Throughout my twenties and thirties, I based my identity on a number on the bathroom scales. It affected every choice I made from where I would go, what I would do, and who I spent time with. I tried a variation of every diet/weight loss plan available, many of them multiple times. If I had limited success, I would start emerging from The Pit just a little, only to quickly scurry back after yet another sugar binge. Sugar is not a one-night stand affair. It is a fatal attraction.
In my early thirties, I came back to Jesus. Soon after, I had my first taste of true deliverance. I had been a smoker for many years, and I began to feel a little convicted about the habit. I felt as though it would be a bad witness to my Christian walk, a mindset that was probably a throwback from my childhood where smoking was a sin, along with drinking, but apparently not gluttony.
To be clear…I don’t believe smoking will send you to Hell. You might exit earth for Heaven quicker and more painfully than you’d planned, but a smoker with a heart toward Christ is no worse than a glutton with a heart toward Christ. I don’t drink alcohol. I never was much of a drinker, even when I was “in the world.” I believe that you open more doors than you realize if you are trying to live for Christ and drink alcohol. That’s between you and God. If you are seeking Him, He will guide you on that.
But I digress.
I began to pray about my nicotine addiction. I really liked to smoke, just about as much as I liked chocolate chip cookies! I would sit outside on my back porch smoking and reading my Bible. My prayer wasn’t, “Lord, help me quit smoking.” Or “Take this from me.” It was, “Lord, please give me a desire to quit smoking because I don’t want to quit. I like it!”
During those days, I would fast a day or two out of the month. (Something I now need to do more of!) On days I fasted, I would also not smoke. Keep in mind, I really, really enjoyed smoking! One Sunday evening in preparation for my Monday fast, I smoked all my cigarettes so there would be none to tempt me for my Monday fast. My plan was Tuesday on my way to work to stop and get a pack. But, come Tuesday morning, I didn’t want a cigarette. That booger of addiction was gone! I didn’t stop on the way to work, and I have never wanted one again.
Next on my personal prayer list: Food addiction. But my love/hate obsession was food was not as simple as a nicotine addiction. My entire life was deeply entwined around food.
The struggle isn’t a pretty story.
But God is faithful.
I began desperately seeking God’s help to lose weight. Without realizing it, I kept my focus on my weight, not my sin. I did mention every now and then to God that I knew gluttony was a sin and displeasing to Him, like He wasn’t aware of it, but in my heart, I wanted to lose weight. I guess I thought that would help Him see how badly I needed Him to fix me. All I was managing to do was fail at yet another diet. Call it what you will…diet, change, getting healthy, new way of life…they all had one thing in common: it was based on the food and not my heart. What I was doing was simply changing the obsession of how much more can I eat today to the obsession of counting calories, fat grams, carbs, and if I was really on a roll, exercise reps.
That’s not freedom.
That was me barely hanging on most days.
All the while, I was begging God for freedom. I would confess my gluttony, ask forgiveness, and return to overeating. Way. Over. Eating. I would condemn myself, hate myself, and then repeat the process all over again. I felt powerless to stop. I was wallowing in self-pity, which I didn’t realize until later, and drowning in hopelessness, discouragement, and despair.