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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re enjoying your friends and family this Christmas – and not eating too many Christmas cookies while you enjoy them! I just wanted to let you know I’ve set up my new blog and should be posting on it beginning mid to late January.

The new blog will be called Transformed by Trials, and the first trial I’ll be writing about will be insecurity. I’m hoping to do some video teaching too if I can figure out the technology to do that.

It's taken longer than I thought to get it going because all of my writing efforts are still being put into the new Bible study I'm writing and teaching. But I think I'll have most of that written by sometime in January, so I'll be able to start working on the blog.

In the meantime I thought I'd re-post some of my old entries from this blog. Hope to see see you soon at the new blog!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Have I ever mentioned that I'm a procrastinator? I hate to even look at the date of my last blog post. It looks like it was more than five months ago. You may have been wondering, where is Barb these days? Well, Barb is at home, alive and well, but not writing blog posts!

I wasn't planning to take a break. If I had planned it, I would have told everyone. Unfortunately, I just couldn't think of anything to write, and I kept putting it off and putting it off until five months went by without writing anything.

Then last night I was talking with one of my kids about the new Bible study I was writing. We were discussing the coping techniques we use with different trials, and I asked him if he could think of any coping techniques I left out of my new study. He said, "How about ignoring the problem?" Bingo.

That's one of my biggest coping techniques, and it wasn't even in the book! My trial was "what to write for the blog." And instead of dealing with the issue - either thinking of something to write or ending the blog, I just ignored the trial. For five months.

So, now I'm back, and I apologize for my absence with no words of good-bye or explanation. The bigger reason I haven't been writing is that I've been putting all my efforts into writing and teaching a new Bible study on worry, insecurity, and anger. I've taught it to women and teenage girls now, and my next project is to see if it works for college and career age guys and girls.

What I'd like to do is start a more general blog, not just emotional eating, but other issues, as well. I'm not sure when I'll get that up and running but hopefully sometime in the next month. I'll post a blog entry here when I have it ready to go.

I was also thinking it might be helpful to make a favorites label on this blog which would include a set of posts that could help women who are exploring the idea of renewing their minds in the area of food - maybe some basic posts to get them started on it. If anyone has any ideas of posts that would be helpful, would you mind e-mailing me at or just posting a comment here? (At least if there is anyone out there still checking my blog after five months absence!)

I wish I could see all of you in real life and visit with you face-to-face. But of course, I can't. I pray that God is keeping you safe in the comfort of His arms and that you are finding strength in His Word.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Freedom is a process

It took about seven months of truth journaling for eating before I felt a tenuous freedom. I posted my first freedom entry a couple of months ago. What I've found since I wrote that entry almost four years ago is that freedom is more of an ongoing process than a one time now-I've-accomplished-it-and-I-can-relax sort of event.

Yes, it gets much easier to follow boundaries. Yes, I'm far more controlled than I used to be. Yes, I no longer worry about going back to my old ways. But no, I'm not completely free of the desire to eat for non-hunger reasons.

I still have those old desires at times. In fact, even as I write this I'm sad I've already had breakfast, because I would much rather go have something to eat than go back to my writing which is what I plan to do next.

So even though the desire to eat decreases, it never completely goes away - at least it hasn't for me, not permanently, anyway. What happens is that you develop the habit of going to God for help with the problem. You gain confidence that the truth will set you free, and because you're confident, that's where you go for help when you are tempted to go back to your old ways.

Here are a few more journal entries I made after I was feeling relatively free:

Day 219 - 10/4/06

I feel like food no longer controls me. It seems like I could maintain my weight now without a lot of struggle - yet I don't know yet about losing weight. I seem to be in a "limited control" situation and am cautiously optimistic. Lately, I have felt like I may be able to go back to sweets if I stick to meal times.

Day 241 - 10/26/06

I'm trying to think of my problem areas in eating right now, and I can't think of any. My lingering reasons for overeating are: 1) stress and feeling overwhelmed 2) procrastination 3) The "I deserve it" lie 4) Fear of failure (with overeating).


