Thursday, April 15, 2010

Did I just lie to God??!!

Yesterday I wrote that I was going to start a series of posts on The Unmerciful Servant today. I lied. Okay, it wasn't so much a lie as a premature announcement. I am going to be writing about The Unmerciful Servant, probably tomorrow (See? I'm learning to be cautious with the announcements). Today, I want to write about something that happened when I was talking to God yesterday morning. I am enjoying being able to write a series of blog posts on one subject, but every once in a while something happens that requires a bit of an interruption in the flow of things.

So, yesterday morning I was lying in bed talking to God about my upcoming day, and some issues He and I have been having. I have mentioned my problem with gluttony. To be clear, gluttony is eating more food than the body requires. It's that simple. It has nothing to do with quality of food. It is greed, for quantity. Its rally cry is "I want more." The human body does this wonderful thing to let us know when we should eat, and when we should stop eating. We get hungry. Stomach-growling, hollow, empty hungry. And then we get full. Politely, "still able to bend over and touch our toes" full. Wanting to eat is not being hungry. Hunger does not present itself in the mouth or throat. Feeling like eating is not hunger. Hunger is a purely physical thing. Eating without being hungry, or eating past the point of politely full is gluttony. And I struggle with this.

I alternate between obeying God and only eating within the boundaries of hunger and fullness, consequently losing weight, and disobeying God which more mostly involves eating past hunger and gaining weight. Lately, I have been obeying. I pray every morning for strength to obey God, and I was doing this yesterday morning. I told God that I wanted to obey Him, that I loved Him and wanted to please Him more than anything. Then I had a thought. Do I? Do I want to obey Him in this matter, more than anything? If I don't, He knows it. If I don't, I am lying to Him, to His face, and He knows it. I froze at the very thought of it. In my prayers, in my mind, I just stood and looked at Him. Stunned. And to be perfectly honest, the thought that went through my mind was, I think I am trying to deceive God. Only, the word that came to mind was a bit harsher than that and involved bull manure.

In Jeremiah 17:9 - 10, the prophet Jeremiah asks, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

God has an answer, "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

God knows whether or not my heart's desire is to truly obey Him, or whether I am just wanting to avoid the consequences of not obeying Him. If I was obeying Him out of love, then the obeying is enough. I wouldn't be so focused on being free from the consequences of disobeying. I would be satisfied with the fact that my obedience pleased Him, without wringing my hands in anticipation of the reward.

I was stunned. And a little ill. I did the only thing I could think of doing. I went to God for help. Over the years, I have learned to go to God for pretty much everything. It's a hard habit to break. Not that I want to break it, mind you. And so, even when the screw up directly involves God, my first instinct is to go to Him for help. It's a good instinct. I told Him that I didn't think I was being honest with Him. I actually asked Him if I was being honest with Him, as He know my heart better than I do. There are some things, though, that He likes us to find out for ourselves. I told Him that I think I really, really do want to please Him, that I do love Him, and do want to obey Him, but that I didn't think I wanted to obey Him more than anything. Then, I asked Him to help me to want to want to obey Him more than anything. No, that's not a typo. God is the master heart changer. I know this for a fact. And I know that my wanting to want to please Him more than anything is evidence of my love for Him, and He honors that.

I did realize that I need to listen to my words more when I pray, and to make sure that I am honest with God. There is no point in lying to Him. He knows the truth. So, who am I lying for? Myself, that's who. I'm not trying to deceive Him, by convincing Him that my heart's desire is to please Him above everything else. I am trying to convince myself that I am better than I am, that I love more than I do, that I am, in my faith, where I actual am not. That's just silly.

What is the point of having a God that loves me beyond belief, wants the very best for me, and knows everything, including the way to the very best, if I repeatedly trip myself up by lying about where I am in the journey? It hurts God, it hurts me, and I'm pretty sure it messes with the other people in my life, too.

It's actually kind of silly. I felt like a two year old, caught with chocolate all over my face, adamantly denying that I had gotten into the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Thankfully, I have a Lord who looked me in the eye, pulled out a face cloth and dealt with my deception in a firm, loving fashion while gently cleaning me up.

I am grateful.


Anonymous said...

You are being rather hard on yourself. Eating for reasons other than physical hunger is not automatically gluttony.

Is self-medicating with food, using food as a coping mechanism necessarily gluttony? No, it is not the best thing to do, but when you have done it to the point of developing an eating disorder like binge eating disorder (I'm not saying this applies to you -- I have no idea), it is in the realm of mental illness. Is it sinful to have a mental illness?

Also, there are some serious physiological reasons which make it extremely difficult to lose weight and keep it off. Our body's mechanisms are designed to make us resistant to famine, which makes many of us very vulnerable in our current obesogenic environment. There is some interesting stuff about this on Dr Sharma's blog ( ) as well as Debra's Just Maintaining ( ).

Kelly said...

Hi there, thanks for your comment. I understand that it may seem like I am being hard on myself.

I think, though, that because the definition of gluttony is technically the consumption of too much food, one can commit gluttony even if one is doing it because of a mental illness. What makes a behavior sin is the element of choice. There is no redefinition for actions that are committed by the mentally ill, but if one is mentally ill and therefore not able to control themselves, they are not responsible for their actions and therefore their actions are not sin.

In my case, I have freedom of choice. I am not compelled to over-eat. I do it by choice. I do it because I want to, and the pleasure of eating, at that moment, over-rides the consequences for me. This is something that is within my control.

I do agree that there are physiological reasons for over-eating. In fact, in the past year I have discovered that I have sleep apnea and have since begun using a cpap machine. Once I was on the cpap machine, my desire for sweets and carbs was reduced, and I lost over 10 lbs. This does not negate the fact that I choose to over-eat. I only lost 10 lbs w/the cpap machine. The rest required me to stop eating when I was not hungry.

The point of my blog post, though, was not to focus on the issue of over-eating. The reason I do not believe that I was too hard on myself is that because I was willing to accept the truth of my behavior, I was able to deal with it, with God. By accepting responsibility for my behavior, I can find freedom from it. My goal was honesty, to myself and to God. Would it be easier to say that I have an illness, that it is not my fault, that I need hours of costly therapy and treatment to learn how to cope with this behavior?

I'm not sure. For me, it is easier to admit that I am sinning, ask forgiveness and seek God's help in living free from the tyranny of over-eating. When I do this, I lose weight immediately with no effort. Which, of course, is a confirmation.

It does not hurt me to admit when I am wrong, or doing wrong, other than the sting to my pride. It does not damage my self-esteem. In fact, being over-weight does not damage my self-esteem either. My value is in the passionate, overwhelming love of God for me. If the God of the Universe thinks I'm valuable, really, who cares what anyone else thinks? Committing a sin does not change my value to God. In fact, it is my value to God that prompts Him to deal diligently with anything in my life that is hurting me, or others.

That leaves me feeling safe, cared for, honored and valuable. So, no, I don't think I am being too hard on myself at all.

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