“Do you feel like you eat when you’re not hungry more often or that you eat too much when you do eat?” My therapist asked. I knew the answer before she was even done with the question.
“Both. Gosh, both.”
I realize that I’ve said so many times, to myself and my counselor and to my body image group, “I know I can’t do this on my own. I am totally dependent on Jesus.”
I mean that, truly. But part of me doesn’t. Because I don’t do the things that indicate that I am fully dependent.
I’m talking prayer. I’m talking repentance. Right smack dab in the middle of the struggle.
She pauses. “It sounds like you expect this journey to be a sort of a clear and steady mountain climb. It usually doesn’t work like that. Usually, it’s really very hard at the beginning, for months or even longer. It’s only after a long while that you start to see consistent progress.”
I have been wrong. I have been saying I know that this health of body and food takes time but I haven’t been living like it.
I’ve been saying things like,“How am I ever supposed to keep this up for a lifetime if I can’t even do 0-5 eating for a day!?” and, “I get so frustrated with myself, it’s like…why can’t I just get this right?”
The truth is, God wants me to turn to him the moment when I go reaching for the fridge door. I can stop right there and pray, and beg for His help not to shove my spiritual needs down with physical food. Heck, I can turn to Him while I’m shoving my face. I can say, as Paul does in Romans 7:15, “I do the thing I don’t want to do! What is my deal!? You’re the only one that can help me!” (Clearly, a paraphrase.) What it actually says is this:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate….”
If I really realize my full dependence on Jesus, not just to avoid eating when I’m not hungry, not simply to stop overeating even when I am truly hungry, but to enter into relationship with Him in the midst of it, I must press into repentance. The point is not less food or more control. The point is Jesus.
I recently wrote down some lies that I believe about how I relate to food. I’m realizing, slowly but surely (seems to be how growth works…) that these things can only be healed and helped through constant confession and repentance. For me, confession starts with admitting to God the things He already knows and has been gracious enough to show me about how I relate to food.
So here are the LIES:
- If I’m not “full” (a bit uncomfortable), I didn’t get enough.
- If it tastes good, I should each as much as I can.
- If it’s there, it’s an option.
- If it’s dinnertime, I must eat now even if I’m not experiencing true hunger.
- I need something to do, so food is an option.
- I could go get some food, so I will.
- Just a little something when I’m not hungry doesn’t count.
- Someone I love is eating so I’ll have some too.
- Even if a dessert is not high quality, I should try some.
- A small portion won’t be enough for me.
Here, from what I’m learning, about the slow and sure process of growth, are some TRUTH replacements:
- If I am satisfied (comfortable, not feeling too full), I got enough.
- If it tastes good, I can eat it when I’m truly hungry.
- If it’s there, it’s an option if I’m truly hungry.
- If it’s dinnertime and I’m not yet truly hungry, I can save it for when I am.
- I need something to do. Food is not an “option” in this case.
- I could go get some food, but unless I’m hungry, I won’t buy something to eat.
- Just a little something when I’m not hungry isn’t worth it.
- Someone I love is eating. Great! If I’m not hungry, I’ll share space with them instead of food.
- If a dessert is not high quality, it’s probably not worth my time.
- A small portion might be just right.
So God calls me into a relationship. For a relationship to flourish, you have to admit where you’re getting it wrong, not to say “Oh crap, I’m doing it wrong and I can’t believe I don’t have it all together by now and you might as well give up on me,” but instead to say, “I need to repent for the lies I’m believing, and only you can help me. Thank you that because of Christ I get to move forward in grace instead of condemnation.”
Idolatry and sin can only be healed in the context of a love affair with Jesus, an overflow of close fellowship. I do have to make outward changes. No doubt about it. But if I don’t press into relationship with Jesus, those will just be actions, and God could care less about that without a heart dedicated to repenting in the thick of the serious stuff.
Anything that I make a habit other than for passionately following Jesus can become idolatry in a split second if it’s disconnected from relationship. As I learned in a class I took this past week, idolatry tells us the lie that we don’t have to be dependent on God for every little thing. There is a way around that. Like the snake whispered in Eve’s ear, we can be our own god, we can rule ourselves.
And Eve ate the apple, and passed some to her husband, who also ate.
As my professor Dr. Williams says, “Here’s how Genesis 3 should have gone instead. Adam and Eve saw the craftiest of all the creatures in the garden and SPLAT…dead snake.”
So my pressing into relationship with Jesus, my constant repentance and grateful admittance of my own dependence as a created creature, NOT the creator, that is my way of saying SPLAT! To anything that stands between us- the lies, the whisperings that I should be doing this faster or better or sooner.
SPLAT dead snake. Apple on the ground. No fig leaves needed.
Intimacy is what I long for, and repetance is the only way.
Even seven oreos in.
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace that is greater than all my sin.