And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Running from God

I forgot how crummy it feels to run from God. That’s what I was doing earlier this week. It wasn’t anything extreme—no drugs, no alcohol, not even much ice cream—in fact, if you lived with me, you wouldn’t have known I was running. But I was.

What did it look like? Well, on the inside it looked like this—incredible boredom, subdued grief, mild panic, and extreme restlessness. On the outside it looked like a woman complaining and making jokes about how bored she was but not doing anything to get unbored.

Actually, that’s not quite true. I did try a few things. I wandered around the house. I wandered around the yard. I even read a good book and watched the Survivor Finale on the internet. I also called a few friends and told them how bored I was.

What I didn’t do was go to God for the help I needed to cope with life. Instead, I just coasted through the days trying not to think—trying to cover up my emotions with recreational activities. And it didn’t work.

I was miserable. Yes, it was a functioning kind of miserable, but miserable just the same. How much better life is when I go to God for help as soon as I need that help! You know why I didn’t go? Because I didn’t want to think about it.

You see, a lot has happened the last couple weeks. First I gave some talks on emotional eating at the local hospital (a scary experience); then I had to wait three days to go back for further evaluation after a suspicious mammogram (everything turned out okay), and then we had a graduation party for our second son (who will be going to college in the fall) with all the accompanying “life with the kids has been so great—I can’t believe they’re all leaving” emotions.

In the midst of all that my oldest son left for a three month adventure in Europe and the Middle East, traveling alone, and sleeping who knows where (it’s a budget trip).

All those old feelings of being sad about the kids leaving and worrying about their welfare came back to haunt me—but instead of dealing with my emotions—renewing my mind and seeing the situation from God’s point of view, I just tried not to think about it.

Do you ever do this? Life is nagging at you, but you don’t want to deal with it? You’d rather just escape? Well, I can tell you from experience this is a bad idea—you can’t escape!

I love living at peace. I love making God’s priorities, my priorities. I love trusting in His sovereign nature and even submitting to His will. But none of these things happen by chance.

If my focus is on escaping life or even on making life so great I don’t want to escape it, I’m not going to live a peaceful life—because I can’t find peace without God.

I did find peace eventually. The third day of my run, I submitted to God. I prayed with thanksgiving. I truth journaled. I asked myself, “How am I seeing these situations in life? How does God see these same situations?” What I did was get God’s perspective on my life. And when I got His perspective, I also received His peace and joy.

We can’t create the perfect life. We can’t control life. We can’t guarantee our kids will always make wise decisions (or us, either, for that matter). But we can trust in God. We can rely on His goodness. We can recognize His sovereignty. We can go to Him with our concerns.

I’m through running—at least for this week. My goal is to be through running for good, but I’m not na├»ve enough to think I’ll never stumble again. So much of Christianity is learning how to live for God in each new situation that comes up. It just seems like I've had a lot of new situations lately.

I'm going to keep pressing on, though. I don't want to be a mom who worries. I don't want to be a woman who's afraid to do things that make her uncomfortable. I don't want to be a person who feels like life has to be exciting all the time. What I want to be is a woman who loves God and lives in His presence all the time.

Even when it's hard.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Working on the Emotions

According to a 7/19/06 ABC news report, about 140,000 people have weight-loss surgery each year, and it's estimated that somewhere between 5 and 30 percent of them pick up new addictive behaviors afterward.

That was three years ago. I can only guess that the numbers have gone up.

This underscores for me the importance of not just working on the lies that make us eat, but also working on the lies that are causing our negative emotions in the first place. If we don’t go to God with those negative emotions, we’ll have to do something else with them—and that something else could very well lead to another addiction.

Let’s look at this issue from the standpoint of just one emotion. Take the emotion of anger—do you ever feel annoyed with your friends or family members? Is there anyone at church or work that really gets on your nerves? How do you respond in these situations?

Here are some possible responses:

1) Eat.
2) Truth journal so you don’t eat.
3) Withdraw—ignore them or get out of the relationship.
4) Try to be nice even though you’re silently resenting them.
5) Get your feelings out by talking to a friend or writing in a journal.
6) Try to change them. Maybe if you say the right thing, they’ll see the light and change.
7) Feel sorry for yourself.
8) Yell at them.
9) Learn to see them through God’s eyes, then accept, forgive, and love.

