Our Pastor has been talking about bondage lately. I have a rather sordid past, but I walk each day knowingly redeemed and restored and forever in love with a God who did that for me. Until recently, I have really not seen myself as one who remains in bondage any longer. I have simply viewed myself as someone who struggles to maintain her weight and eats just a bit too much just a bit too often among numerous other infractions. Pondering the true meaning of bondage has required me to examine myself more closely. I feel while I've done some housekeeping and the house looks pretty tidy, there are some corners and cobwebs I've missed. When I look up the definition of bondage, I find this:
This causes me to realize that food is not just a pesky nuisance in my life. It is my captor and it has enslaved me. It is merely a symptom and when I look really closely at it, here is what I find-
I have a love affair with food. I love the way it looks, the way it smells and the way it tastes. I love to prepare it, I love to present it but most of all I love to eat it. Food and I have a most complex relationship because for all the affection I have for it, it has become both friend and foe, a comforter and a relentless taunter. It has become a thief. It has become my worst enemy. Or rather, the tool of my worst enemy. Of course it's a perfect tool. And there is where I venture deeper still.
Paul writes in Romans, For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. And I know exactly how he felt. Brief and fleeting moments of pleasure and comfort resulting in lengthy periods of self-loathing. A cycle of self-loathing. Acknowledgement of self-loathing only requires the peeling of yet another layer of why this has such control in the first place. I easily become exhausted peeling back the layers.
The source of self-loathing can be traced back to a myriad of things. In my nine year-old self sexually assaulted by a friend's father, or in my regret of not finishing college, or in my continual slew of bad decisions in my youth. I can factor in my ex-husband's alcoholism and abuse and subsequent affair and abandonment. I don't have to describe the havoc these things wreak on one's self-worth. And it all sat like a dormant volcano with the capstone of silence for fear of what people would think if any of it were spoken aloud for many years. And although food was not my choice for comfort in my earlier years, as I became a follower of Christ, it seemed to become the only acceptable one.
I have justified my weight with the years of prednisone and chemotherapy drugs and by my disease. I have rationalized my obsession with food as a penchant for cooking delectable dishes and my Italian upbringing. But if I really want to be free - I need to admit choosing the wrong foods often, eating more than I should or more often than I should is the result of self-medicating with a socially acceptable drug. It's the result of not liking myself and not relying on God in all of the ways that I should. It imprisons me and hampers a full life and relationship with the One who saved me from all of it in the first place.
Maybe you live here, too. Maybe you peek out from inside the fat suit hoping someone will dare to look in. Maybe your suit looks different.
What I've learned since my last post is this- God will hold my hand as I do the hard work but I must choose to do the hard work in this area, too. What has taken years to build must be deconstructed and rebuilt. Just like everything else did.
I knew in the first moments I returned to the gym I had decided to fight back and choose the hard work. Every bead of sweat that drops is my spit on an enemy I have allowed to imprison me far too long. Every ounce of restraint, every adjusted mentality, every new choice screams freedom and leaves defeat in my dust.
I remind myself of the following words. A piece of my mantra. Words that have reminded me who I am in the sight of a Lord who died for me. A reminder of what has brought me down a road to redemption so many times before.
I will not be defined or held captive by my past, by regrets, things beyond my control, by disease or by other people. I do not listen to an enemy who sits on my shoulder and whispers words that only an enemy would spew.
I am not his captive. I am Free.
You may be overweight, but it is not bondage that holds you there and this is not your story and that is okay. It just happens to be mine. But if something does hold you in bondage today-like this or something else. Choose to do the hard work. God did the hardest part already and He will hold your hand. I promise.