Someone I used to work with saw me yesterday and commented on how great I looked. She said she didn’t even recognize me. That was nice to hear, but it felt a bit awkward at the same time. I simply said “thanks” for acknowledging the changes she noticed in me. Yet it’s had me reflecting on the changes I’ve been making over the past few years, especially since I lost my mom.
At that time I had already come a ways from where I weighed my heaviest I think, at least 350 pounds. Before she passed away I had lost about 50 pounds, maintained my weight for about five years, but I couldn’t seem to lose anymore. I was reflecting on how she dealt with the things that life throws at us and knew that I was struggling with many of the same behaviors. Only I was determined to not let the same struggles overtake me and do me in. I didn’t want to end up where she was, in the hospital struggling for her life. I wanted to be able to live for as long God wants me alive and available to do the things He’s called me to. So I knew some things had to change:
Stop using food as an emotional response
One of the ways I deal with stress and my emotions has been to stuff myself with food until I feel satisfied. It is easier at times to eat a lot of food rather than to acknowledge my pain. Temporarily it may fill the void and cover the emptiness that I am trying to manage. But the effect has always been short lived so I end up feeling more shame and self-condemnation for not having my act together like a good Christian should. This had to change.
My perspective on food
I have some really messed up thinking when it comes to food. Like if it’s there, I gotta eat it. Just last night I was practicing this philosophy with the brownies that I had made for my dinner guests. After everyone had left I finished them off. They didn’t taste that great in the first place, but I kept eating them until the pan was empty. WHY???!!!!! I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. Anyone want to psycho-analyze that for me? Please don’t. 😉
I know a lot more now than I did before about what kinds of foods will benefit me and those that won’t. I’m more in tune now with how uncomfortable my body feels when I eat a lot of sugar and fat. And it seems like I am becoming more aware of how food benefits me (and how it does NOT-hello somebody), but my view of food and how I use it are still in process.
Become more vulnerable in healthy relationships
Growing up I didn’t see this modeled very well. It seems that weakness and sensitivity has been viewed as a negative in our culture. Why would I want to expose that to anyone and experience rejection? At home I couldn’t be anymore of a burden because my parents were busy raising four girls, but they also didn’t always know how to accept the ways I expressed myself emotionally so I felt rejected again. In church I felt condemned and less than a Christian if I shared my deep struggles with anyone. I didn’t want to be misjudged or appear that I didn’t have my act together. I thought they might accuse me of not having the faith to believe that God was greater than my struggles and leave me to feel cast out one more time.
So I became good at hiding things, especially the way I used food. I know everyone could see the results of how I was not handling it well because it showed, but no one was saying anything to me. I just wanted to ignore the fact that I am human and act like nothing was wrong. In my tendency toward to perfection, I didn’t want to be exposed.
It’s been difficult for me to let people in and trust them, especially if I am afraid of my heart getting hurt. I’m not sure if that’s because I struggle to accept myself, flaws et all. Someone once said that because I love deeply I hurt deeply. I know the same was true for my mom. When she got hurt or offended, she shied away from those that had caused her pain. I know at times I do the very same thing. I tend to hide how I feel in some of my relationships and avoid sharing the things that disappoint me basically so that I don’t have to feel more pain than I already do. It’s a constant struggle with how to manage my fear of rejection and feelings of being let down. Although, I am learning where and with whom and when I can share my hurt in an effort to let my heart heal and be reconciled to wholeness so that I am not bitter and resentful with the people in my life.
I knew then that I needed to find people who were safe and would love me even when I felt like I couldn’t love myself. I needed to be transparent about the condition of my heart so that God could heal the deep wounds from my past or I would not be able to grow into the healthy person God wanted me to become. I’ve marveled at how the Lord has brought friends, leaders and mentors into my life especially in the last few years to guide and counsel me. They extend the love of Christ and speak truth where I need to hear it.
Before I lost my mom I did a great bible study on Psalm 139 called HEAL, Healthy Eating Abundantly Living. It helped me to see how much I needed to change my thinking about who I am in the eyes of Christ, my Savior and how much He loved me. I knew that before I could continue to loose weight successfully and keep it off I had to change the way I thought about myself so that my heart could be healed. I prayerfully asked God to help me and sought Him for what to do. After she passed away I was in a place where my heart was being healed. I was being fed with the truth of God’s word, reading, studying and hearing the bible, taking in the truth that I belonged to Jesus. My heart responded with a desire to honor God by waiting for Him to open doors and lead me in His ways.
Sometimes I have followed Him wholeheartedly on this journey, but when I haven’t I ask Him to change my heart and heal me so that I can give myself completely to Him. Little by little I see changes in me, from giving up Starbucks for a couple of months to considering how a radical change in the kinds of foods I eat or don’t eat will help me become healthier than ever so that I can feel great physically, mentally and emotionally.
I have lost about 50 more pounds since losing my mom and want to get rid of more. I have friends I can be accountable to who will pray for me and encourage me along this path. But I know more will melt off of me as I surrender myself completely to God. He is the One who is making this change in me. I can not do it on my own. In my weakness, He has the ability to be my strength when I come to Him like a child who runs to Her father when she needs help.
I don’t want to be a prisoner to my body, to its cravings, to its dependence on the things that mask the pain. I want to have the freedom to dance when my heart is full from the deep, deep love of Christ. I want to be able to express the joy and passion I feel for my Savior not just with words, but with everything inside of me. I want to be God’s vessel, full of His compassion and mercy so that I can love and be poured out to those around me who need His touch.