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faithfully fitA 40-Day Devotional Plan to End the Yo-Yo Lifestyle of Chronic Dieting
By CLAIRE CLONINGER LAURA BARR
W Publishing GroupCopyright © 2007 Claire Cloninger & Laura Barr
All right reserved.
Chapter Oneweek one: surrender
sur·ren·der (s ren' d r), v. 1. to give up possession of. 2. to abandon or relinquish control. 3. to give oneself up, esp. as a prisoner.
Chances are you've tried more than once to be in total control of your eating. And chances are, if you're like most dieters, more than once you've ended up totally out of control.
A good way to begin being Faithfully Fit is to surrender the control of your eating to God. He is able to do "much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20). When we begin really trusting him, he is able to accomplish in us what we have been unable to accomplish in ourselves.
Surrender is not a onetime thing; it is an ongoing process. The Lord is constantly showing us new areas we are holding back from his control. Perhaps eating is for you (as it is for us) one of the more difficult areas to release. Confess this to God, and he will help you begin to let go. We both find a need to surrender our eating to God every morning. In fact, lots of days we have to consciously surrender at each meal!
We suggest that you use Week One as an opportunity to focus on the spiritual discipline of surrender. Find out what it really means to you. How willing have you been in the past to let God be in control? How seriously have you taken your need to allow him to work in you? (Perhaps you've never really tried it before.)
Begin now by looking for ways to make each day more God-directed, especially in the areas of eating and exercise.
Lord, I'm putting up the white flag, throwing down my pride, Wholly and completely sold out to your side. I'm putting up the white flag; it's what I want to do. I'm surrendering my whole life, Surrendering my whole life, Lord, to you.
There's been a battle here inside me ever since I can recall, Since I heard you asking me to let you have it all. Now I wonder why I fought you, tried to do things my own way, When the joy is in surrendering and coming home to stay.
Well, it took some time to see it, to really understand I'm only giving back to you the works of your own hand. You designed me and you made me to use in your own way, So I'm trusting you to take my life and use it every day.
-Claire Cloninger and David Baroni
day 1: surrender the problem eater
Who is the problem eater? Is he the fat little fourth grader gobbling Twinkies? Is she the overweight homemaker with an addiction to cheesecake? What about the executive with the soaring cholesterol count, or the bulimic or anorexic teenager who is killing herself to be thin?
The answer is yes. All of the above.
But problem eating extends well beyond these neat stereotypes. There are Americans of all shapes, sizes, sexes, ages, and walks of life struggling with what they choose to chew.
For the purposes of this book, we will define the problem eater as (1) anyone whose eating behavior puts his or her health at risk, (2) anyone whose diet and eating behavior is consistently out of line with what he or she believes is best, (3) anyone who consistently goes against his or her own intentions in the area of diet and nutrition, and/or (4) anyone who is controlled by an obsession with food and dieting.
At times it seems that much of our culture has developed a problem with food. We have been amazed at how many different people-men, women, and teenagers-upon finding out about this book, have commented, "Send me your first copy! I need it!"
How can there be one answer for so many different kinds of problem eaters? There are many different approaches to diet and exercise, many schools of thought on how behavior can be changed. But in the spiritual realm the answers are amazingly similar and remarkably simple. And admitting our need for God and surrendering our lives to him and his perfect will for us is always the starting place-the first step to healing any destructive habit in our lives.
Earlier this week we watched a TV special entitled "Deadly Addictions." This program took a comprehensive look at many kinds of addictions, including classic eating disorders, and it included interviews with many recovering addicts. Amazingly, whether the problem was with gambling, eating, sex, or alcohol, almost every addict admitted that the turning point in conquering his or her addiction came as a result of surrendering to "a higher power."
How blessed we are to know our "Higher Power" on a first-name basis! His name is Jesus Christ. He is the one who stands with arms outstretched to each of us, saying, "Come unto me" (see today's Scripture reading).
Whether you have a hundred pounds to lose or ten, whether you have a serious eating disorder or just an old-fashioned tendency toward second helpings-whatever your eating problem, great or small-healing begins when you surrender to the lordship and loving guidance of Jesus Christ. He will lead each of us personally and individually into the way of healing that is tailor-made for us.
