I have a confession to make. I’m fat. I really ought to lose a few, and by “a few” I mean rather a lot more than a few. I have been sort of maybe trying to lose weight for like, a year now, and I’m the exact same size as I was when I sort of maybe started trying. (This could be worse. I could be heavier than when I started.)
I have to tell you, my motivation to lose weight is rather low. It’s not because I think it’s too hard to lose weight (I’ve done it before – I can do it again) or that I don’t have a good idea of the benefits (I’ve done it before, I know how great it feels inside and out).
The main reason I don’t feel like doing the simple and disciplined work of losing weight is that I no longer feel as if my worth or value or lovableness is tied to my size. I used to think that I would be a more respectable person if I was thinner. But now I don’t think people think any differently of me because I am or am not a tidy size 6. I don’t think my husband loves me any more when I am slim than when I am chubby. I don’t think that God loves me any more or any less now than He ever has. If I think that His love is different, it’s all in my head.
This doesn’t mean that I think I should just “let myself go” which is just a way of saying a person should abandon all discipline and self-respect and do whatever the bleep they please. In fact, I eat much healthier (ample protein, tons of veggies, minimally processed) than I did at my lowest weight. I am more healthy in general, getting sick less often and less severely, and I have reduced mood swings, since I now know more about preventing low blood sugar with protein.
That said, I still have a problem, and little motivation. What should the motivation be, if not to impress my peers, my husband, or my God?
The motivation should be tied to the problem, which isn’t the weight. The weight is just a symptom of the actual problem, which is gluttony. ”Gluttony: habitual greed or excess in eating.” According to Google. The fact is, if you continually overeat, even healthy, whole foods, you will gain weight, or at the very least, you will not lose weight. Gluttony is the absence of self-control when in the presence of food. Any person, no matter how thin or fat, can have a problem with gluttony, but some “lucky” people escape this outward declaration of sin by being naturally inclined toward thinness. I happen to be “unlucky”, as I already mentioned.
How do I fix this problem? I have utilized many methods of weight loss over the years, and I have enjoyed some more than others. For example, I do not enjoy counting calories. It tends to make me feel distracted and grumpy. My fastest weight loss happened one summer after reading a really good book on moderation. My easiest weight loss happened during a period of listening closely to the Holy Spirit – I just stopped eating whenever I thought He might be telling me to. I combined that with a thorough eradication of sugar from my diet, but otherwise, I don’t recall making any changes to what I was eating, only quantity was monitored. One time I lost nearly 20 pounds because I was feeling sick all the time, so I cut out sugar, pork, all processed foods, all dairy (I’m lactose intolerant) and all non-vegetable sauces. I felt great, but it was hard to sustain.
For having lost that much weight, you’d think I’d be skinny, but as soon as I let down my guard, I just spend all my time gaining weight. But, if you factor 3 pregnancies into that time, and a job that was away from home (can anyone say “fast food”?) you’ll see that really, that’s exactly what I’ve done. In a very slow, and generally moderate way, I have gained weight my whole life.
So I was asking the Holy Spirit what I should do to get myself back in hand. I was longing for the days when I wasn’t feeding others 5 times a day (it’s easier to lose weight if you don’t have so gosh darned much food in the house to begin with) and I was wishing for the days when I could push all my kids in the stroller and go for an hour-long walk. But wishful thinking doesn’t help things at all, so I wondered how I could lose like in the old days, when I just listened to that still, small voice and stopped before it was too late. Why is it that I don’t listen to the Voice anymore?
This is the real problem. The problem that causes the weight problem. I stopped listening. Not entirely, mind you, just about this thing. I wondered what I should do to move myself back into “that place” of submission to God and attentive listening and obedience. I wondered why God felt more distant than in those days. I remembered one of my favorite sayings about a Christian’s distance from God after they’ve been saved. ”It’s all in your head.”
