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  • Writer's pictureJanean Tinsley

Food. Necessary Evil?

For weeks I have put off writing this blog. I get started then erase it and walk away. But here I sit once again so …

I am overweight.

There. I said it. Actually, I never made it to that statement before when I tried to write this one so there’s a step forward! Seriously, I am overweight. And it’s become something that I can no longer ignore or convince myself that it’s not really that bad. It IS really that bad and it’s time I acknowledge it so I can make some significant changes in my life.

As with 99% of you, 2020 has not been kind. In fact, 2020 has become my favorite four-letter word — “What the 2020?” is my personal favorite. Some of you may have seen the jumanji memes about this year on social media. We laugh about those but seriously, each month seems to bring some new level of awful to navigate. Add to that my own personal tribulations and it’s been a year made for horror movies or, at least, psychological thrillers.

Beginning about mid-year 2019, I found myself slipping into a deep state of depression which only increased my anxiety. Before you ask, yes, I am a therapist. I’m a trauma specialist, actually. So I know what extreme stress and anxiety can do to the body. Yes, I know all of the tools I should use. No, I do not take my own advice very often, thank you very much.

As 2019 wound down, I saw myself going deeper into a void that I filled with food. The more numb I became, the more I used food to feel…anything. Little did I know that by ignoring the depression when it began, I was setting myself up for a spiral unlike anything I had experienced before.

I’m not going to get into everything that has happened this year in my personal life. Suffice it to say, it’s been a year of pain, betrayal, and loneliness. I’m so very grateful for a husband who has stood by me through it all, even carrying some of the pain himself. Regardless of the cause, the result was a deep depression that became quite suffocating. I pushed away friends, family, and, most importantly, God. Instead of pouring it all out to Him, I allowed the crevasse in my soul to grow wider and deeper with each passing day, filling it with the only thing that seemed to bring me any comfort. Food. It’s not like I was drinking or getting high so it can’t be that bad, right? [Insert shoulder shrug here]

Food has been for me a love/hate thing most of my life. I have watched women struggle with the pleasure of eating versus the expectation of a certain weight. I know what it is like to pick at your food around friends only to sneak unhealthy snacks when no one is looking (judging). I have battled the pleasure of eating with the guilt of eating and I have lived with an eating disorder after my “friends” made fun of my appearance one too many times. I can honestly say I have never looked in the mirror and said, “I’m pretty” or “I really love the way I look.” Most of my thoughts about myself are not really G-rated so I’m not going to put them out here on social media. Can you relate?

The love/hate of food has only escalated this year. I noticed early 2020 that I was consuming more sugary beverages than I used to but I didn’t make any changes. Then after an abrupt change in my life which resulted in threats, harmful letters, and humiliation, I found a sense of loneliness that pushed me beyond anything I had felt in my life. Add to that the mandatory isolation because of Covid-19 and the result was an eating binge that would last seven months and a weight gain of more than 20 pounds.

Now, let’s get to the truth of things. No one is at fault except me. I don’t blame my circumstances, my losses, or my depression on my weight gain. The only blame to be placed is me. I made a choice – replace God with instant pleasure. I wanted to fill a void that was so painful, so empty. And I wanted it filled immediately with something I could “control.” Food became that source of fulfillment. Unfortunately, as we all know, anything outside of God is only temporary and will always lead to emptiness. This situation is no different.

Recently, I had an invitation to go out with some folks. I turned it down. Why? I didn’t want anyone to see me. I am embarrassed of myself and the way I look. This summer, my husband and I joined a boat club. I have always loved the water and it’s one of very few places that bring me complete contentment. I have only invited a couple of people on the boat with us, not because I don’t want people to go. No no. It’s because I am too embarrassed for people to see me. I worry constantly about running into people I haven’t seen in a while when I go out because my fear is the judgement or pity in their eyes when they look my way. The anxiety I feel becomes the thing from my childhood all over again. It’s debilitating and I have to pretend to be okay all of the time.

I read a book several years ago called, God Loves Ugly by Christa Black. There was a statement the author wrote that has always stuck with me. “Your body is a house, and that house provides a means of carrying around the most precious cargo in the universe: you.” Well, my house has been really messy for about a year now and it’s time I cleaned it up.

1 Corinthians 6 is quite implicit about this.

13 You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!

14-15 God honored the Master’s body by raising it from the grave. He’ll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body. You wouldn’t take the Master’s body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not.

19-20 Or, didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

I cannot begin to tell you how these words seep into my soul and cause me unrest. I have not honored God because I have not honored my body. I have given God my soul but kept my physical body to myself, mistreating it, criticizing it, and neglecting it. And that is a sin. A sin that I have allowed to grow and fester.

I truly do not want to have anything separate me from God. I cannot live into the redeemed identity Christ gave me if I am living with one foot in and one foot out of a Christ-given life. Unfortunately, I do not think I can change on my own. In fact, I know I can’t.

Ecclesiastes 4:

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

I have a dear friend who has already been part of my cord. She encourages without judging. She shakes her finger without condemning. And she helps me laugh when I want to cry. I mentioned that I needed to drink more water. Without another word, she bought me this water bottle.

But it’s not just any bottle. It’s a constant cheerleader, reminding me to not give up. It’s a little thing but actually quite huge. And it’s a step for me.

I know that to be accountable, I have to be completely honest. So that is the reason behind this post. I am about to do the one thing I never believed I could ever do…

I weigh 181.4 pounds. I have a BMI of 32. I am considered obese. I think I’m ugly.

But God thinks I am beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that he died for me! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17)

Praise be to God!

I proclaim in the name of Jesus Christ that I am ready to make a change. I am no longer going to use food as substitute for the Holy Spirit. I am no longer going to use food a source of comfort for difficult periods in my life. I am going to use food for fuel, thankful to God for sustaining me each day. I am going to learn to love myself so that I can fully love others and receive the love others have to give me. I am ready. If you are ready to make a change in your life, give something sinful up, surrender to God, and embrace the new life that has come, join me. It’s a journey meant to be traveled together!

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