Father, I thank you that you are a God of healing, a God who desires our wholeness and health. Jesus, I thank you for your open arms and your standing invitation to "give all [our] worries" to you (1 Pet. 5:7). I am so weary of this problem with food. And I admit to you that it is something I have not been able to solve on my own. So I surrender, Lord. I cast this problem on you, and I invite you to take over in my life. Fill me with your radiant good health. Help me to want your will for me. I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:30)
Food for Thought
Jesus is the source of my health and my healing.
1. In the Journal section of your notebook, record your feelings about this journey you are beginning. Don't be surprised if you are experiencing a real mixture of feelings: hope, fear, excitement, faith, doubt. When you have finished, imagine yourself wrapping up whatever feelings you have expressed, placing them on God's altar, and surrendering them to him.
2. Chances are, you see yourself as a problem eater. Thoughtfully explore the basic problem you have with food, and enter a simple description of that problem into the Insights section of your notebook.
3. If you have decided to use the buddy system as you go through the next six weeks, try to get together today; if you can't, set a time to do it. During your time together, express hopes, fears, and expectations. Talk about goals and plans. Be sure to begin and end your visit with prayer!
day 2: surrender the problem is me
When you live on the Gulf Coast, you tend to mark the years of your life by the hurricanes you've endured. I have vivid memories of Hurricane Frederick, one of the most ferocious natural disasters ever to hit Mobile, Alabama. Just in our yard alone, eight trees were ripped out of the ground or snapped off like toothpicks, and two of them came through the roof of our house! Multiply that by the length and breadth and population of a city of 350,000 people, and you're talking about some damage.
There's nothing like a natural disaster to get us in touch with the fact that we're really not as in control of things as we'd like to think we are. I've never felt quite so small and helpless as I did on that September night with the 180-mile-an-hour winds whistling around our house.
But I can name another natural disaster that threatened to do more damage to me, and over a longer period of time, than Frederick ever did. That uncontrollable storm was that of my own selfishness, fueled by the winds of my own ego. As a young wife and mother, I yearned to have a blissful home life and a perfect marriage. And I tried-I really did. But time and again, the storms of my own selfishness threatened to blow my house down!
Looking back on those stormy times, I'm glad that I was forced to face my own powerlessness over myself. For it was this very revelation that let me know my need for God.
English writer G. K. Chesterton must have had something of the same insight in his life. Once, when asked by the London Times to contribute an essay on the topic "What Is the Problem in the Universe?" he mailed in this succinct reply: "I am. Sincerely, G. K. Chesterton."
Or as the cartoon character Pogo once wryly observed, "We have met the enemy, and he is us!"
Many of us have spent valuable time and energy trying to deny that the problem is us. We delude ourselves into thinking that if we had a different job, mate, parents, or children, or if we could only move to a different neighborhood or a different town, things would change for the better. That if we had a different figure, body type, or metabolic rate, we would at last be happy.
Real growth begins when we are willing to see that all these circumstances are only externals. Real healing begins when we can at last see ourselves as the problem and the love of God as the answer. Until we come to this crisis of faith, we are dealing only with symptoms. We are putting Band-Aids on cancer. We are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
God cares deeply about our struggle with eating and exercise, but not because he is interested in what size blue jeans we can fit into. He sees our reckless eating as the symptom of a deeper despair, and he wants to heal us. But it is only when we stop denying and start surrendering that he can begin. Only then will we see that outer layer of delusion (and fat) begin to dissolve at last.
Lord, I know you are showing me where the problem lies. It lies in me. Thank you for helping me come to a place of surrender. I know that I need strength and power beyond myself if I really want to change. Please help me, Lord. I am bundling up all my defenses and rationalizations and excuses and laying them on your altar of love. In faith, I am stepping over that line now and asking you, Lord, to be in control. I surrender to you, Father. In Jesus' name, Amen.
What a miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death? I thank God for saving me through Jesus our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)
Food for Thought
Real change can begin when we are willing to see ourselves as the problem and the love of God as the answer.
1. During your quiet time, tell the Lord you are willing to stop blaming other things in your life and take responsibility for changing your eating behavior. Thank him for his help.
2. In the Journal section of your notebook, write how you may have been the problem in your own life. Write down any Aha! discoveries in the Insights section of your notebook. You may wish to use your journal as a tool for confession. We can be confident that when "we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done" (1 John 1:9).