It's interesting to read old journal entries to see how God continues to work. My only lingering reason for overeating now is procrastination (that and unexpected good things available to eat). Unfortunately, I still haven't developed the habit of going to God first when faced with things I don't want to do. When I do, I'll probably lose a few pounds.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Instant Success?

Wouldn’t you love to have instant success in the area of emotional eating and weight loss? To lose all of your weight in just a few months without suffering and without ever once breaking your boundaries or feeling like a failure?

That would be so nice, but also so unlikely.

The fact is, we often have to fail over and over again before we get really good at something. And it’s the same with emotional eating. Even now after almost four years of being free from emotional eating, I still have times when I have to go back to the drawing board and start truth journaling again so I don’t go back to my old ways. That doesn’t mean I’m back in bondage whenever that happens. It just means I need to truth journal so I don’t go back into bondage.

My confidence isn’t in my success. My confidence is in God who sets me free and in a Bible that works. The truth sets me free. I just need to go back to it and apply it every time I fail. That’s what I was reminding myself of in this next truth journal entry.

Day 146 – 7/23/06

I’m feeling defeated today. I’ve been trying to change myself by will power again, not with the truth. Plus I’ve been putting perfectionist standards on myself. Condemning myself when I fail.

This is a stronghold – it requires spiritual weapons of prayer and carrying my thought captive. Getting up and using will power and positive attitude is not going to cut it!

I need to go back to journaling when I eat for a non-hunger or non-meal reason. Back to the basics. Plus meditate on Scripture. Remember, I can’t do it by getting up and starting anew. Only the truth will change me.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Appearance and Emotional Eating

I've often wondered if it's possible to break free from emotional eating if we're still worshiping the idol of appearance. I think it's often that need to look perfect that drives us to eat like crazy when we've been doing well for quite awhile and then all of a sudden start regularly breaking our boundaries.

We fear gaining all that weight back, and the fear drives us to eat because, and here's the problem, life will be terrible if we gain all our weight back. If we think life will be terrible just because we weigh more than we want to weigh, we're giving way too much power to appearance. And if you think about it, way too much power to living up to the expectations of others.

Breaking free from worries about appearance was just as big an issue for me as breaking free from emotional eating. Here are a few of my old journal entries that dealt with this issue.

Day 68 - 5/6/06

I am finally losing a little weight. I actually wonder if God kept my weight up when I was struggling so that I wouldn't give up the struggle too soon just because I was losing weight i.e. He wanted me to keep dealing with the issues, including the issue of failure, before I experienced weight loss.

And He has helped me with failure. If my goal is to be submitted to God in my eating then I shouldn't beat myself up when I fail (because God doesn't). Of course, I'm going to fail. This is an area of struggle for me. I don't have brute self-control.

On the other hand, if my goal is to have the perfect body, I will beat myself up - because major eating will really hurt that goal.

Day 98 - 6/5/10

Food - God - Appearance. Which will I allow to control me? Food is an idol when I say I have to eat certain things to be happy. Appearance is an idol when I say I have to be at a certain weight to be acceptable. And one idol fights against the other.

They're at cross-purposes with one another, a perfect situation to cause discouragement and despair. Food controls and prevents reaching the unattainable body, and Satan is watching and laughing.

Truth: 1) I don't have to have the perfect body. I am okay where I am. There is no standard I need to measure up to. This is the world's standard, not God's. 2) I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

The answer isn't resolve, determination, and starting a diet. The answer is to cling to God. To hold His word in my heart. To meditate on Scripture. And to renew my mind until I see life (including food and my body) the way He sees it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hi everyone, I'm continuing on with some of my truth journal entries from four years ago. I'm afraid I'm not a scheduled enough person to remember to post every Monday and Thursday (the week I had no entries we were camping and hiking in southern Utah), but I'm trying! Here's another entry:

Day 64 - 5/2/06

Things I need to drill into my head:

1. It is the regular application of the truth that will set me free, not adhering rigidly to an eating program. I have never been able to stick to a program long-term anyway, so it's a good thing that's not what sets me free!

2. I'm going for breaking bondage here, not perfect and prompt weight loss. It is much better to go slowly and make permanent change than follow everything perfectly (on a diet) and gain it all back.

