Three weeks ago I decided to do something totally radical. Well, radical for me. I decided that I was going to cut out all sugar from my life for a period of time. In order to make this practical, and not overwhelming to my Starbucks loving self, I decided that I wouldn't be overly strict, and if there was a special event like a dinner date or a birthday party, I would allow myself a small portion of whatever sugary goodness was available. Why did I decide to do this? Mainly just because I wanted to be healthy, but also because I felt like this was a good opportunity to spend some extra time talking to the Lord about my true longings, instead of my sugar longings.
As you can imagine, 3 weeks later I have discovered many health benefits to this new lifestyle. Yesterday I stood on a scale and discovered that I had lost 9 pounds. Now, before anyone gets bored and thinks this is another blog to convince you to stop eating ice cream and drinking flavored coffee, don't worry, it's not. This is a blog about self-discovery, or rather, discovering my true self in the eyes of the Lord. Read on my friends...
If you know me really well, you might know that there are certain topics I don't discuss with the entire world, my weight being one of them. The fact that I lost 9 pounds has happened before, and it's never been publicized to anyone. But today something shifted, and the shame of my weight struggles is no longer something I have to hide with humor or a shrug of the shoulders. This morning I was talking to the Lord, just having a pleasant conversation with Him, thanking Him for the many blessings He has poured into my life. In the midst of that dialogue, I thanked Him for the shedding of 9 pounds. And in that moment He stopped me, and He asked me this question, "Elisabeth, what's so special about these 9 pounds? You've lost 9 pounds before. What's the difference?"
I was a little taken aback, pretty certain He was the one doing the asking, but wondering why, since He's supposed to know everything anyway. But I thought about it and I realized that there really was a difference. In the past when I have fluctuated between losing 20 pounds and gaining 10, losing 3 and gaining 13, I was always "trying" to lose weight with one real motivation in mind... the eyes of the world. You see, I've never really cared about myself, but I've cared about what others think about me. In the world we live in today with diet ads all over the television screen and supermodels smiling at you from grocery store check out lines, it's no wonder I hated what I looked like.
I can quote you all the right Scriptures and preach you all the right things to tell you that it's not about what the world thinks, but what God thinks, but until I've let that really seep into my heart, it's not going to matter. It's all been an issue of comparison and self-hatred for me, masked by sarcasm and hard work, to prove to myself and others that I still matter in this world. I've never consciously thought of it that way, but it's all there. It's in the way I feel about myself when I look at old pictures, and the way I ignore the voice telling me not to take a second helping at the dinner table. Whether I want to admit it or not, I've never been comfortable in my own skin, and so I've fallen prey to the world's view of who I am and what I look like. When you're motivated by the world's standards, diet plans, exercise routines and even motivational self talk don't last very long. They are all temporary fixes to a much deeper problem that can only be answered by the One who created us.
So the answer to my Father's question about what's different this time is simple. This time, I didn't start this sugar free season because I wanted to please the world and feel good about myself. This time I started the sugar free season because I have tasted the Lord's pleasure over His creation of me and I have felt His love wash over me in the moments when I've begun to succumb to the world's pressures. He takes joy in who I am. A few months ago I never would have understood that but my heart has been changing and instead of just loving and caring about everyone else in the world but myself, I'm finally loving and caring about myself, the way He created me to.
So why am I breaking my silence on this issue? Because I know I'm not the only one. It doesn't necessarily have to be about weight. I've talked to enough girls to know that there is a lot of hurt in this world, and that a lot of that hurt is caused by a lack of understanding of who we are in Christ, our eyes focused on this world instead of the Kingdom to come. For years the Lord has been stirring my heart to intercede and help draw young women to freedom from self-hatred and other issues, but before I can completely go there I have to be willing to admit to more than just myself, that I have my own issues in this area. And it's true, I do, which gives me a passion to pray and talk to others, but for the first time my passion is being fueled by a true sense of self, found in the Lord and not hidden by a mask of humor and sarcasm.