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 . . .)
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 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. Listen to Heather’s interview with Mindy about her body image journey, here.