3. Breaking boundaries aren't the end of the world. They're an opportunity to apply truth to my life to break the bondage of emotional eating.

4. "It's available" and "Everyone else is having it" are not good reasons to have treats.

5. "I deserve it" is not a good reason to eat. Eating will not meet my needs.

6. Ask myself, "What is my problem, and what will solve it?" The only time food will be the answer is when the problem is hunger!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Group Truth Journaling on Ning

I'm taking a break from my old journal entries to tell you about an idea I had. I was wondering if anyone would be interested in doing some group truth journaling sessions? I've done some of these with some of my friends lately, and they seem really helpful.

Here's what you do. Let's say someone has a hard situation they're dealing with. They would explain the situation and then we would all write down how we would truth journal about that situation. We'd need to be careful to change the details of the situation or not give too many specifics if it involves another person, but I think that would be pretty easy to do. We could also just make up a situation that we could all relate to and try journaling for it.

The value of doing this is that you can learn from what other people have to say about the situation. They might bring up some thoughts that you were thinking but didn't realize you were thinking. Or they might bring up some new truths that would be helpful.

It also helps in the learning-how-to-truth-journal process. The more real-life examples you see the easier it is to apply to your own life.

Kim has set up a Ning network that I think would be great to use for this. There's an area on there, I think in the forum section, where you can bring up a new topic. So we could try out our situations there and see if anyone wants to try truth journaling the topic or use another renewing of the mind technique to talk about it.

Anyway, I thought I'd throw it out there and see if anyone's interested. The address for the ning network is:

If you're interested in a topic, just list a topic and I or someone else could come up with an example for the topic that we could truth journal about. Here are some ideas for topics I can think of off the top of my head: insecurity, anger, regret, worry, self-condemnation, living up to expectations of others or ourselves, letting go of expectations for others, discontentment, etc.

I'll give others a chance first to see if they have something they want to truth journal about, and if no one has an idea, I'll try to come up with a situation in the next few days.

Hope everyone is having a great day. We had a big thunder and hail storm yesterday and today the grass is green, and I'm enjoying the daffodils and tulips!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 34 – April 2, 2006

Situation: We had friends for lunch, and my son made this incredible braided cheese bread plus we had brownies for dessert. I ate without thinking and ate too much.

Beliefs: It’s a party! It doesn’t count!

Truth: All things are lawful, but not all things are edifying. I can eat all I want at a party, but is it really good for me? No. Does it really make the party more fun? No. Will I be happy when the party is over? No.

The truth is what will set me free. I see the beginnings of belief change in me, but I know it will take a while to change because it’s such a big stronghold for me.

I haven’t been journaling every time I break this, much less every time I feel like eating when I’m not hungry. So I think, all in all, I’ve had some good progress.

There’s also the aspect of accepting my body where it’s at and not making a god of looks. I don’t have to be perfect, and I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations. If people see me with a weight problem, they’ll be seeing the truth – I have a weight problem.

I don’t measure up to the standards of society, but that’s okay. I only need to be trying to live for God’s approval. And although He is perfect, He does not demand perfection in others.

Day 50 – 4/18/06

The truth is starting to sink into me. I’m starting to lose the desire to overeat. But I’ve still not been losing weight other than a pound or two. I think this is the reason: I need to also rely on God for weight loss, not just the overeating.

I’m journaling the big things, and this is enough to maintain my weight but not enough to lose weight. So now I will try to journal each time I go over my point totals.

I can’t lose weight. I’m following this and not losing.

Truth: I’m not following it perfectly. Try to follow it perfectly for three weeks and then see if I still can’t lose weight.

Note: My 5/24 entry says that says I lost four pounds since that last entry.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 11 - 3/10/06

I’ve missed journaling the last three days, not because I’ve been perfect, but because I’ve been a total failure! The combined stress of all the time spent getting ready for the speech meet (and a bunch of other responsibilities) pushed me over the edge into a major “I deserve this” attitude.

But – I’m not going to give up and will try not to condemn myself. In order to become good at something you must fail at it first a bunch of times. If I only keep trying, I’ll eventually succeed.

