As every fat girl knows, once she blows a diet, it’s all over. We’re either clinging to the edge of that cliff hanging on to our calorie counts, cleanses, exercise plans, and meal-replacing milkshakes by our fingernails for dear life or free-falling off the edge of a food cliff. Diets can’t hold me, they can’t catch me once the falling starts, because they’re only as strong as I am. And I am never strong enough. Never.
I can last a few weeks, a few months even if results motivate me, but sooner or later my own willpower fails me. Sometimes it’s just that my resolve peters out. More frequently, life wears me down. Circumstances get more and more difficult until I go running back to my old friend and comfort, food. That’s when the free-fall begins and, nine times out of ten, it doesn’t end until I hit the rocky ground ten pounds heavier than when I began dieting in the first place and completely disheartened.
I have come to be completely convinced that no diet can deliver me. Jenny Craig can’t save. Weight Watchers can’t rescue. Dr. Atkins cannot heal. No exercise plan can strengthen me enough to break the chains of slavery to food that I have forged. We were designed to have one and only one savior, Jesus.
I lift my eyes up to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and
(English Standard Version)
Jesus is my new weight loss plan. He is my exercise program. I’m looking to Him for my self-worth rather than the number on a scale. I’m turning to Him for comfort rather than the refrigerator. He is my miracle diet! Over the course of the last year I have been trying to live out my conviction that my “help comes from the Lord.” The real miracle? He’s doing it. The numbers on the scale are going down, I fit in those jeans again, and, the very best thing, I’m not enslaved to food like I once was.
This week I experienced a hiccup. On Sunday, after long consideration, I decided a man was worth it, and I would open up my heart for the first time in a long time to the possibility of happily-ever-after. On Tuesday, my mini-romance ended and I got told he just wanted to be friends. Yet, I walked the next three days in freedom. Hard days, ridiculous days, lonely days with a bruised heart, and a sob lingering in the back of my throat. Stunningly, I wasn’t even tempted to overeat! Even between crying bouts I was praising God for this unexpected liberty- the ability to mourn without overeating. I can assure you that that was the first time in my life I have ever managed that. I wasn’t even tempted to indulge. I scraped leftovers in the trash, brought food home from my lunch, didn’t eat seconds, and put the leftovers away without sneaking a bite or two or twelve before sealing the Tupperware. On the best day, any one of those would be victory enough, but to eat like a skinny girl flawlessly with tears running down my face was akin to me to a little red sea parting. It was a full on Daddy miracle.
So what happened to me yesterday, on Friday? It was a long day, true. I was impatient and discouraged with my clients, they all seemed so slow and their goals impossible. My kids were driving me crazy; I kept chewing Kaya’s head off. And I ate. And ate. And ate. As usual, I was a dietary saint until dinner time; breakfast and lunch are generally no problem. I even made a fantastic gnocchi dish for lunch and didn’t take seconds, not even a nibble. So what dam broke at dinner that I went back for seconds, then thirds and finally, hours later, fourths? To top it all off, I broke down and made chocolate chip cookies at 10:30 at night and ate a handful of the hot delicious little heart soothers, fast and with my mind as blank as possible so that I didn’t have to think about what I was doing. Where did my freedom go? How did heartbreak not bring me down, yet an irritating day was enough to dissolve all my precious resolve, like one of my cookies in a glass of milk? I went to bed uncomfortably full, discouraged, bewildered, and, frankly, sick of my own crap.
I found the answer this morning as I sat down to enjoy a little extended time with my Daddy in the word. Right there in my journal, plain as day, was a record of the last few days. My entries from Monday and Tuesday morning show I was reveling in the word. There are pages there of scripture interspersed with me just chatting with the Lord, asking questions of the Word, and recording the answers I found there in scripture. There is a back and forth dialogue. Tuesday morning, I even took the time to copy out all 24 verses of Psalm 139. Wednesday and Thursday’s entries have an entirely different flavor. They are all crying out with none of the give and take of the days before. I poured my heart out to the Lord, yes, but I didn’t read any scripture. I didn’t give my Daddy a chance to answer back. I didn’t dig into the word to hear from Him. By Friday, the pages were blank; I wasn’t in the mood. I skipped my morning quiet time in favor of checking Facebook and playing Candy Crush, and putting on a full face of makeup (I was cute yesterday, let me tell you!). I even got an extra opportunity to journal mid-day when my second client canceled. I briefly considered it, then I cooked a feast for lunch and played a few more games of Candy Crush instead. By 7:30 pm, I was Word deprived, a nice little cavernous pit of need. Once again, just like old times, instead of going to Daddy, I walked right into the kitchen. Half a fritatta and 5 or 6 cookies later I had indigestion and a first-rate case of shame induced self-loathing.
Before you lose heart, let me tell you the good news: I don’t have to free fall! This is not the end of my victory. His mercies are new every morning. I can be sure of that because Friday was not the first little slip-up on my journey. Over the last year, I’ve had more rebellious screw-up days than I care to count. Yet, never once did they lead to the utter abandon of giving up on a diet. Whenever I get into the word, God keeps graciously reminding me that He WILL deliver me. Over and over and over again He assures me. He doesn’t ever get sick of my crap. Quite the opposite of diets, my Daddy’s strength does not run out when mine does. Instead, if I run to Him and to His healing word, He can catch me and hold me. So, that’s where you’ll find me this morning. I’ve been curled up on the sofa for hours with a cup of coffee, my journal, and a well-worn bible and I’m not getting up until I’ve had a nice long chat with my Daddy.
But I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness,
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:21-26, ESV
Note from the author: Another classic post, this was originally posted on my Blogger site, Beauty for Ashes Style, on 9/16/14.