Since about the fourth grade, I have had a dark cloud hanging over my head. I have struggled with this cloud immensely over the years, sometimes having enough strength to push and hold it at bay, other times being swallowed by it completely.
My stormy cloud is familiar to so many in our society today. It’s called “Extra Pounds.” I don’t know why I’m blessed with such a dysfunctional metabolism, and I’ve felt it very unfair that while some people struggle with secret things not noticeable to the human eye, my struggle is obvious; everyone can see it.
I’ve done all the right and wrong things a person can do to try and get control over this monster, I have degraded myself emotionally, passed mirrors by and wanted to puke at what I saw reflected back at me.
My heaviest moments were during pregnancy, and let me just tell you, the weight does NOT just ‘fall off’ if you breast feed. I struggled for years to get back to a normal weight, and finally a few years ago I found a quick fix and got down below my goal weight. It was hard and irritating, but the way that I felt afterwards . . . I don’t think I’ve ever been so confident about myself in my life. Finally I conquered my body.
Except that I didn’t, and even though I followed the rules and had great success, the maintenance phase flopped so badly that I’ve gained most of my weight back over the past 2 years, despite all my hard work. This has made me feel like a complete failure. Like I am discredited from offering anything to anyone because it’s so obvious that I haven’t been able to conquer my issues yet.
Yesterday I decided to take a day off from food, hoping to gain some healthy perspective on why my body rebels against my best efforts, and what the Father wants me to do about it. A year ago, He told me to “Eat by Faith.” and I have struggled ever since to discover what that means. I’m still not sure. I spent yesterday thinking about the word faith. Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” So how does that relate to what I consume on a daily basis?
Because of numerous prophetic words, I know that I have an issue with the way that I see myself, that I care far too much about what people think. I have an issue with vanity. The Father says that I am a princess (He says it a lot.), He says I am beautiful and that I am His favorite . . . but what does everyone else say? Well, they say that I’m beautiful too. They always have. But I have something buried so deep within me that tells me it’s not true, that people are just trying to be kind. When I am heavy and overweight, I do not see beauty in the mirror.
The problem is that I am looking for my value as opposed to seeing it. I’m staring into a mirror that reflects a body that is temporary, that is merely a conduit to get me from Point A to Point B, and I’m looking for the value in it. I understand all of this. Inside I am beautiful, wonderfully created . . . but I want to be thin, or at least healthy, on the outside.
When I got my headshots back earlier this spring, I was sick about them for days. It was blatantly obvious that I’d gained weight, and I was so mad at myself for losing control. The thing was, I hadn’t lost control. My body wasn’t co-operating with me. We were eating mostly organic, grains and vegetables and occasionally meat. I was eating better than I had in my life, and still I was gaining weight.
Now it’s much later in the year and the weight has continued to pack on. Maybe I have intolerances or allergies that manifest with weight gain. Maybe I over eat without realizing it.
I started working out regularly in September, and I felt awesome. I didn’t notice a significant drop in weight, but I felt stronger and happier, going to the gym and cranking up my worship playlist became one of the best parts of my day. Then my back crapped out on me and I had to stop, and what little leverage I’d found in being able to maintain a number on the scale disappeared.
This life-long struggle has worn me out. I have felt immature for struggling with this. I have felt shame and insecurity personify me. I have stayed home from countless events over the years because of how this dark cloud affects me.
I’m not any more mature after my day spent fasting and praying yesterday, but I know that I’ve been receiving some lies about myself, mainly that I have no self-control, and it’s inevitable that I will make poor decisions where food is concerned. All of my previous success with weight loss is a testimony to that fact. I have lost plenty of weight, I’ve said no plenty of times. I can say no.
As I was writing this morning, recapping my day with the Father yesterday, I told him, “I’m still not sure about the Eat by Faith thing. I really needed revelation about that, but I trust you.” Then I picked up Jesus Calling and read today’s entry. The first line says, “I am working on your behalf.” It goes on to talk about bringing our concerns to Him and then waiting for His timing. Then, guess what the last line was? Hebrews 11:1, in the amplified version:
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.”
I can’t explain why this version makes so much more sense to me, but I started crying immediately. The fact alone that this was the verse for today, told me that my Father is right here with me, walking closely beside me while I try to navigate battling this dark cloud in the healthiest (spiritually, emotionally and physically) way possible. He wasn’t very vocal yesterday, I think because we’ve had this conversation before, hundreds of times. Sure, He wants me to be healthy, but ultimately, my heart is his main concern. In some ways, this physical journey is reflective of things in my heart — the vanity and insecurity. The fact that when I’m at my goal weight I feel like I can rock whatever I want to, be it fashion, singing on a stage or just walking into a room full of my peers, verses when I’m where I am at now feeling embarrassed and less than, is proof positive that I have heart issues to deal with.
While my battle feels largely against flesh and blood today, it’s not. It’s against the plan of the enemy to discredit me, to debilitate me, to render me paralyzed from moving into all that the Father has for me. Switchfoot has a lyric on their latest album that says, “I’m not sentimental / this skin and bones is a rental / and no one makes it out alive.” That line has stayed with me since the first time I heard it. It’s very easy to repeat it, it’s another thing to believe it and live it out.
I’m not writing this today to fish for compliments or words of encouragement, as always I hope that my struggle encourages someone else. That even if weight isn’t your battle, whatever it is, you know that you aren’t alone, and that we all manifest the symptoms of our struggles in one way or another, but that the Father is so faithful to walk beside us and guide us into wholeness, if we let Him.
I’m also not proclaiming that I’m going to drop thirty pounds in the next three months, but I do feel better equipped to take it one day at a time and begin walking the path to a healthier me in a healthier way. To do this I have to shed guilt and vanity and frustration before pounds, and I have to trust that the Father is working on my behalf, and have faith that my hard work will pay off in the long run.
So there you have it. My name is Julie, and I am in process too.