There is a saying I’ve heard in a song and in many messages: “It’s not about you; it’s about Jesus.” I don’t remember the first time I heard this, but each time I did hear it, I was annoyed. I had come to believe the lie of the enemy that “it is all about me: what I want, how I want it, what I think and more importantly, how I want to do it.” So in 2011, I wanted to lose weight; I had done it before (eat less, exercise more), but this time God had a different way.
I will start with the way I did it before. In August 2003, after 12yrs of school, college, medical school and residency, with lots of late night snacking on fried wings, free pizza, calzones, French fries and ice cream, I found myself with more than the “freshmen 15.” I weighed 169.6 lbs; I remember being happy I wasn’t 170 lbs. I moved toAlbuquerque,NM, a new beginning, and I wanted a new body. I started reading about Atkins diet and did my induction phase. Of course, I did the program perfectly because I am a “melancholy.” I exercised faithfully, sometimes up to 90 minutes a day, and the weight came off. After 6-7 months I reached 140 lbs. I gradually balanced my eating again, kept exercising and maintain my weight loss for five years.
At this point in my life there was no consideration of Jesus; this was all about me. I was raised in church and was baptized twice; I went to church regularly (revivals, prayer meetings), occasionally read my Bible and prayed when I needed something. At 16, I decided I couldn’t be a perfect Christian, so there was no point in continuing church attendance. Besides, it was interfering with my school work. I proceeded to live the next 15 years in my own strength. I am amazed now, as I look back, that God let me, but He also kept me during that time.
God started to draw me back to Him in 2004, letting me know that “it was not about me.” In little and big ways He showed me his power, love and care. God used the things I was watching and reading to speak to me. What an awesome God I serve. He knows exactly what I need.
I left my job and moved back to Boston in June 2005, to take care of my three nephews. My sister (their mother) had passed away. God used them to draw me back to church and to Himself. In 2008, I married my husband, Domingo, who had already been on his own health discovery journey. When God brought us together, he gave me the encouragement and help I needed to go forward with something God had lain on my heart: start a health ministry. Even before we were married, we led workshops on nutrition, exercise, diabetes and various health topics. Back in 2007, I started thinking and praying about a weight-loss program. I had no idea that FP4H existed until I opened the Christian Book Distributors catalog. I looked in their little section on “health” and saw several options, including FP4H. I must have left that catalog opened on my table for a month, until I ordered the Leader Kit. When it came, I opened it, looked at all the books, closed it and put it in my closet. I wasn’t ready yet.
Then life happened after marriage, I had two babies in four years and I was up to 159.6 lbs. I knew I needed to lose weight, but by this time I had learned it wasn’t just about me. God wanted me to include other people in the journey. As I told our very first group, I knew I could lose weight on my own, but the great thing about the FP4H program was that we could do it together. I came across this African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go with others.” I felt God was calling me to go far. I followed the guidelines in the leader guide that advised you to speak to your pastor. God moved again, because even before I talked to Pastor, He sent Shareen as co-leader.
Our first group met on July 2, 2011, with 22 members. We started with a six-week study, with my goal to lose 5 pounds that session. I gained 1.8 lbs. the first four weeks and ended up losing 1.6 lbs. It definitely wasn’t easy this time around; there was no quick fix. I had to start where God wanted me to start and that was with facing my emotional baggage. But for the first one and one-half session, I ignored the emotional mapping, and my weight bounced all over the place (ups and downs). When we covered emotions again in the middle of the second session, I did my mapping. As I look back on my weight record, I saw from that week I progressively lost 1-2 lbs. a week (couple of exceptions) so that by the end of that session, I was 9.6 lbs down from my starting weight. Then in the next session I lost 6.6 lbs. I continued to steadily lose weight until March 31, 2013, when I weighed in at 134 lbs—I had reached my goal weight.
It is amazing how God used the Bible studies. Each session study fit in exactly with whatever was going on in my life at the time. When I reached 140 lbs. and wanted to settle, God used the Bible study we were doing God’s Best for Your Life to show me that it was not an impossible goal. Yes, I was fine at 140 lbs., but that was not His best for me. With the next study Motivated to Wellness, I switched my exercise routine and followed the guideline in Don’t Quit, Get Fit to start running. I have since run several 5Ks—finishing each successfully, alive and breathing. :).
It is great to be at goal, but the process of getting here this time has helped me to grow spiritually, emotionally and mentally. God has drawn me closer to Himself. He has stretched me by enabling me to reach out to others in ways I thought I couldn’t do. I have redone my emotional mapping three times, because God is revealing issues to me as I am able to handle them. He has called me to higher heights in Him by transforming my mind. The Lord has done and is doing great things for me and I am filled with joy (Psalm 126:3). To God be the glory for the great things He has done.