3. As you exercise today, be aware that God is with you. Offer your time of exercise as a physical expression of thanksgiving and surrender.
day 3: surrender a matter of control
I remember when our oldest son, Curt, was a toddler just learning the meaning of "no." One afternoon, while playing outside, he discovered a line of ants busily crossing the front walk. At last! Here was something smaller than he was. He grabbed a stick and, with all the authority of a controlling adult, began shaking it at the ants, shouting, "No-no, no-no, no-no!"
I believe the definitive temptation of our humanity is to try to control our lives-and, at times, everyone else's! Our urge to control began as long ago and far away as the Garden of Eden.
God told Adam and Eve, "Leave it to me. I'll handle the details. You just enjoy. Just name the animals and walk in the cool of the day and that type of thing."
But the serpent told this first man and woman that God was trying to put one over on them-and that they didn't have to put up with it. If they'd just take a tiny nibble of what was forbidden, they could be in control; they could be the gods of their own lives. That sounded good to Adam and Eve. So they bit.
The story of Mary in the Bible is quite different. The angel said to Mary, "God wants to bless you." Mary was a little confused about how that was going to take place. The angel said, "Not to worry. The Holy Spirit will take care of the whole thing, if you're willing." So Mary said, "Let this happen to me as you say!" (Luke 1:38).
Now each one of us faces the same choice. Will we let God do what he wants to do in us, or will we insist on trying to do it-our way? Adam and Eve ended up naked and afraid. Mary ended up filled with God. But choosing Mary's way means being willing to agree with the fact that we're pretty powerless. It means going with God.
The life of Jesus is a model of powerlessness. He chose to divest himself of all power to come to us as a defenseless baby. And at the end of his earthly life, he chose the cross-the ultimate picture of powerlessness. He was nailed up naked, alone, at the mercy of the Romans and the crowd-to the human eye, utterly hopeless. Although the humanity in him struggled against such submission to God's will, in the end, submission was the way he took. He chose powerlessness so that God's power could be shown through him.
So many times, I realize that my struggle with overeating is really a control issue. Where eating is concerned, I want to say, "Nobody's gonna tell me what to do!" But healing can start only when I let go of the reins and stop battling for ultimate authority in my life.
Nobody really loves feeling out of control, but I have learned that agreeing with my powerlessness brings freedom from compulsive behavior. Why? Because it lines me up with the truth of who I am: a created being designed to walk in perfect harmony with my Creator. Perfect harmony means he calls the shots and I get a good night's sleep. He leads the way, and I learn how to follow. That's the truth, and it really does bring freedom.
There is also tremendous joy in giving over control of our lives to a loving God. Choosing to die to our own way-our whims, urges, and compulsions-brings us to life in a way we never knew was possible. Admitting powerlessness gets our egos out of the way so God's power can operate in us.
Father, thank you for your design. Thank you that I don't have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Thank you that you desire to call the shots in my life. And I ask you to take over. I yield the controls of my life to you, especially in my eating. Admitting my weakness, I look to you for strength. You know what is best. Change me from within by the power of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10 NIV)
Food for Thought
There is tremendous joy in trusting my life to a loving God.
1. In the Journal section of your notebook, list all of the areas of your life in which you are willing to admit your own powerlessness. You may wish to include incidents in your past that you can't change, things in your future you do not yet know, your heritage, your genetic makeup (including height, coloring, IQ, and so forth), any aspect of your looks that you dislike, other people in your life, and your baffling behavior in the area of eating.
2. By now you should be ready to state several specific goals related to eating and exercise-goals to be accomplished during this six-week period. You may wish to discuss them with your prayer partner or group. Write them out in the Goals section of your notebook, and be sure to word them very positively.
3. Consider: compulsive overeating is often a form of rebellion. We like to think that the rules do not apply to us, that we can operate outside the facts and realities of calories, metabolism, and weight gain. When we rebel against controlled eating in any form, we are actually rebelling against rules and authorities, against other people, against ourselves, and against God. What part does rebellion play in your eating problem? Write down your insights in your notebook.
Excerpted from faithfully fit by CLAIRE CLONINGER LAURA BARR Copyright © 2007 by Claire Cloninger & Laura Barr. Excerpted by permission.
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