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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Emotional Eating and 1 John 2

Summer’s here, and I’m afraid I haven’t been blogging much. Of course, you always worry about emotional eating bloggers who stop blogging. “Why aren’t they writing?” you think. Have they gone off the wagon? Are they eating like crazy and feeling too guilty to write? Will they ever start writing again?

Well, the answer is no, I’m not eating like crazy. I’m doing something much less fun—I’m writing like crazy on my new Bible study. Of course, crazy for me only means about three hours a day, four days a week. But when you factor in procrastination and interruptions it seems like about 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Anyway, I was studying 1 John 2:15-17 this week and couldn’t help but notice how much it ties in with our emotional eating struggles. Here’s what it says:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away and also it’s lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

It may not seem like it ties in at first glance, but look again. I think we get caught up in all three of the “loves” mentioned in this passage when it comes to our weight and eating issues. Let’s look at them one at a time:

Lust of the flesh: We get caught in this trap when we turn to food to satisfy our emotional needs and when we love the food itself so much we feel like we just have to have it.

Lust of the eyes: This happens when we see all those skinny, beautiful movie stars and think we have to have bodies like they do. (It also happens in restaurants when we see the person at the next table eating a gorgeous piece of cake right in front of us.)

Pride of life: When we feel like we have to lose weight to impress others, gain their approval, or live up to expectations (theirs or ours), we’re flirting with the pride of life.

As I studied the passage further, I realized two more things:

1. You can never get enough of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, or the boastful pride of life to be satisfied if you’re turning to them to satisfy emotional needs. You’ll always want more.

Lust of the flesh: Think of it. Do you ever have enough ice cream to be satisfied if you’re turning to ice cream to make you happy? Do you ever get enough chips if you’re turning to chips for comfort? Do you ever have enough graham crackers if you’re turning to graham crackers to avoid writing your Bible study? (Oh, wait a minute, that’s the question I’m supposed to be asking myself!)

Lust of the eyes: It’s natural for us to want to look like the skinny people we see out there, but when we feel like we have to look like them, we’re moving into lust of the eyes territory. Losing weight is a lot like eating. If we’re doing it to satisfy our emotional needs (to be happy, to feel confident, etc.), we’ll never lose enough to be happy. We’ll always be thinking, “If only I could lose a few more pounds . . .”

Pride of life: If we feel like we need to lose weight to be acceptable or admired,we'll never reach the point where we're satisfied with our weight. Why? Because in this country, skinnier is better—and we can always do just a little bit “better.” This is the type of thinking that leads to anorexia.

2. There will always be consequences when you turn to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life for happiness.

Lust of the flesh: It’s pretty easy to see the consequences here—if we eat too much we gain weight!

Lust of the eyes: This might lead to an obsession with working out and dieting or a fixation on the scale. Often the biggest consequences are emotional: discontentment, envy, discouragement, depression, and hopelessness.

Pride of life: Not only do you have the emotional consequences of insecurity, but there’s also the tendency to isolate one’s self. If we feel like others will judge and reject us because we’re overweight, we won’t want to reach out to them.

I thought it was eye-opening to see that we'll never be satisfied with food or weight loss if we're placing too much importance on them (which we tend to do). Another thing that struck me was the importance of seeing not just food from God's point of view, but this whole issue from His point of view.

What we need to remember is that life is about loving God and others, not about looking good and doing what we feel like doing. Let’s see how that applies to each of these “loves.”

Lust of the flesh: My purpose in eating shouldn’t be to indulge myself but to glorify God. I need to ask myself, “Am I honoring God by eating this food, or am I indulging the flesh?” If I were struggling with anorexia I would ask, “Am I honoring God by not eating this food, or am I putting my need to be skinny (or whatever the driving force is) above Him?”

Lust of the eyes: The bottom line here is this: LIFE IS NOT ABOUT LOOKING GOOD AND BEING SKINNY! Every time I step on the scale and beat myself up because I gained two pounds, I need to shout those words to myself. Every time I get insecure because of the way I look I need to shout those words to myself. Every time you do your morning beauty routine or work out and skip your time with God, you need to shout those words to yourself! (I left myself out of that one because I rarely do the morning workout or beauty routine anyway – I know I said I did the workout in my Bible study, but I’m afraid that was a short-lived phase of my life!)

Pride of Life: My main purpose for trying to control my eating should be to overcome the stronghold of emotional eating—not fit into a society obsessed with looks. Every time I feel like I’m not good enough, and that I need to make a desperate attempt to lose weight so I can be good enough, I need to tell myself, “God loves me just as I am. I don’t need to lose weight to be acceptable. I just need to keep working on this stronghold."

I guess the bottom line is I need to seek the approval of God and not men in everything I do. Live my life for Him, and glorify Him in everything I do.

Which means I need to stop eating graham crackers just because I can't figure out how to write my Bible study.

P.S. The other thing I've been doing lately is hiking with my husband and kids. The picture at the top of this blog was taken on one of our hikes last week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting Back on Track

Writing is so hard I deserve another granola bar. Besides, Mischief (my cat) is sitting in my chair (where I would conceivably have another quiet time instead of eating the granola bar), and I’ve wasted the whole day again. The least I can do is have a little treat.

Do you ever feel a little silly when you truth journal? Yes, these are your thoughts, but you know they’re immature before you even write them down? Well, you can probably see I’m speaking from my own experience. I actually wrote that entry while I was eating the granola bar five minutes ago. Pathetic, isn’t it?

Normally, I stick to my boundaries well enough that I don’t take the time to truth journal when I break them, but because I’ve been breaking them for three or four days now, I decided I better go back to truth journaling. The combination of writing a new Bible study along with still dealing with the things in my last post is making me want to eat.

There’s still a part of me that says, “Oh, I’ll just be more careful tomorrow,” or “Maybe I need to change my boundaries.” But the truth of the matter is that what I really need to do is bring my thoughts captive to the truth.

So here goes:

Beliefs: 1. Writing is so hard I deserve another granola bar. 2. Besides, Mischief (my cat) is sitting in my chair (where I would conceivably have another quiet time instead of eating the granola bar), and 3. I’ve wasted the whole day again. 4. The least I can do is have a little treat.

Truths: 1. Writing should be a joyful act of worship—something I give to God, and I’ve lost sight of that. Forgive me, Lord. I need to expect that some days will be easy, and some days will be difficult, and some days I’ll write the whole day with nothing concrete to show for it. I need to accept the fact that writing isn’t an efficient occupation and do it anyway. 2. Mischief would be perfectly happy on my lap, or I could go outside for my quiet time. 3. I haven’t accomplished much, but that wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m imperfect, and life is imperfect. Some days will be like this. 4. The best I can do is see this day from God’s point of view so I can experience peace. I’d rather have the best than the least.

Wow. I had no idea all those things were going on inside of me until I started to truth journal. I thought this was going to be a simple blog about getting back on track after a few days of eating outside the boundaries, and in the name of efficiency I thought I’d write down the truths while I was writing the blog.

Instead, I spent ten or fifteen minutes on my first lie, and another ten minutes on the third lie. God obviously had some things to say to me about my attitude.

Did you notice that God used the thoughts that were at the top of my head making me want to eat to show me what I really needed to work on? As I looked at my thoughts through His eyes, I began to see things differently. His peace began to steal into my heart once again.

Do you see what bringing your thoughts captive to Christ does? It changes the things in you that need to change. It gives you peace. It did both of those for me just now. I often find—no, I take that back—I usually find that truth journaling is a time of intimate fellowship with God.

And you know what? It’s the only type of writing I do that’s always worth it.