When I journaled for anger, I didn’t condemn myself every time I felt annoyed. Instead, I brought my beliefs to the truth each time, which made the angry feelings go away. Today I still feel like eating.

1. I’ve already blown it. 2. I’ll never be able to stick to a plan and lose weight.

1. True. 2. I’ll never be able to do it if I give up at this point. This is something that will work if I see it through and keep journaling. The truth will set me free. Satan may have had a hand in the last few days since he seeks my defeat and discouragement. But the power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to me to free me from this bondage and deceit. I will press on to freedom and truth.

I also truth journaled my feelings about all my responsibilities in this entry, although I won’t include it here. The important thing to note, though, is that if I hadn’t truth journaled about the speech meet and the other things that were overwhelming me, I still would have been stressed out. It’s really important to truth journal emotions, and that often takes away your desire to eat, even if you don’t truth journal the beliefs about the food.

Day 25

Beliefs: 1. Life is too hard! 2. I'm going crazy! 3. I can't handle this. 4. I am a failure.

Prompted by: stepping on the scale and seeing a 2 pound gain after working out and eating pretty well for a week.

Truths: 1. On the world's "life is hard" scale with 100 being the easy life and 0 being the hard life, I'm at least at an 80. My life is not hard compared to the rest of the world. 2. I will not go crazy. But when I feel crazy, I have a few options open to me: 1) deal with the emotions by journaling and going to the Lord 2) call a friend and complain 3) eat 4) do something fun. The first option will give me more peace and bring me closer to God. Choose it! I'm not the only one who goes crazy. 3. That's right, I can't handle it, but God can. 4. I am weak in many areas, but God sees my heart, and He loves me no matter what.

Monday, April 5, 2010

2/28/06 – Day One

It’s my belief that a person can not only exercise self-control when it comes to food, but can also come to the point where they no longer have the desire to overeat. In fact, I think it is more effective to control the desire than it is to control the behavior. But how does one control desire? By controlling the beliefs that cause the desire in the first place.

If I believe that food will make me happy, make me feel better, and relieve my stress, then I’ll have the desire to eat even when I’m not hungry. But if I no longer believe those things, I won’t feel like eating for those reasons any longer.

So this is to be a journal of belief change. I will have a plan – three meals a day with no snacks, and I’ll journal whenever I eat a snack.

I know this worked with anger for me in about two months. But it was easy to journal every time I was angry, because I wasn’t angry that much. I used to think this wouldn’t work with food because I’d be journaling all the time. Journaling just for snacks should make it more manageable.

Day Four – 3/3/10

Situation: I was in charge of planning a speech meet and was tempted to eat to avoid planning it.

This speech meet is a trial. It could teach me:

1) To deal with procrastination.
2) To be willing to do what I don’t want to do for others.
3) To give up my time for others.
4) To accept less than perfection.
5) To organize and plan a big event.
6) To do something I don’t know how to do and persevere.

If I escape the trial by turning to an idol (food), I won’t learn from the trial. . . . God has a certain end result or outcome in mind for my trials (1 Corinthians 10:13-14, James 1). But in order to see this outcome, I need to yield fully to Him – not escape to idolatry.

So with this speech meet – God wants to use it for my good, but if I just eat out my frustrations, I'll miss out on all He has to teach me. Do I really want to do that? No.

I should mention that my theory on day one didn't quite prove true for me. Although I've had seasons when it's been easy to stick to my boundaries, it's not always that way. I think I won't get to that point until I carry all the other areas of my life captive to God that make me want to eat. And maybe not even then if I have good food around the house!

What did happen is this: I gained such confidence in the truth changing my desires, that I no longer worry about going back to my old ways. If I feel like my eating is getting out of hand (which almost never happens anymore - maybe a couple times a year), I just start truth journaling for it again, and I get back on track pretty quickly.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Blog Format

Yes, it’s true. I’m finally writing another blog post! I’m afraid I’ve had a terrible time thinking up things to write about lately. I kind of feel like I should stick to the emotional eating theme since this blog is supposed to be about emotional eating, but I can’t think of anything new to say about it!

