Reflections on 'Made To Crave' by Lysa TerKeurst
Okay, so I've got my guidelines of healthy, common sense, eating set and I am trying to live by them. On one hand it is very freeing - the struggle to determine what I should and should not eat was taking up a lot of emotional energy. Also I can avoid the guilt and other fall-out feelings that happened when I would rationalize my way into eating things I was unsure of. Now, when faced with a food decision, I can determine if it fits into my healthy eating parameters easily. I can avoid doing damaging things like eating when I am already full. I also have been making sure I eat small meals often and that I have regular protein so that I do not mess up my blood sugar and hypoglycemia. This has had the happy result of me feeling much better physically. It is very nice to not feel sick or dizzy, or that yukky feeling when you overeat and are uncomfortable. These have been very good things that I am praising God for.
However, there are still some foods that, though they are not within my healthy eating limits, I crave hard core. It has been hard emotionally to say no to these things. If I am not going to get to eat them I feel a desperation and fear. I also have realized that I feel I deserve and need the treats. Somehow in my brain I have tied treats to celebrations, rewards, or the way to cheer up if I am having a bad day. If I attempt to do any of these things without treats it just feels very wrong. My mind really believes that the excessive treats will make me happy and inversely, if I do not get the treats, I will become depressed.
I recently attended my daughters public speaking contest. While the judges deliberated following the speeches, mounds of donuts - sweet soft donuts - were provided! Donuts were not within my healthy eating parameters for that day as I had my one gluten choice for the week. Because I had determined clear guidelines I knew that if I was to obey God and stay on the healthy eating wagon I need to not have a donut. But everyone around me was eating them and that was not fair. I deserved one as much as any of them. The apple I had wisely brought to eat as a healthy option was tasting like dust in my mouth.
I felt like I needed to celebrate with my daughter because she did a good job on her speech. I also felt I deserved a reward for making it through and enduring a headache. It was crazy how powerful and painful my emotional need for that donut was. My apple was not working as well as I thought it would in the fight against sugar and fat but I had another weapon in my arsenal.
In the Bible study, Made to Crave, I had learned about how my thoughts can be based on lies. The idea that I needed that donut or that I could not celebrate without a treat - that idea is a lie. Also the idea that I could not reward myself without sugar or that if I denied myself sugar I would fall into a depression also were lies. That donut was not my only option to find joy or peace. Part of my brain still has trouble and believes these things are true, but the truth is that God is my source of joy and peace and He can enable me to celebrate and reward myself without food. He is a big Awesome God and He is not limited to food as His only way to make me happy. This is still very hard for me to absorb though. I struggle with depression and have been using food as my go-to option for years. This is a habit, like a drug habit or a smoking habit, and I feel such crazy pull to the donut. I feel life will not be worth living if I do not get that donut.
But in the Bible Study I learned not only to distinguish the lies, but to fight them with the truth found in Scripture. I had already found a Scripture in Proverbs to fight the particular lies that I was being faced with in that moment.
"He who deals wisely and heeds God's word and counsel shall find good, and whoever leans on, trusts in and is confident in the Lord - happy blessed and fortunate is He." Proverbs 16:20
The path to true good and happiness is not found in disobeying God but in following the guidelines He had already given me about what food was wise for me to eat. Also I realized that maybe all along, the donuts in my life had not filled me with the lasting joy and happiness I was looking for. The donut would give me a few seconds of bliss while it was in my mouth but then it would make me sick for a few hours because of my allergies. This is why God has given me the guideline to avoid gluten and sugar. Also one donut would not really be enough. I would be frustrated and wanting more instead of satisfied and experiencing peace. The idea that huge amounts of sugar and fat is my go-to for instant happiness is the lie. The truth is that God is my go-to for all happiness and peace and that trying to make other things that just leads to addiction and despair. I was made to crave God, and if I replace my craving with anything other than God - including food - it results in this whole struggle I find myself in now with the donut.
To get out of this vortex of craving food and then crashing over food that is not good for me, I am going to need some serious power. Serious power is exactly what God has huge amounts of and a food addiction is no match for God Almighty. However, if I attempt to overcome this without God I am beat before I even begin, as my vast past failures can attest to.
I need God. I need to stay close to God! I need God to teach me how to meet my need for happiness and peace through God-approved ways. When I put food above God in my life it does not give me that happiness and peace. I am running after a lie and the result is sickness, guilt, and frustration - all in exchange for a few seconds of chewing!
So I leaned on God and He enabled me to say no to the donut. (Actually I had to say no to the donut about 21 times before I finally was able to get out of the donut-infested building.) I still craved the donut and it did make part of me unhappy to not be able to put it in my mouth, but my spirit was exhilarated. This is not a quick fix: God is going to have to completely reprogram how I think. I am going to have to keep replacing the lies with truth. I am going to have to learn to crave God first, and look to Him to meet my needs instead of food. I have a lifetime of attempting to get my satisfaction and peace out of what I eat. Even though it has not worked so far, part of me still wants to cling to the lie and try that donut one more time. So I now have my truth scripture from Proverbs 16:20 on a cue card and my goal is to memorize it - to get the truth deep in my heart, and from now on, to face every treat with God as my help and the truth as my weapon.
Join me again next week as I continue this food adventure with God.
Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years. You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith.