My Inconvenient Conviction

For the past 5 months, I have been on a journey, even though I have yet to leave Fort Worth.

Webster defines a journey as “something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another.” And that’s exactly what the last 5 months of my life have been like, a traveling from one place to another. And I never want to get back to where I started.

Have you ever struggled with something for so long that it just seemed to be a part of your everyday life? Almost making it more a lifestyle than an actual “sin issue” needing to be dealt with?

I have. For the last 15-20 years actually. I’m not even sure exactly when it began, but up until about 5 months ago, it had defined me, protected me, and become a part of me; all the while, it was actually killing me. Five months ago, it was February and I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now. That’s right. 40 pounds. And I will be the first to admit that the Lord is not finished working in my life on this issue, but yet there is so much that He has already taught me along the way.

Obesity: A Prevalent Problem.

It’s all over the place in America. In fact, according to the National Health and Examination Survey taken in 2010, a whopping 68% of all adult Americans (20 yrs and older) are either obese or overweight. That’s every 2 out of 3 people struggling with this issue of weight. Two out of 3 people walking down our streets; 2 out of 3 people sitting in our pews; 2 out of 3 pastors preaching from our pulpits. And for more than half of my life, I have been contributing to the statistic without much thought of what I was really doing to my body.

Overweight & Your Real Reason?

Those of us who struggle with our weight are all different, I get it. And this article isn’t about a regime of diet, exercise, or medical prescriptions or procedures scientifically, genetically, digitally, or chemically organized for “optimal weight loss performance.” This article isn’t even about losing weight or being obese. It’s simply an effort on my part to open your eyes to a possible stronghold Satan may have in your life of which you were previously unaware. Each person who is either overweight or obese is generally so for a variety of reasons.

Lifestyle Reasons.

The Journal of American Medical Association attributes much of the blame of obesity on diet alone, claiming that the increased rate of obesity has occurred at the same average as the amount of food energy supplied. Another reason for the escalating statistic is the lack of exercise among Americans as a whole. I know, for me, when my life got crazy-busy, exercise was always the first thing to get chucked off my to-do list. Yet, I somehow always found time to eat an extra portion of dinner, fit an extra scoop of Ben & Jerry’s into my bowl, and watch a little bit of TV at the end of the day, “to wind down.” We always find a way to have or do the things that are truly a priority in our lives.

Genetics or Medical Reasons.

For a small number of us (smaller than we’d care to admit), there are forces outside our control that cause us to be overweight. Studies have shown some people are prone to being overweight. They have slower metabolisms or medical conditions such as thyroid complications, and some are even the unfortunate carriers of the infamous fat gene. For years, I was self-diagnosed with the fat gene. I mean, I’ve always been “big-boned.” However, everyone’s bones are the same, and the fat gene isn’t so widespread that it can be the real reason for over two-thirds of Americans’ weight problems. When God convicted me of this issue in my life, I started to consciously make health-related decisions and brought them under God’s will instead of my flesh’s will; the weight started coming off, and I could no longer blame “my fat gene.” But there are some legitimate medical conditions that can cause rapid weight gain or slow weight loss. These cases, however, aren’t to be seen as an excuse to throw caution to the wind and live the lifestyle of an overweight person. Instead, these people need to seek professional medical help and live life as any Christian who has been given an opportunity for God’s strength to be seen through their weakness.

Emotional or Psychological Reasons.

For many of us who struggle with our weight, there is an emotional or psychological component involved that is deeper than we may initially realize. Some people overeat because food is emotionally satisfying. Food is their outlet, their go-to drug of choice, their addiction. For some, food is a trustworthy friend who never lets them down, it always gives them joy and makes them feel better about life. For others, their weight has always been a part of who they are. If they were to lose it, it would be like losing themselves and their identity. For others, they’re overweight for much darker and sadder reasons. Something tragic has happened in their past, generally some form of abuse, usually sexual. Their weight is a protective barrier, a shield that doesn’t allow anyone else in who might hurt them, judge them, or see their past. To lose their weight would mean becoming vulnerable, and so the pounds stay packed on like a iron-clad safe around their pain.

Comfort of the Flesh.

For others still, there’s a spiritual aspect involved to their hefty weight. They don’t know how to say no to the flesh, or they don’t want to. Controlling the flesh takes a level of self-discipline that they’re either not accustomed to or they’re not comfortable with, so they instead feed the flesh anything and everything that it desires. However, the discipline of self-control effects every area of our lives. If we don’t have it in the area of eating, we don’t have it in other areas too – like sexual lusts, anger, greed, etc. Since self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, a lack of self-control is a lack of surrender.

