Finally, I can shut the cover of this book and give it back to my friend (thanks J for loaning it to me!). Don’t get me wrong, this is a great book and will change your life if you take the message to heart. My life has changed in rather unexpected ways since opening the first page. Some of the changes have been a bit too dramatic for me and others…just beautiful. I’ve let go of exhausting emotional pain and received a deeper appreciation for my husband. That one experience of grace alone made this book a cherished experience for me…even if I only lost five pounds (so far).
Not every loss and gain I’ve experienced in the past few months has been as easy to accept and understand. Most notably walking away from a beloved Church Family. That hurt and sometimes I still get a bit mad and want to throw something. Sometimes we have to leave our comfortable places, routines, and friends to encounter Jesus anew. Visiting different churches has been fun but mostly scary. But I am at church to worship my God and not see friends or worship with familiar faces and music. The hardest part has been accepting the sometimes unkind words from friends for leaving or the not so nice comment on which ever church I am attending at the moment. Ministry is also absent since I have been church adrift. Not being involved in ministry or service has been hard for me. But Jesus does not want me to be involved in much right now. I felt useless and guilty. But I think He wanted me to experience these feelings so I could understand that being a Christian is not about what I can do for Jesus. He does not need me to do anything and I cannot make myself better in His eyes no matter how many good works I perform or sacrifices I make. It took the experience of feeling useless to Him and unable to earn His love for me to realize that my worth is in His redemptive love for me…not in anything I can do to earn my place in Christianity. He chose to love me and in His love I find my worth…not in doing and earning but in being and accepting. Scary kind of freedom…
Funny part of all this is just as I accepted being ” useless” He gives me a ministry to embrace. Wow! I am now in small group leadership training for an online church called Beliefchangers. (I promise to tell y’all about them in another post soon). I feel a bit freaked and completely unable to be a part of this ministry…this is completely different from tending to preschoolers. But His grace is sufficient for me…I really am not capable of this without Jesus. Maybe that is the point. I can do preschool ministry without really needing Jesus but now I will have to totally rely on Him. I think I am slowly learning that this is the heart of Christianity. Everything I do should flow from His strength…every breath. Abide.
This book sent me on an unexpected and spiritual journey. I was at a block in my relationship with Jesus. But ever since I let go of my past the spiritual desert or overwhelming silence I found myself in has slowly faded. My life and love for Jesus is blossoming anew. I find it a little humorous that I feel like springtime as nature descends into winter.
Now about the reason I started this book…get healthy and lose weight. I’ve really only just started on this path. I started to keep a food journal and noting when and why I was eating. I really want to eat when feeling sad. To help with this I started keeping a gratitude journal. Being thankful does keep the munchies away for me. I am also slowly adding exercise to my day but with four little children that is not always easy. I may have to bite the bullet and get up really early to accomplish this task each day. I have also substituted one of my meals each day for a smoothie. On days when I exercise and eat healthy I feel better physically. I am hoping to have a before and after picture to post in the future…well I have the before picture…
As I take the time to wait for my friend to catch her breath during our Made to Crave study, I too hit the pause button. I haven’t continued on but I have kept up with the healthier choices made so far. The exercises, healthier portions and drinking more water are going well and the choice to do so doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice these days. But it hasn’t been easy. I decided that I would use this pause to deal with my black hole…figure it out and put it to rest.
No, Jesus decided that He would deal with my black hole. Honestly, I could go on ignoring it and pretend it doesn not exist. He exposed it to me in His loving, sanctifying way and the next step is up to me. I can keep my black hole and the sin it represents or I can surrender it to the Redeeming One. But in order to surrender this wound I have to repent and in order to repent I must know and acknowledge my own wrong. Can you tell I’ve spent the last two weeks in Job?
I believe this journey over the past couple of weeks is why the Spirit has urged me to do this study. And it has been a hard few weeks. Spiritually the last four weeks have been tough. Walking away from my beloved church family was and still is very painful. The lessons I am learning from that break are hard but also beneficial. The lessons are a part of my surrendering the black hole to my Redeemer and are part of a promise He made to me several years ago.
I grew up abused and that really messes a girl up. My worldview is messed up. My way of relating to others is messed up. My attempts at understanding that I am messed up is …messed up. I truly have no concept of “normal”. I hadn’t even begun to deal with any of this until I found myself pregnant with my first child. By the end of that pregnancy I was terrified. I knew all about how not to raise a child but very little about how to raise a child in a healthy and happy home. I had heard all the stories about how those who are abused will abuse their own children and that scared me. Really scared me. I did not want to pass this generational sin to my son. In my desperation I got bold with God. I remember praying and telling Him that if He truly loved me He would remove this instinct to abuse from me. If He wanted me to raise this child for His glory He would have to cure me. And He did!! I knew it instantly and this is the best I can explain the experience.
And in that healing my Heavenly Father said I love you. He took a part of my black hole away that day. He will take it all away if allowed. He is an amazing God and some days I really do not understand why He bothers with humanity…especially me.
I tell my children that I love them everyday. I have no memory of my father saying those words to me. In that statement is the origin of my black hole.
I have “daddy issues”. It looks really funny on the screen and I feel kinda silly admitting something so obvious. I thought that I had dealt with this stuff in the past. But that is my problem. I “dealt” with it by buying the lie my father told me and then letting it fester into a black hole that will eventually kill me. My father does not love me and that is a harsh wound for a little girl to bear. I thank God everyday for my husband who does love his children. Inside of me is a broken-hearted little girl who wants to be loved by and to return love to her father. I can look back over my life and see the consequences of this pain. I made many bad decisions. I even did good things but with incorrect motivations.
I am free
Bye, bye black hole.
The primary tip I picked up from this chapter was to use my cravings as a prompt to pray. I have a hard time expressing myself sometimes and when I am terribly emotional the best course of action for me is the Psalms. I pray over the Psalms, cry the Psalms, and chant the Psalms. I chant them to myself, not out-loud…only almost crazy, not totally…yet.
The chanting is left over from my time in the monastery. We sang the Psalms and canticles from Scripture several time a day. That sort of experience leaves a permanent mark in my heart. I have forgotten many things about the monastic way of life but the chanting and the peace it always brought me remains. There is a Psalm for every emotion. I have turned to the Psalms and found strength. My favorite lately is Psalm 7:1-2. Jesus will not leave me alone to face my fears. My faith will strengthen in this trial and He will sustain me. When I crave unhealthy nourishment for my body then I will pray. And I will use the feelings of craving to remind myself that the only nourishment that can calm my craving is the Bread of Life. And drink a glass of water.
I’ve been drinking lots of water.
I’ve been ignoring my swirling mass of destruction with busyness. Childcare, husband-care, and housework (and now homeschooling) take alot of energy. And it is so easy to justify ignoring my own needs for theirs. And when my black hole acts up I just stuff it with Doritos and chocolate and go about my busy self sacrificing life. It ain’t working, not anymore. My journey to get healthy isn’t just about a thinner waitline and good cholesterol numbers…those will just be nice side effects. This is about holding on to Jesus, being faithful despite my terror and letting Him cast out my fear. And He will get rid of my personal black hole…as soon as I let it go. I can’t hold on to Him if I am holding on to my black hole.This is a pretty simple choice and I feel so stupid now that I see the choice in front of me: I can have my fears and the food I use to silence them or I can have Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world..and chocolate and Dr. Pepper and pizza…
Give me Jesus.
How do I feel about this battle in from of me? (Question 5 from chapter 2) Tired and terrified. I should have dealt with my black hole years ago. I thought I had. But I can see now that I have dealt with some of the behaviors caused by my black hole but not my swirling dark mass of need. Weariness…that is how I feel. This battle is too big for me and I can’t run from it anymore. I can’t do this Jesus, but you can. Take my black hole Lord and this time I won’t let go of You. I know You are going to show me what this represents. I know it will hurt.
This chapter is about having an eating plan. That means research. Well, I am not going to make my family go on a diet with me nor will I start a diet. Diet seems like a temporary thing to me. I did spend some time reading about proper portions. I have been properly portioning my food this week and some last week. It isn’t that hard and I can easily keep it up. And I have been answering my cravings with water. I still do not crave water. One small step at a time. Healthier choices and proper portions with exercise. Not much of a plan but at least I have a plan. By healthier choices I mean more natural food and less processed, prepackaged foods. Pop Tarts and Ding Dongs do not grow on trees and I am a little sad over that fact.
This past week was hard and kinda crazy. With very little notice my mother showed up for the week. I had lots of plans for this week but with her arrival on my doorstep all of my resolve for this Made To Crave study disappeared. Almost. I was hit hard with my need for Jesus and shown just how much I use food to stuff my feelings and never let them see the light of day. I feel emotionally drained now and humbled to see how little I turn to my Lord for comfort and strength. I had just as many victories against the chocolate idol as I had defeats. But my true victory was in seeing and noticing my need for Jesus and how I have silenced that need with food. I will let my soul cry out for my God, my Holy Father and not silence my soul with potato chips and Milky-Way bars. Now I am aware of what is happening and I think that is half the battle. This realization is a painful victory but it is a victory to the glory of God.
Charters 1-3 Reflection questions and a few notes: I am not going to answer all of the questions just a few from each chapter. With these first three chapters and all of the crazy events that happened this week I learned that I try too hard to do everything myself. I am not talking about the dishes and childcare but the sort of stuff that I should surrender to Jesus. I want to have a real relationship with Him yet I turn to food for comfort instead of Him! Sounds silly on this page but it is true. If I do not let Him comfort me then how will I know Him as my comforter?!
Lysa also said that we crave what we eat. I put that to the test with water. I am not a big fan of water but most of the time I made myself drink water. I still do not like water so it must take more than a week. I’ll let you know when I actually crave water.
One of the questions asked what my cravings look like and what would I ask my cravings. I imagine my cravings to look like a black hole. A great big swirling mass of need that is never satisfied. I feel like I have a black hole in my soul. Nice. Why do I have a black hole? What are you trying to drown? What is so awful, what need do you represent? Why am I crying and on the verge of falling apart realizing that you represent something I really want to run away from. You are something that I need to surrender to Jesus. You represent something so hurtful that I would rather die by food than acknowledge your existance…