So I was trying to decide what to do—close the blog, change the subject, etc.—when I had another idea. I thought it might be interesting to post some of my old journal entries that I wrote when I was trying to overcome emotional eating myself.

I actually remember buying that journal. I went up to Missoula and picked out a nice journal because I thought to myself, finally, I am going to commit myself to overcoming this problem. So I got a brown journal with a kind of cushy cover and made a commitment to begin journaling through my eating failures.

I have a terrible memory, so it’s been interesting to look at some of those old entries. I didn’t realize I had been planning to write a Bible study about emotional eating so long ago. The first journal entry is dated 2/28/06, and by March 3rd, I’m already talking about writing a Bible study.

Now I remember that my plan was to write the study, and then do the study, hoping that the study would help me get over my own emotional eating problem! Thankfully, God didn’t make me wait that long. Listen to my 9/23/06 entry:

The Lord is very good. It has been almost seven months since I started this journal. My hopes upon buying it were to record the growth in my life in the area of eating. My hopes were that by the end of the journal, I would learn how to control this area of my life. Now, less than seven months later, it seems that God has shown me the path.

I started by thinking my truth journaling was the answer, and that did help some. . . . This summer – probably early summer – I wrote the chapter on idolatry, and I learned about idolatry as I wrote it. And then God convicted me. Over the next month, I watched my behavior and thought, “Food is an idol in my life.”

I didn’t want an idol. I loved God too much to go to another god. So I decided to give up sweets, for life if necessary, to get rid of the idol. What was never worth it to me to lose weight (giving up sweets) was worth it to me for sweet communion with God.

You know, I don’t even remember when I had my last bowl of ice cream, or when I gave it up – I think late July or August. But I was still having problems eating too much – often granola or bread – still compulsive eating at times. Then one day I happened to run across a whole section of books at the Missoula library on food addiction.

I started researching – reading them for my Bible study – and that’s when I found the missing piece. It talked about certain foods and too much food that would set off binge eating. It said, don’t even have a bite of unallowed eating because that will set off uncontrolled eating.

I thought, “I think this is the answer to my problems.” I had long had the idea of no snacking but still allowed the bite, the nibble, the lick of the spoon, etc. And that would make me feel like I broke it which would lead to more eating.

The funny thing is that the food addict books said you should eliminate certain foods, but God had already led me to do that from the idolatry lesson. Eliminating those foods made it easier to stick to not even one bite outside of my plan.

His lovingkindness endures forever. And He continues to lead me and transform me in His time and as I am ready to lay down each area of my life before Him.

I didn’t publish my book until July of 2008, so I spent almost two more years writing it after this journal entry. During that time I came to the point where following the boundaries was easy. I also had a six week or so relapse over one of those Christmases, and some more struggles while I was doing the actual writing of the book. I'll try to include some of those entries as well.

What I'm hoping to accomplish with these entries is to show you that overcoming emotional eating is not a smooth and easy road. There are lots of failures along the way, but those failures will lead to eventual success if you keep sorting them out with God.

At any rate, I thought it might be interesting to share a few of these entries. Most of them will be far shorter than today’s post, so don’t get worried! I’ll try to post every Monday and Thursday. I won’t include whole entries, but will try to choose the parts of the entries that might be helpful.

Some of the entries will include truth journals, and some will just be regular journal entries, as I did a lot of each in this journal. These will be easy posts for me to write, as I won’t have to worry about being a perfectionist! I’ll post the first entry on Monday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Truth Retreat

When my kids were little, I used to leave them with my husband every once in awhile and head to a town an hour away from here for a little quiet time. I resisted the urge to shop and do errands and instead headed to the local university library. There I'd go down into the basement, find a nice quiet spot, and spend some time with God.

I usually had some agenda besides my quiet time. Some truth agenda (this was back in the early days of my truth journaling). What I would do is pick an emotion or a subject (rejection for example), and I'd go back into the past writing down significant memories. The list might be ten or twenty items long.

