolerance] It truly was a miracle, God orchestrated.
But like the onions that we are, God is never truly done. ‘Cause when one layers been shed, there’s another to be peeled, until we finally reach the core or the root of our problem.
I experienced months of new found joy and contentment with food before old habits crept in again. And with a few busy months behind me, including 2 weeks of travel, I found myself feeling sluggish, opting for chips and a second serving of ice cream, rather than a run and my go-to protein smoothie. I felt jailed by my cravings, unable to say no, with little motivation to eat clean or work out.
I prayed for guidance and felt the Holy Spirit nudge me towards a juice cleanse. Nothing serious; just a simple 3 day detox to rid myself of the cravings. This had nothing to do with loosing weight and my heart was entirely in the right place. I’ve learnt my lesson. I want to walk in obedience, turning from the things that steal my focus and attention from God.
Those three days were nothing short of war; a test of my faith and perseverance! I was permanently “hAngry,” my days were packed back to back with disappointing and frustrating meetings, my vehicle broke down, nearly leaving me stranded in the middle of the highway with no hazard lights and I had no energy to answer the incessant phone calls and texts from everyone who needed me [many of whom I love dearly and truly needed my prayers and support]. Every fibre in my being wanted to scream from the rooftops how terrible my days were treating me and drive through dairy queen to make myself feel better; but instead I chose to hang on, keep my nose in his word and give thanks.
And friends, I’m so glad I did. ‘Cause on the other side there was light and clarity. I see now why Satan fought so hard to derail me in those 3 days.
You see, I discovered something; a root of ingratitude and poor return for the kindness and love that God has shown me. I’d become numb to some of the basic blessings that I should be giving thanks for every day, like food, water and shelter.
I’d taken for granted the feeling of being full, even despising it and abusing it’s gift – keeping me healthy and letting me know when my body needs fuel or has had enough. There are people every day, starving for just ONE morsel and here I was wishing away the feeling of being full because it meant bloating and uncomfortable jean buttons!
I didn’t appreciate that food is the fuel that allowed me to stay focused during the day, get to and do the things I needed to and be joyful all the while doing them! It gives me the energy to share Jesus with others, show compassion to those who are hurting, love until it’s uncomfortable and show mercy to difficult people.
Without fuel, I’m an empty, angry, defeated shell. How ever then, can I be a light and disciple without food?
Lord forgive me for not seeing this sooner and thank you for unveiling my eyes. Your blessings are abundant both profound and simple. Yet every one of them intentional, with purpose and a mission. May I never again take for granted the blessings of food, the fuel it provides and the community that is built enjoying it together. I praise you and worship you in Jesus’ name, Amen!