I wrote about the topic of weight loss because it was on my mind. After I wrote it, I had to think really hard about whether I wanted to share this or not. I have decided to do so because it occurs to me that I am not the only one dealing with these issues and perhaps in sharing I offer someone else a chance to not feel so isolated in their struggles.
For years I have attended a weekly meeting of women who gather together to just talk. We have rules.When you are not talking, your job is simply to listen to the others. You may not interrupt or comment. You may not try to fix them. You may not sympathize or try to add on a similar story of your own. Your only job is to just listen. Be a safe place. When it’s your turn to talk you can be sure that everyone is listening to you. Through this group I’ve also done something called “storywork” where we explore stories from our past that have been instrumental in shaping the way we view the world. While exploring our stories we often discover lies that we believe about ourselves or the world and we are offered a chance to start replacing those lies with truth. It has been a life-changing experience for me. If anyone is interested, the website for this ministry is here: Look Inside
Through this ministry I have been learning the art of curiosity. When I do something that is self-destructive or just not very logical, I’ve been learning to stop and be curious about why I just did that. I’ve been learning a lot about myself as I’ve slowly stopped and taken the time to be curious.
So, today I decided to be curious about something. Why is it so hard for me to start a diet/lifechange/healthierlifestyle/etc? I am significantly overweight. Being overweight has started to cause health issues. I don’t like the way I look. I don’t like the way feel. I greatly desire to be back at a normal weight. So why is it so hard to do something about it? I have started so many diets or “lifestyle changes” that I’ve lost track of how many attempts I’ve made. And it’s down right discouraging. I don’t even want to try again because I feel like I’ll just fail…again.
I was thinking about it and what came to mind was the Israelites, leaving Egypt, heading towards the Promised Land…But first they had to go through the Wilderness..And it wasn’t a short journey. Forgive me for using such an historic, important event to describe my weight loss troubles, I mean no disrespect.
Being overweight is definitely a form of slavery. One I sold myself into. Food addictions are real. Emotional eating is real as well. When food becomes your number one way of coping with stress and sadness and anger, it is very difficult to step away from your bad food habits. It’s like you’re in an extremely difficult moment and you no longer have your normal method of coping and you don’t know what to do with yourself. And in the end it just seems better to go eat something rather than launch into a fit of rage, or eat something before your head explodes, cause that what it feels like it’s going to do when you’re so stressed you can physically feel your blood pressure rising. It just seems like a better idea to eat that chocolate bar, or whatever it is you crave. Food makes you feel better for a couple minutes. It’s hard to step away from that. It involves developing an entire new set of skills, new coping mechanisms that are beneficial instead of harmful. Change is hard. And not fun.
On the other side of the Wilderness is the Promised Land. Everything good is waiting. Good weight. Good health. Good body-image. Younger looking. More energy. Cuter clothes. A sense of pride in accomplishing a major goal. It’s all there waiting. It’s what I’m longing for, dreaming of, wishing I could already be there.
But there’s this thing separating me from the Promised Land. I’m over here in slavery, longing to be over there in freedom, but I’ve got to go through this thing called the Wilderness. Hardship. Dryness. Hard work. Repetition. Same boring view. Eating food that is healthy but not particularly exciting. Forcing myself to exercise when I really just want to sit on the couch. Doing it every day. No breaks. Going to parties and saying No to all the party food and then standing in the corner munching on vegetables and fruit while everyone else eats cake and icecream. Going to the movies and watching everyone else eat popcorn and drink soda while I sip on my water bottle and eat the baggie of blueberries I smuggled in my handbag. Trying to establish new habits, new patterns, when the old ones feel so comfortable. And while you’re in the Wilderness you try to encourage yourself…the Promised Land is coming! You weigh yourself regularly, hoping the numbers are going down as proof that you are heading towards your goal. You measure yourself to see if any inches have come off. You keep logs and records of how you feel so that you can prove to yourself that you are getting closer. And then one day you hit a major holiday and everyone else is eating Pumpkin Pie and you are eating your fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free faux dessert and you suddenly think, why am I doing this? This Wilderness stinks. Everyone else looks so much happier than me, you forget all about the Promised Land and you say, I’m over it, and you grab a piece of pie. And those chains of slavery that you’ve slowly been shedding, start tightening their hold on you again as you fall prey to the lure of food and how good it makes you feel. Because once you turn your back on that path that’s taking you towards victory, once you get lured back towards that slavery, it’s really hard to break free again and set yourself back in the right direction. This is the place where I always fail and I just slide right back into my slavish habits.
I’m sitting here, longing for my Promised Land but I’m eyeing that Wilderness. And I wonder if I really do have what it takes to make it through. Is it really worth it? Is there even really a path that will get me all the way from here to there? I’m uncertain and so I stop. I stand there in my slavery and I glimpse, over the horizon, the Promised Land waiting for me, but can I make it through the Wilderness? I don’t know.
I have sat and thought about this all day and a couple more thoughts come to mind. First, God was with the Israelites the whole time they were in the Wilderness, guiding their steps, taking care of them, teaching them things they needed to know. Second, I imagine the Promised Land was that much better and appreciated that much more due to the Wilderness experience. Third, none of the whole adventure would have happened without God. In other words, this whole journey is going to require a measure of faith.