Healthy Living: My Journey & Inconvenient Conviction

I’d like to be able to say that I have arrived in this area of my life. Lesson learned, checked it off my list and moved on to the next monumental life lesson God has for me. But it’s not been that simple. There’s no motivational book or work-out DVD that will change your life in 90 days or less. Like with any fundamentally-changing lesson, bad habits need to be broken, and healthy ones need to be established. But for me, it’s gone past the wanting to fit into a certain size or be a certain shape and turned into an inconvenient conviction. I say inconvenient because that’s exactly what it is. It’s not convenient to keep exercise a top priority; it’s not convenient to resist zipping through a fast food restaurant or not ordering exactly what appeals most to me on any given menu. It’s not convenient, but it is a conviction; and that changes everything!

When it comes to gluttony, there are so many arguments as to why it’s wrong. There’s the obvious, “Well, the Bible says so, that’s why!” And we all know, cognitively if not practically, that we should be taking care of our bodies, after all God cares about the sanctification of our bodies as well as our spirit (1 Thess 5:23-24). But for me and my inconvenient conviction, there were three specific truths on which God really dealt with me.

  • Being overweight is not how God intended us to be.

Our bodies, our hearts, our joints, our lungs, none of them were created to handle a person who is overweight. This isn’t how we were created (Genesis 1:31). This is why the more obese we get, the harder our bodies have to work, the more burdensome simple tasks are. We weren’t created to be overweight.

  • Being overweight is not being a good steward of what I’ve been given.

This one was painfully convicting for me. When it comes to being a good steward, so often our first thought goes to the stewardship of tangible things, our money, our possessions, our time, etc. I know for my budget and my time, I plan both of these out carefully. And yet how often do we sit down to a meal not even thinking twice that it may be our entire caloric intake for the day? I didn’t think about what I was eating, just that it tasted good….until God convicted me. God has given me this body, and I only get one while I’m here on earth. He’s entrusted it to me so that I can live this life to glorify Him, not so I can indulge its every whim, thereby, destroying it. We must be faithful stewards of ALL that God’s given to us, including our bodies (1 Cor. 4:2).

  • Being overweight is robbing God.

When I was a teenager, I gave God my life; it was His. But every day since then? I stole it back one day at a time by the way I was mistreating my body. I know God has a plan for my life, Psalm 139 tells me this plainly. But what if that plan requires me to live until I am old and gray, and my heart gives out before I get there? What if at 80, God has something extraordinary planned for me to accomplish for His kingdom? Wouldn’t it be tragic if I died at 65, simply because I wasn’t being a good steward of the one body, the one chance, I got. I would be robbing God…and ultimately myself of great ministry potential because I didn’t have enough self-discipline to lay off the Ranch dressing. I would be trading the beauty of a long ministry to God’s people for the instantaneous gratification of my own flesh. How selfish!

This is my inconvenient conviction.

I don’t tell you this story so you can look at my success and praise the efforts I’ve made. I don’t have a secret product, a shake, or a dietary supplement to suggest; partly because chocolate cake and Doritos aren’t the enemy here, our flesh is. Paul says, “I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body,” – 1 Corinthians 6:12-13.

My reason for sharing this is to plead with you: allow God to take you on your own journey. Look at your own life and don’t make the same mistakes I was. Statistically speaking, 2 out of 3 of you are. Figure out what your real reason is for being overweight or unhealthy. Then start seeing obesity and being overweight the way God does: as the sin of gluttony. See the body God has given you as a special commodity, treat it well, and be a good steward of what God has so graciously given you.

“I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Cor. 9:24-27

12 thoughts on “My Inconvenient Conviction

  1. Sarah, I am so proud of the way the Lord has been working in your heart and your body in the last 5 months. You have submitted yourself to His will for your life and it’s been amazing to see all the changes, inward and outward. Thank you for sharing your journey and God’s inconvenient conviction in your life!

    Love ya BFF! 🙂

    • Thank you, friend. You have been a great encouragement and accountability for me. I thank God for you. Thanks for being a patient friend as He’s working His will out in my life.