Then I'd truth journal through the list, one memory at a time. I'd write down what I was thinking at the time (it's surprising how much you can remember), and then I'd apply the truth to those old thoughts. If it was a bad memory, I'd picture God with me in the midst of the memory and imagine what He might say to me about that memory.

Sometimes I realized that I hadn't handled those past situations the way God would have wanted me to handle them. When that happened I thought about what I should have done in the situation I was remembering - not in a beat-myself-up sort of way, but in a reflective way. I hadn't really planned on doing that but for some reason it seemed to help the healing process.

I only did this a few times, but I remember them being wonderful times with God. Now my kids are older - only two left at home - and the house isn't as noisy as it used to be. I don't need to leave home to find a quiet place to spend a few hours, so I don't think about going on retreats. But I went on one anyway a few weeks ago, and it was just as delightful as I remembered. This time I brought a friend.

I picked her up around 8:00 in the morning, and we headed for that same university library I used to go to - only this time we went to the fourth floor and found some nice comfy chairs in front of a couple of windows.

My friend started in on her regular quiet time, while I asked God what He wanted me to go over that day. In the past I'd always had a plan, but this time I didn't have anything in mind when I got to the library. So I prayed for a bit, and God seemed to be directing me toward working on my people pleasing tendencies.

I thought back through my past (which takes a lot longer now that I'm nine years older!) and wrote down some memories of times when my people pleasing tendencies caused me to make bad decisions. It was an interesting experience. In the beginning, I was just thinking it would be an interesting thing to look at, but as I went through my list I realized I had a much bigger problem than I had previously realized!

Someone once said that she could feel God pouring out truth through her pen as she truth journaled. I feel the same way, and God was really pouring out the truth that morning. It was a delightful exerience (although the next day when God gave me an opportunity to put what I'd learned into practice, it was far less delightful!).

After a couple of hours at the library, we walked downtown for a bit and had lunch at a Thai restaurant which was fun and yummy. We took another walk by the river and then headed into a coffee shop for another round with the past.

This time it was my friend's turn to get poured on by God as she started her own look at the past. We sat on a cozy leather couch drinking our lattes, writing in our journals, and sharing our hearts with each other when we couldn't see the truth on our own.

Our last stop was the public library. More time in the Word, more journaling, and more talking it over with God. We finally headed for home around 4:00.

It was an amazing day of fellowship, growth, friendship, and truth. I wanted to share it with you just in case any of you might want to try something like this. You could have a subject in mind when you begin the day or just ask God what He wants you to go over once you arrive at your destination. If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Emotions Mind Renewing Challenge

In my last post I said I would give you a renewing of the mind challenge for the emotions, so I thought I better get that challenge going! Here's the challenge: to choose one emotion or situation and commit to renewing your mind every time you experience that emotion or situation for the next two weeks. Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Choose an emotion or situation that doesn't occur more than once or twice a day. For example, if you tend to be an easily annoyed person and you want to work on anger, just choose one person to journal about, preferably one that you get mad at often enough to journal about, but not so often that you'll have to spend the whole day journaling about them!

2. Commit to journaling as soon as possible after you experience the emotion, but for sure you before you go to bed that night. If you wait until the next morning two things will happen. First, you'll have a hard time remembering the thoughts that led to your negative emotion, and second, there's a good chance you'll wake up thinking, "Oh, that wasn't such a big deal. I think I'll just forget it." And then you will. Without journaling!

3. Try different ways to renew your mind to see if one works better for you than another.

4. Try to come to a point of peace each time you renew your mind. If you don't, there's a good chance you haven't yet accepted what you need to accept to find peace. Option charts always seem to make it easier for me to accept what I need to accept.

5. Don't expect it to be easy. Think of how many times Jesus had to go back to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane to line up His will with the Father's will. He didn't just say a quick little prayer and then force Himself to go to the cross. He really worked to bring His heart in line with the Father's heart. Yes, our trials are much smaller than His, but shouldn't we give the same diligence to lining up our will with the Father's?

6. Before you begin your challenge, get a notebook ready, preferably one you can tear the pages out of. That way if you write something you don't want anyone to read, you can tear it out, crumple it up, and even hide it underneath a banana peel in the garbage can if it's really bad!