Of course, we all know the right response—but it’s certainly not the natural response, is it? We would really have to spend some time bringing our thoughts captive to the truth if we wanted to respond with that last option. That option, though, is the only option that will bring peace (unless of course the other person is willing and able to change, which doesn’t usually happen).

Now you might think that the second option is a good option also. I agree—it’s a good option—but if that’s all you do, it can be a dangerous option. Why? Because those negative emotions still need to be released. If you only work on not eating and don’t work on getting rid of the anger, you’ll be in danger of turning to another escape to get rid of those negative emotions.

Women often tell me that Freedom from Emotional Eating is just as much about regular life as it is about eating. That’s because it’s regular life that makes us eat. If we don’t learn how to deal with our problems the way God wants us to, those emotions will still be there in need of an outlet. If we don’t eat, what will we do?

So much of the Christian walk is about dying to our “rights” and being willing to do anything for God. Because we’re so entrenched in the world’s way of thinking, it’s hard for us to do that without first taking the time to carry our thoughts captive to the truth.

I find that when I take the time to line my thoughts up with God’s thoughts, it helps me submit to Him—and submitting to Him always brings peace.

And peace is one of those emotions that doesn’t make me feel like eating.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hi everyone, I was having my quiet time this morning and came across this great Bible verse. It's Jeremiah 23:29.

"Is not My word like fire?" declares the Lord, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock?"

God's Word is perfect for breaking down strongholds. I thought this would be another good verse for us to pray through!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Lies That Precede Special Events

Whenever I feel like I have to be skinny I gain weight. Something about the dilemma of trying to meet the world’s expectations for my body just makes me want to eat.

Have you ever felt that way? You have a special event you’re planning to go to, and you feel like you just have to lose a few pounds before then? I haven’t truth journaled much for these kinds of things, but I need to, because they honestly always make me gain weight.

Today I want to look at the lies that make me feel like I have to be skinny for certain things. I want to prepare myself for those events ahead of time, so I don’t get swept into the idea that who I am on the outside is more important than who I am on the inside. Care to join me?

The Lies That Precede Special Events

1. I need to lose x pounds before this event.

Truth: This is actually a bad time for me to try to lose weight. It will feed into the idea that I have to be skinny for this event. Knowing my track record, the pressure will probably make me gain weight instead. (Note: This is true for me, but it might not be true for you—I imagine each of us is different in this regard.)

2. I have to be skinny for this event.

Truth: Any time I say, “I have to be” or “I have to have,” I’m in danger of making that “have to” an idol. God wants to be the only “have to” in my life. It’s presumptuous of me to say I have to live up to someone else’s standards (even if that someone else is me). I need to forget Hollywood’s take on life and embrace God’s view of life. If I’m going to work on something before the event, my character might be a better choice! (Something about this truth is making me want to grab some pom-poms and start cheering.)

3. If I’m x number of pounds I’m skinny, but if I’m y number of pounds I’m fat.

Truth: X and Y change throughout life. The number on the scale I now see as “fat” looked skinny to me a year ago. Weight is relative. I need to remember that.

4. If I’m not skinny, people will condemn me.

Truth: I can't change how others see me, but I can change how much I let it affect me. I'll have to be careful to steep myself in the Word before this event, so I see myself through God's eyes and not the eyes of others. Plus I'll need to be careful to love those who condemn me, and not condemn them back.

5. It will be terrible if I’m not skinny.

Truth: It will be life if I’m not skinny. After all, haven’t I been “not skinny” at these events before? It’s not the end of the world if I’m not skinny!

6. It will be embarrassing if I’m not skinny.

Truth: It will be an opportunity to grow if I’m not skinny. If I take my embarrassment and go to God with it and use it as an indicator that I’m not seeing life through His eyes, it can spur me on to greater intimacy with God as I work on lining up my thoughts up with His.

7. I might as well keep eating, since I’ll never be able to lose weight by then (this is said, of course, after the diet has failed a few times).

Truth: If my goal is to break free from the stronghold of emotional eating (and possibly another stronghold of focusing too much on appearance), I might as well use this event as an opportunity to carry my thoughts captive to the truth. This whole experience can draw me closer to God as I work on all these thoughts and emotions that are racing through my mind. I need to remember—the goal isn’t to be skinny. The goal is to learn how to live life the way He wants me to live it.

I don’t know about you, but this is making me want to put on a swimsuit and go to the beach! Breaking free from the need to look good all the time is just as important as breaking free from the need to eat all the time.

Why don’t we make a choice today to view ourselves through the eyes of God and not the eyes of the world?