How Not To Handle Fear of Fat

I had another “fat” day. A day when I could feel every micron of fleshy flaw and no number of changed outfits could erase it. Insecurity started to creep up as I packed my bags for a ladies retreat.

You guys, I’m discouraged that I’m still fighting the same battle. Do you feel that way too sometimes? Here’s a video if you want to hear this intro in my own words:

I picked up my journal, thinking I might need it for the retreat, dusted it off and read the most recent entry. It made me sad.

A Journal Entry

This is from almost two years ago:

“Just wanting to say that God is doing some amazing things in my life. He is so good and kind and glorious. He is walking me through freedom from my suffocating bondage to dieting, beauty, body image and shame. My lifelong, or nearly lifelong, imprisonment to these things has robbed, hurt, and deceived me. Once I truly surrendered to His lordship in my sanctification, he began dramatically working. He’s healing me and my body both. My body has released weight while I was free to enjoy liberty. What a miracle.

I don’t feel more valuable, loveable, or worthy. My Father has been severing the lies which told me the scale had anything to do with those things. Sin and shame governed in my heart through diets, self-abuse, and idolatry. I was deceived. I ate the apple. I did it my way and tried to fix it my way (or the latest expert’s way) for 25 years. As a result my body carries a lot of extra weight and my heart has been crushed. Then God.

God responded to my heart-cry and showed me his glory in the gospel of Jesus. He showed me grace, grace bigger than I could have ever conceived. His goodness is beyond imagination or questioning. His sovereignty is all-encompassing, and not in the least dependant on my performance. He showed me my bondage and never let my idols save me. He let them crush me with their weight so I could become poor in spirit before him, seeing him as my only good, so that I would never be satisfied without him, himself. He let me suffer so I could see him for who he is. I praise God with my whole heart that he did not let go of me and let me have my idols. He gets the glory. I get to bow before King Jesus and love him more and more forever. Amen.”

Sanctification Takes a Really Long Time

Sounds like I’ve figured it out right? Sigh. Two years ago when I wrote this, I was sure I was turning a forever corner. I’ve had so many moments when a breakthrough of grace makes me feel like I’m on the downhill side of a lifetime of struggle and I’m only months away from an after story. Just this last November, I purchased three pairs of size 14 pants, and I was *certain* I’d be able wear them out of the house by Christmas. I’ve lost 12 pounds, and I can put them on, but they still look more like a tourniquet than a pair of pants and I’m afraid that if I sit in them, the front button may pop off in a rage and ping someone in the head with terminal velocity. (Also, they may cut off circulation to my intestines . . .)

The I-was-so-sure-I-was-succeeding pants are still the back of my closet waiting for me to get my act together. I’m not there yet. Sanctification takes a really long time.how to handle fear of fat

In the year and a half since I wrote this entry, I’ve been diagnosed with an endocrine disorder (PCOS). I now know my weight struggles were not all in my head. My condition makes weight loss very difficult and weight gain pretty effortless, and according to some doctors, inevitable. Maybe I could deal with that if it was just about not being pretty or having a hot body, but there are health risks associated. I confess I have responded with genuine panic and dread.

I know my growing fear of food, illness, and death do not befit a loved daughter of the King, but I haven’t known how to stop. I know the gospel, but I don’t want to get heart disease, diabetes, or have a stroke and die. My body feels like a ticking bomb sometimes. That’s not healthy or good. I’m struggling to steward my health well, while not giving into panicked legalism. I still need to learn to trust God while I cultivate health with grace.

Did I run to my good Father with my fear and diagnosis? Did I stay surrendered to him as I had expressed in my journal? Did I find peace in his all-encompassing sovereignty?

No. No I didn’t.

The Battle to Trust

I ran to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the internet and leaped at its fruit and I prayed along the way. I want to know the unknowable. And, I want an answer to why. I want to have the power to control my body and my outcomes and to know what God knows. I want to find a way to save myself from all the what-if’s.

I ran toward my idols because Jesus isn’t tame.

He sovereignly permits suffering when it serves his good purposes and I don’t want to suffer. I hate feeling so vulnerably human. I don’t want to be in a broken world with sickness. I don’t want to die, or when I do, I don’t want to deserve it because I’m a sinner who still can’t fit into size 14 pants. I only want to face illness knowing I did everything right.

Can you hear how off that thinking is?

I don’t yet truly trust God to care for me. I don’t always believe his will is good and perfect. Instead, I believe I know what’s best, and I get afraid when I am faced with how little I control I have–how dependent on him I really am. That’s why I find myself wanting to believe the diet gods who promise I can control my life and death with coconut oil, reduced carbs, macro ratios, and grass-fed meat. I want to believe them. I really do. I want Gnostic asceticism to be able to lift me out from among the dead.

I want to be my own god through food and exercise, as if these beautiful common graces can save me.

They can’t. It’s a lie. It’s self-sufficiency. It’s rebellion.

I sinfully claw for sovereignty, omniscience, and limitlessness when I think and behave this way. I’m deeply grieved that I have such little faith and I have run toward sin so willingly.