  2. I really appreciated this article and had some comments to make but I am hoping they won’t be misunderstood as disagreeing with what you said since I did find I had health issues that contributed to my weight problem. 🙂 It just reminded me of my own journey the last several years and I wanted to share for anyone who might find encouragement. For a great number of years I’ve struggled with seeing myself as anything but “fat”. I remember going on my first diet at about twelve or so. Looking back at photos I don’t think I really “needed” to diet but suffered from what I’m sure are very normal self esteem issues and I was the “largest” in my group of friends. Not to say that I was overweight then, but while my friends were wearing junior size clothes I was wearing misses, and then women’s. I was taller, my feet were “bigger” (I had size 10 feet by then and I’m certain most of my friends never moved past maybe an 8) and I felt fat.

    For the rest of my teenage years and into my twenties now I’ve struggled with my weight, but I think I become absorbed with it first and then the real fat came. I tried so many diets and the closer I got to 20 and the more I tried to diet the more weight I GAINED and it seemed all I thought about was dieting and how could I get “skinny”. Finally one day when I was about 21 I became so tired of it and I realized that I was way out of balance. I was spending FAR too much time and energy on what I should or shouldn’t be eating and not nearly as much time in comparison reading the Bible or focusing on my spiritual walk. I gave up that idol, the idea that I could achieve skinny (and in my mind beautiful) and decided I was going to focus on God first. Over the next couple of years I just tried to eat normally, whatever my family was eating I ate and tried to do so in normal quantities (not to either gorge or starve myself). I joined a gym and tried to just be more healthy and not just skinny. Over the course of a year or two I had come down about 10 lbs and lost a dress size. I was far from being in the proper weight range but I felt so much more free.

    Some little health issues began to pop up so I decided to go to my doctor where I found out my thyroid was a bit sluggish. There were some other little things like food sensitivities we discovered and once I began treatment for those things suddenly the weight began to melt off. In six months I lost about 40 lbs. My BMI is now in a healthy range and I’m wearing a size 14 for the first time since I was about 15 years old! I’m still overweight range but I’m so much healthier now than I was a year ago, I had no idea how badly I felt before until I started feeling better. It was such a relief to me to find out there was a reason none of the diets worked and in fact seemed to have the opposite effect than intended, and that I wasn’t just a lazy fat person. At the same time I did allow it to become too high of a focus for me and I think God wanted me to deal with that.

    My weight loss hit kind of a plateau at the beginning of this year but I haven’t been as faithful to the diet as I was before and I hope to be better about that and maybe lose 40 more. If anyone out there is struggling with weight that doesn’t seem to respond to eating healthy and exercising, I highly encourage you to go to your doctor. Maybe you have extra challenges too and once you know what they are you can know how to work with your body to be more healthy and better glorify the Lord. It seems cliché but I really have found when you are doing things for the right reason it is sometimes easier. 🙂

    • Megan –

      Thank you so much for your response and telling us about your journey. I don’t think you’re disagreeing with me at all. In fact, I think your life is a powerful testament to what I am saying. There are real reasons why people are overweight, and the first step in living a healthy lifestyle is finding out what those reasons are so that you can address them, whether they be physical, medical, emotional, or spiritual. Praise God also that you chose not to live the life predisposed to you by your medical conditions, you are living above those circumstances and living out 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Keep it up, and may God get the glory!! 🙂

  3. This post comes the day after I struggled (and failed) a battle with my flesh over the same issue – food choice! Thank you for the gentle, yet firm, encouragement to confess our faults, accept God’s forgiveness and move forward in a life that pleases Him!

    • 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.” – Lamentations 3:22-24

      Praise God for each new morning to wake up and make wiser choices than the day before. God’s mercies NEVER come to an end! 🙂

  4. Praying for you dear friend! 🙂 I miss you! We arrive back in Ft. Worth in about three weeks and I was thinking we need to hang out.

    It is very evident that the Lord is working! You are an encouragement and I ADORE you!

    • We do need to hang out. I needs some Brandy-time! 🙂 But please bring your little tyke, cause he’s such a super cute baby! I am in NY for the week right before school starts up, so text me when you get back to town, and we’ll set up a time to meet.

  5. Sarah, What a great testimony to how God is working in your life, and working in others through you. Thank you for your honesty and transparency. I have struggled with this as well, ever since I was a young child. Further, I know what it takes to lose weight and keep it off as I did it in college. I was still overweight, but under 200 pounds. However, when my father got sick with cancer, and then died, the pounds came back. I’ve been trying to claw my way back to the top since then, giving in willingly many times. However, I know it is dishonoring to God, and keeping me from being completely available. I know that I cannot do it in my strenth. Iknow that if God can help me to stop using credit cards, that he can help me control my flesh. Thanks again.

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