It almost started all over again. I was at the gym for a weigh-in this week, and I weighed in alright. Each measurement that sized me up screamed the same condemning message in my ear: Christy, you are a tub-o-lard and that is all you will ever be.
In the following goal-planning session, the coach asked me how I would achieve my weight loss goals. Of course, I told her, ”I will have to be disciplined and make good choices!” But inside my cynical mind, I thought Christy, you will be FAT forever. It doesn’t matter what you do.
In that moment, a familiar spiritual battle exploded in my head. It’s one I’ve been fighting ever since I realized I’m not a super model and I wouldn’t ever measure up—literally—to our culture’s standard of beauty. I was doing okay for a while, until being declared “officially obese” at that weigh-in. My spirit was thrown right back into the old struggle with food.
I wanted to stop eating. I wanted to never put another bite of food into my fat face.
Or maybe I wanted to stuff my face. What’s the difference if I’m already fat anyway? I might as well eat whatever I want!
Flashback to my senior year of high school, when the struggle hit an all-time high. I truly believed I was fat and ugly, and I had plenty of external testimonies to support that opinion—boys called me names all the time. I knew I would never win when compared to other girls. And that’s when it all began…
I started copying the eating habits of one of my friends. She was tiny. I watched her eat, or actually, not eat. I starved myself as much as I could tolerate. I would take one, maybe two bites of a meal and then push the plate away. “I’m full,” I’d say. But I was lying. COMPLETELY LYING. I was, as they say, a BIG FAT LIAR.
I wasn’t full. I was starving, and not just for food.
My Frenemy, Food
I just wanted acceptance. And fulfillment. But instead, I became frenemies with food. I liked to eat. I never met a chocolate bar who called me fat, ugly, or a nerd. I’d never have to worry if my fries would say, “You’re nice, but I could never go out with you. Let’s just be friends.”
So the battle between the two extremes was born. I wanted to be thin and feel good about myself, and you have to eat right to achieve that. But I also wanted to just feel good—like when you chase a warm, fresh, chocolate-chip cookie with ice-cold milk.
But the good feeling of eating that cookie (or ten) didn’t last. The guilt would set in and then I’d starve myself. I actually enjoyed hearing “Is that all you’re going to eat?” and “You don’t need to lose any weight!” I fed on those comments, until I couldn’t take the hunger anymore, and then I’d binge.
Eventually I became angry at food, because of what it had made me do and become. It was all food’s fault. But when I tried to control it, it didn’t really look much different than before. It was just a new game with new semantics, but the same horrible relationship.
Jesus > Food
There in the gym, weighed in and measured up, oh, how tempted I was to be that girl again. But I knew I couldn’t; that wasn’t what God had for me. How could I return to the bondage when He already freed me of it?
My brain had to reboot to think right. The Word of God is always the final authority, so I had to draw my right thinking from there. So I started with what the Bible had to say about eating:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
It’s so simple, but so helpful. There are so many things we do in life—eat, drink, work, play—the list goes on and on. But any and ALL things should be done “to the glory of God,” not the glory of Christy.
Self-glorification was totally at the root of my food issues. When I would either starve or binge, I was ultimately showing how important my thoughts, my desires, and my words were to me. God was nowhere near that equation.
At that weigh-in moment, I had to snap out of that fleshly urge to glorify myself. I had to choose to deny my flesh and refuse to listen to the voice of the girl I once was—the one looking for love in a self-destructive relationship with food. It’s God’s Word I should be listening to, not mine.
Spirit-filled, not Food-filled
But the bottom line is that if God lets me live another day, food will have to be involved at some point. God made food—food is NOT the enemy. The answer is simple. I have to fight.
I have to fight another day, every day. I can NEVER lay my weapons down.
The Apostle Paul—a man who loved God and served Him vigorously—said it well:
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16-18).
I must be led by the Spirit of God in order to win the battle. And in order to have a Spirit-filled life, I must have a word-filled life. It doesn’t matter what I think when it is all said and done. Fat or thin is inconsequential.
The only measuring stick that matters is the Word of God. The only thing that drags me out of the pit of sinful eating is knowing that God’s love far exceeds any approval I seek here on this earth—even my own approval of myself.
As for food? Well, food cannot satisfy my deepest hunger pangs for love. Food doesn’t last. It gets consumed and runs out and rots. But God’s Word is EVERLASTING. Christ’s atoning work on the cross is an iron-clad contract of love that secures me no matter how badly I have messed up. And no amount of food can tell me otherwise.