This is a confession. It is a cautionary example of how we so naturally slide toward sin when we take our eyes off our Lord, when we fail to trust his authority and goodness, even when we know better. I am so grateful he has not run out of grace for me, and never will, but I wish I had not erred so, and given fear the reins.

Are you running after these idols as well? Let’s turn back. We can go together.


 

Mindy Pickens Compared to WhoMindy Pickens a wife and mother who loves Jesus, her husband, their two daughters, coffee, books…and coffee. She spends her time homeschooling, tutoring in her homeschool community, and trying to figure out this whole home-maker thing. She’s a regular woman who is captivated by the gospel of Jesus Christ and is learning to surrender to the grace and goodness of God. Read Mindy’s posts here.

11 Comments
  • Jessica Gardiner
    March 9, 2017

    Yep! Running after these idols too 🙁 Over and over and over again! I resonated so much with this article. Thank you for sharing!!!

  • The Remedial Homemaker
    March 9, 2017

    Your welcome Jessica!

  • BradandBeth Rutherford
    March 10, 2017

    I am SOOO guilty of running to the tree of knowledge – knowledge truly is an idol for me. I have an insatiable desire to KNOW! And that springs from a desire to be in control. Part of this is my humanity ‘shining through’ and the other part comes out of brokenness from my past. I had never thought about my idols “crushing me” but that is too true. I’m glad for his daily mercies and unending grace.

    • The Remedial Homemaker
      March 11, 2017

      I’m grateful for it too Beth, and for the grace to keep learning to go a different way.

      ~mindy

  • Karen Brummet
    March 10, 2017

    Hi Mindy,

    What a wonderful and honest message. I am so sorry that you have PCOS. Hormonal issues are very hard to deal with since they affect so much in life, especially your mood. I know that we can’t use that as an excuse but it is the truth. When you wrote:

    “I ran to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the internet and leaped at its fruit and I prayed along the way. I want to know the unknowable. And, I want an answer to why. I want to have the power to control my body and my outcomes and to know what God knows. I want to find a way to save myself from all the what-if’s.”

    It really hit home. I have been so guilty of doing that very thing in regard to my diet/body image/idolatry and also for medical reasons (I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Myofacial Pain Syndrome back in 2012). We do run to the internet to see what we can do to “save” ourselves from the pain, heartache and the what-if’s.

    Thank you for sharing what you’ve been going through.

    Karen

    • The Remedial Homemaker
      March 11, 2017

      Hi Karen, I’m sorry for your diagnosis too. It’s hard to learn to manage our care without false pressure to save ourselves. It’s hard to trust God when there is so much conflicting information about what you should do. Keep fighting for freedom and trust. You’re not alone.

      ~mindy

  • Jenn
    March 11, 2017

    It’s like you wrote this for me! I am constantly climbing that tree and eating from it’s fruit. And.It.Never.Works!! Just the other night I practically composed a blog post in my head while praying in bed waiting to fall asleep. I was looking back longingly to the time in my life when I was my thinnest. When I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight. When someone would say you are getting too thin and my heart would swell in victory. The sad truth was I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and undiagnosed celiac disease and I was very truly sick. I lived in the bathroom everytime I ate. Yet how am I longing to be there again??? Just to fit into some ideal (idol) image I have in my head. Thanks so much for your honesty and vulnerability.

  • Jenn
    March 11, 2017

    I feel like you wrote this just for me! I to run to that tree and eat from its fruit. And.It.Never.Works! Just the other night while lying in bed trying to fall asleep and praying, I practically wrote a blog post in my head. I was thinking back to the time of my life when I was the thinnest and most satisfied with how I looked. It was a time when I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound. A time when people would tell me you’re getting too thin and my heart would swell with victory. Unfortunately the truth was I had rheumatoid arthritis and undiagnosed celiac disease and eventually I would have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I was very truly sick. Every time I ate I lived in the bathroom. And yet this is how I want to be? How can I be glorifying this time in my mind?? Just because I have some ideal (idol) image in my head. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.

  • Shea L Underwood
    March 11, 2017

    Your transparency hit home. Thank you.

  • Larisa Cushman
    March 12, 2017

    Hi Mindy ! I think I Love you ;). In Christ absolutely. This article was/ is so spot on for me. I try to love my body and some days I think I do…But I; like you, think I can control this (excess weight, flab- rolls, female health issues ) All on my own and I forget to Ask my Lord & Saviour to guide me in this journey. And then I forget to tell HIM how thankful I am that I am Fearfully & Wonderfully made through Him, Which then makes me feel guilty for the sin of my “disbelief/mistrust” and Sad for Him that I keep doing this. I am so glad HE loves us no matter what. Thank you so much for putting into words the thoughts, and struggles I think Soooo Many of us go through.

  • Wendy Herrmann Smith
    March 15, 2017

    Thanks, Mindy. For me it’s not fat days but flat days. My breasts are small and make me feel like I’m not a real woman. And yes it’s been up and Down for 40 years. Know that women with slightly different body image struggles appreciate your honesty.

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