In my pride, I wish I could do it all on my own, but it really does take a community. I thank God for the First Place for Health.
It was January and the scales read over 200 pounds once again. I looked to the heavens and cried out to God, “Is this the only thing You cannot deliver me from? Is gluttony the ‘thorn in the flesh’ that I will have to deal with all of my life?” God, in His gracious and benevolent way, very quickly corrected me about a few things. Number one, there is nothing from which He cannot deliver me. Number two, He desired my cooperation in this process by pushing away from the table sooner, making wiser choices in my food and to exercise. Number three, food had become my idol and replaced Him.
I was lonely. A typical evening for me after I moved to a new city was to swing past the Mediterranean buffet place and overeat, go home and call my friends and whine about how miserable I was. I ran to food for comfort, security and entertainment. Lastly, He told me that He desired me to want to be healthy and skinnier, not because I would be cute but because my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. My motivation needed to be an inward change that would please the Heavenly Father rather than an outward change that would please “some man.”
So after much confessing and repenting, I started on a 1400 calorie diet, enlisted a personal trainer and began working out 7 or 8 times a week. Over the next 5 months, I lost 15 pounds, but then I just stagnated. I was still tracking at 1400 calories and working out, but the weight was not coming off. At the first of August, the director of the First Place ministry at my church asked if I would be a First Place Leader the next semester. This was not a total surprise since I had served in this role many years back.
As I mentioned, 1400 calories was not a problem for me – the problem was BREADS – my personal drug of choice. Since abstinence is easier than balance, I simply had eaten no carbs or very little carbs for months. As I re-familiarized myself with the Live-It plan, I knew I would need to incorporate breads into my life so that I could have a balanced diet. To my surprise and joy, the pounds began to drop. I not only added the bread back into my diet, but started really focusing on Scripture memory. By the middle of October, I had lost another 20 pounds, memorized 80 scriptures and gained life-long friends!
The weight loss provided me with opportunities to speak on the grace of God. People would ask, “How did it happen?” “How did you do it?” It pleased the Lord for me to say, “God delivered me.” Food was no longer my best friend, my god, or the teddy bear I ran to when I needed comfort. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I was given the ability to say no to ungodliness (i.e.: gluttonous eating; rich, unhealthy foods or eating when not hungry) and say yes to buffeting my body and making it my slave. I was free – but it’s still a daily process.
The manifestation of the true deliverance comes not when I reach the goal, but when I maintain the goal. For most of us, the problem is not losing the weight, it is maintaining the weight. This is where lifelong friends became critical. I am so grateful that the Bible tells us that “…iron sharpens iron…” (Prov. 27:17) and that “…the blows of friends are better than the kisses of enemies.” (Prov. 27:6) To help me live out this lifestyle of deliverance, God provided three friendships that at times caused sparks to fly and felt more like a wound than a kiss but I knew that they were true friends and that they only had my best interests in mind.
First, there was Carole – a wiser, older woman who had lived this lifestyle of health for many years. She was giving her adult children the greatest gift that she could give them – her good health. We would meet as often as possible – usually each weekday – to exercise, quote memory verses and always close out our time together in prayer. We saw many quick answers to these prayers and I believe that our sacrifice of exercise may have moved the hand of God in a faster way.
Another godly friend was Vicki. God used her in my life to help me remember who I was not. I was no longer a fuzzy, ground-crawling caterpillar, but I was transformed into a beautiful monarch butterfly! She did this in many different ways, but one of the greatest ways was by helping me shop and pick out clothes. That’s what girlfriends do, right?
Another lifelong friend God brought into my life was Karrie. Those that know me knew how strong-willed and stubborn I was and that I needed a full-time Nathan in my life. Nathans are those people in your life who point out sin and weakness, but then walk along beside you to help you make it right. Even though Karrie lives hundreds of miles away from me, she’s the one where I fax my CR. She’s the one who contacts me and asks me if I exercised that day. No one in their right mind would go seeking a Nathan, but when you have one, you realize they really are a blessing.
In my pride, I wish I could do it all on my own, but it really does take a community. I thank God for the First Place 4 Health community. It makes deliverance, freedom and abundant living not just a theological concept, but a day in and day out reality. I am still a work in progress, but I am not where I used to be. And through God’s grace and the gift of accountability, I will never go back to that place again.