7. Sometimes after I journal, especially in a situation where I'm not feeling loved, I like to listen to praise music and think of how much God loves me. I lie on the couch, close my eyes, and worship God. I often feel very cherished by Him during those times--and it always makes me feel like it was worth giving up whatever I needed to give up for Him.

Well, that's about all the tips I can think of. From my experience it takes about six to eight weeks to really have lasting results, but if you do it for two weeks the peace you enjoy may be enough to motivate you to do it another four weeks!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Working on Your Emotions

When I first began teaching Freedom from Emotional Eating two or three years ago, I had a couple of women drop out of my Bible study. They didn't want to discourage me, they said, but it was just too painful to work on their emotions to keep going. I can sympathize with those ladies. I know how hard it is to work on some of these things.

Our tendency is to blame our feelings on other people or on situations we have no control over. It's hard to recognize that we also have a certain amount of responsibility when it comes to our emotions. And it's hard to go through all the work we need to go through to find peace and joy in difficult situations.

When you first start working on an emotion, it may take awhile to bring your thoughts captive to Christ. You might need to spend a long time wrestling through a situation with God before you experience peace, and even then, the peace will feel somewhat shaky. But the more you do it, the easier it will get and the more long-lasting and all-encompassing the peace will be.

At some point you'll find that situations which at one time would have annoyed you or sent you into a frenzy of worry no longer affect you that much. You'll begin to see the benefits of renewing your mind, and that in and of itself will make you want to keep going.

If you're not at that point yet, I'd like to encourage you to work on your negative emotions. Here are four benefits I see as a result of regular renewing of your mind in the area of your negative emotions:

1. It will bring you closer to God.

The Bible actually has a lot to say about negative emotions. For example, in Matthew 5:22-28, Jesus implies that both anger and lust are sin. In Romans 1:28-30, envy, greed, and arrogance are included in a list of wrongdoings that also includes murder and hating God. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus doesn’t say that worry is a sin, but He does tell us not to do it.

Now here’s the interesting thing. We all know that sin separates us from God, but usually we focus on behavioral sin. What we need to recognize is that sins of the heart can cause distance in our relationship with God just as easily as sins of behavior. If I’m constantly wallowing in an emotion that God has told me I shouldn’t be wallowing in, then that emotion is going to affect my walk with Him, whether it’s labeled sin in the Bible or not.

Renewing my mind on a regular basis has done more for my walk with God than any other discipline. It keeps me feeling close to Him, and it keeps me wanting to spend time with Him, both in the Word and in prayer. What I've found is that when I'm all wrapped up in emotions that don't honor Him, I don't want to be with Him. Renewing my mind not only gets rid of the negative emotions--it also brings me back to God.

2. It will improve your relationships.

Here’s an interesting exercise. Take out a piece of paper and list the three negative emotions you deal with most. Then ask yourself this question: How does this emotion affect my relationship with God and others? We can easily see how an emotion like anger hurts our relationships, but the surprising thing is that seemingly benign emotions like stress and worry also hurt our relationships.

3. It will make your life more peaceful and joyful.

This is kind of an obvious benefit. The problem is that the peace and joy don’t come the minute you start working on the emotion. Instead, life is less peaceful and joyful in the beginning because of the stress working on that emotion brings into your life. Depending on your situation, you may want to think about working through some of those really difficult emotions with a counselor.

4. It will help you lose weight.

Renewing your mind in the area of food will help you lose weight, but renewing your mind in the area of your negative emotions will help you lose even more weight. That’s why five out of eight chapters in Freedom from Emotional Eating deal with the emotions.

Think of it this way—if you tend to eat when you’re worried and all of a sudden you start going to God whenever you’re worried, you’ll eventually learn to trust in Him and you’ll begin to live a life of relative non-worry. It will take a lot of renewing your mind to get to that point, but you will get there if you keep pursuing God each time you’re worried.

Once you get there, you may still eat when you’re worried. But since you won’t worry much anymore, that won’t be a big deal.

