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Sweet Freedom

I have a love-hate relationship with food. I love to dip a sweet chocolate and mint Oreo cookie sandwich into a tall glass of milk, savoring every bite. But then, I hate food because it inevitably shows up as extra pounds. Every time I look at the increased number on the scale, I beat myself up. Every. Single. Time.

Like most women, I struggle with body image, love unhealthy foods, and have extra pounds hanging around. So years ago, I began my quest for that “miracle” diet. I tried every diet and diet pill that was available and even tried not eating at all. When those desperate measures didn’t get me where I wanted to be, I started to dabble with bulimia for more years than I care to admit. I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” I am grieved over some of the ridiculous things I have done to be skinny.  

Although I lost many pounds over the years, they always came back, usually bringing unwanted friends along with them. I blamed everyone and everything—except myself—for my issues with food. I accused the busyness of an active young family, an abusive relationship, or the loss of a loved one. When the slightest life disappointment was thrown my way, the Oreos and milk would be right by my side to comfort me.

During those years, I was on a roller-coaster of unhealthy eating patterns—emotional ups and downs, weight losses and gains. And like most of us, I got way too comfortable with this cycle of failure in my life and didn’t want to spend the time and effort changing it. It felt hopeless. As I lay my head down at the end of the day, I’d tell myself there’s always tomorrow.

I would often pray for God to remove the cravings and the pounds, yet I didn’t wake up skinny with intense cravings for fruit, vegetables, and all the foods containing nutrients my body so desperately needed. I wish I were being melodramatic and exaggerating here, but I’m not.

Paul knew what it felt like to have struggles that wouldn’t go away. In 2 Corinthians 12, we read that Paul desperately begged and pleaded to have the thorn in his side removed (vs. 8). But God didn’t reach down and instantly pluck out Paul’s thorn. Instead, He gave Paul a promise: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (vs. 9). God does not intend us to be weak, but when we are weak, we are made strong through Him.

I tried fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and, sadly, calorie-free. Nothing worked. Then one day I figured out what I was doing wrong—I was also eating Christ-free.

I learned that my problem was more than carrying around a few extra pounds. I had a spiritual problem, and until I remedied that, committing to any health plan would be useless. I discovered that I didn’t need to go on a diet; I needed to go on a journey—a spiritual one. A journey that offers freedom, not deprivation. A journey full of grace instead of condemnation.

Here’s what I know about desperate situations: they can take us away from God or they can lead us to have greater dependence on Him. He knows our shortcomings and empathizes with our weakness, but we also have to realize that our weaknesses make room for His power. Knowing this truth is the key to liberty and freedom from our bondage, strongholds, and addictions (John 8:32).

I don’t know what you struggle with today, but I want you to remember God gives us the same promise today as He gave Paul—He will make us strong when we are weak. Time and time again, I have seen God can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him.

No matter how many foolish things I’ve done, or how many times I have failed, He loves me. The same goes for you. He will still use us in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine. Honestly, I believe He will, and I believe, if you look around, you’ll recognize that He is already at work in your life.

I’m not a dietician or a Bible scholar, and I don’t have it all figured out. I am absolutely a work in progress in many areas. This is one of them. I still eat things I shouldn’t, but now I do so without letting the voice of condemnation speak louder than the voice of freedom. Nothing can keep God’s power from me, and nothing can separate me from His love. Nothing. Not even a bag of Oreos.

Published in Faith and Freedom, EA Books Publishing 2018

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