What does that mean? Jesus died for me for real. His Spirit came to live in me after I confessed my sin and told Him I couldn’t/didn’t want to do this alone any more. He actually put His own self- His life- in me as a guarantee of my future life forever with Him. It means He couldn’t be any closer to me than He already is. Let that sink in for a minute. If you are saved, Jesus is already as close to you as He will ever be. In a video series called “The Truth Project” Dr Del Tackett explains that through the Holy Spirit we come into full unity with God the Father and God the Son. The same closeness they experience with one another is made accessible to us through the Holy Spirit taking up residence in us. He illustrated this with 3 overlapping circles, one with “God” written in it, one labeled “Jesus”, and one labeled both “Holy Spirit in Me”. I love that illustration…
It doesn’t mean that we know everything there is to know about God now, or that Paul’s words to the Corinthians were untrue, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:12) But it does mean that when I feel ashamed because I mess up all the time, and when I think that if I try to “be better” to regain some of the “thing” (righteousness?) I had before and which I feel the lack of now, it means that this attempt at righting the broken bond that Jesus already righted is all in my head, and can’t, no matter how hard I try, actually change the status of my relationship with Jesus. I’m included even if I do wrongly. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Eph 2:8-9 Works don’t save me, or right the wrongs I’ve done – Jesus alone has that power.
My actions can change a whole lot of other things though, including making it possible for me to see God more clearly, or in this case, hear Him. My pastor recently preached on 2 Peter and pointed out that if we don’t make “every effort” (that could read “costly addition”- it may hurt a little or a lot) to walk within a set of parameters, we’ll eventually go blind to the God who is so near. The irony of this scenario is that in order to see God, one must trust Him first. Then, only after the obedience is carried out, will the individual be able to see that He is good and trustworthy to begin with. Oh, the paradox!
Furthermore, J. Warner Wallace, points out, in his book “Cold-Case Christianity”, that there is a difference between belief that and belief in. He indicates this difference by telling a story of a police officer who was being shot at by a lawbreaker, and knowing the offender would be able to shoot first, the officer trusted his bulletproof vest to protect him. He formerly had belief that his vest could save him, but until that point he’d never put his trust in his vest to save him. The same thing happens all over the place. We easily believe God wants to help good people, but we fail to recognize that He’s willingly given all of His power to help (one Biblical term for the Holy Spirit is “Helper” or “Life-saver”) to all people who ask for it.
A pastor I heard on the radio (Chip Ingram? I’m not sure…) says that the Holy Spirit has 3 ways He can interact with people. One way is with, as when a person is thinking about becoming a Christian and is feeling constantly dogged by “a feeling” or “an idea” that God is near and trying to get his or her attention. A second way is in, as when a person decides to become a Christian and the Holy Spirit comes to live in that person. The third way is on, as when the Apostles were emboldened on the day of Pentecost and spoke tongues and did miracles, etc. The Holy Spirit may or may not choose to fall on me, and make me strong like Samson, but since He is in me, I am empowered to do more than I otherwise could. If I deny that I have the power of the Holy Spirit, I am mistaken, and I choose to live for my own whims, with “I’m not strong enough” as my excuse, instead of doing the hard work of self-control and discipline hand-in-hand with the Spirit.
How does this help my present situation? It gives me time to practice holiness because I rest on Christ to save me. It also gives me freedom to make mistakes in the journey. And it motivates me, because I am loved, to love me also and take care of my body. The Holy Spirit lives in this little self, so it also motivates me to keep God’s house in good working order. Included in the Holy Spirit’s residency is His power and self-control too, so I’m fully equipped to be self-controlled. He provides me with what I need; if I’m willing to trust that God’s commands are good and obey them, I will have all the strength I need to be obedient. It also helps when I remember that God’s commands are not always fun (every effort, costly addition) but they are always for my benefit now and in the future, because He is good.
Will this result in improved moderation? Will this help me lose 40-50 lbs? I don’t know. But I do know that I am fully accepted no matter what, and I am fully equipped with God’s power to do good works. Now it’s my turn to take what the good Lord gave me, and do something positive with it. Pray for me. That whole “costly addition” is the pivot around which my success rotates, and, as stated, it’s costly.
Is there anything that God is asking you to do that you have been putting off because of the difficulty or because you simply don’t think you have what it takes? Let me know and I will pray for you.