One Last Thought

Before I close, I just want to say a word to those of you who either have experienced or are experiencing devastating things in your lives that are causing your negative emotions. I can’t claim to know what you’re feeling, because I haven’t walked in your shoes, but God knows.

Think of all Jesus Christ went through when He lived on earth. He knows how you’re feeling, and He grieves over what happened to you. He doesn’t condemn you for your feelings—but He doesn’t want you to continue on in those feelings either.

Often we don’t find peace until we’re willing to accept the unacceptable. Renewing our minds helps us see life from God's point of view. Through it, God can show us if there's anything we need to accept--and He'll also give us the strength to accept what we need to accept. Renewing our minds in the area of our emotions can be very difficult, but it's worth the peace and joy and intimacy with God that comes with it.

In my next post, I'll give you a renewing of the mind challenge for the emotions.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Renewing of the Mind Challenge

I’m sitting here by the fire this morning wondering how everyone is doing today. The holiday season is officially over now and the kids are back in school. Many of you are probably thinking, “Good—life will get back to normal today.”

I still have my Christmas tree up—in fact I’m looking at it right now all lit up—and my older boys are still home for Christmas vacation, so life isn’t back to normal yet here, but I like it this way. I love having all the kids home.

Still, it’s time to get back to work today. I’ll be working again on my new Bible study and forcing myself to go back to my writing schedule.

The first Monday of the new year is a good time for beginnings, and today I’d like to present you with a renewing of the mind challenge. What I’d like you to try is five days of truth journaling, Scripture prayers, or one of the other mind renewing practices in Freedom from Emotional Eating.

If you’re having problems sticking to your eating boundaries, you may want to place your efforts toward trying to stick to your boundaries. If you’re already doing that, I would try working on one of your negative emotions.

Here are some pointers for you if you’re going to work on sticking to your boundaries:

1. Print out some lie/truth charts right away or get a notebook handy. Find a pen and put everything in a place where it’s easy to get to when you need to journal. You can find a larger version of the lie/truth chart that’s in the book at in the sample content area.

2. Make a commitment to journal every time you eat something out of your boundaries, and I mean every time—even if it’s just one lick of the spoon.

3. Make a rule that you have to truth journal before you can eat anything else.

4. Truth journal even if you’re already planning to break your boundaries again the minute you’re done truth journaling.

5. Don’t beat yourself up even if you break your boundaries ten times during the day—but you should have ten truth journal entries to show for your ten boundary breaks. I would also intersperse those truth journal entries with Scripture prayers which you could even write out.

6. Do this for five solid days even if it doesn’t seem to be making a difference.

Here are some pointers for you if you had been sticking to your boundaries faithfully before Christmas but you’ve been doing terrible since:

1. Do all the things I just mentioned in the previous section.

2. In addition, you’ll need to truth journal your feelings of failure and your fear of continuing to fail.

3. Every time you feel like you will never get over this problem, journal those thoughts. This is a necessary part of the process. I don’t think you can break free from emotional eating without going through the fear of failure stage. It usually hits more than once and it’s often accompanied by failure. You’ll need to use the truth to combat all those lies that tell you you’ll never get over this problem!

4. Be willing to accept that your failure has made you gain some of your weight back if that’s what has happened. Weight isn’t everything, but following God is. Ask yourself, how does God see this situation you’re in? How are you seeing the situation? Adjust your thinking so it matches His.

5. Recognize that this is a trial and know that God can use this trial to bring you closer to Him and make you more like Him if you go to Him for help. If you have Freedom from Emotional Eating, go back to the chapter on trials and rework it with your present trial of eating failure in mind. Make a list of all the things God could do in your life if you were to keep going to Him for help with this trial.

6. Steep yourself in the Word. Spend as much time with God as possible. Remember that life is about loving God and loving others. Answer this question in your journal: How can I love God best in this situation of struggling with food? How can I love my neighbors best in this situation? In the overall scheme of life does a five or ten pound Christmas weight gain make that much difference? How would God want me to move on from here?

I’m going to have to give the pointers for working on the emotions in my next post because I need to get to work on writing before I lose my momentum. I’ll be praying for all of you this week.