Thursday, November 29, 2007

We Fear Fear Itself

Consider Isaiah 21:4.

What are you afraid of? Oh, let me count a few. Fear. Failure. Embarrassment. Humiliation. A strap showing. A runner in my hose. (More explicitly, people knowing there's a runner.) Falling on my face in the middle of the street. Again. Calling somebody the wrong name. Making a fool of myself. Forgetting something important, like the time I was the scheduled speaker and forgot to show up. That's been ten, fifteen years ago, but the fear and humiliation and shame remain. We fear fear and the familiar paralysis it spawns.

Step 4 directs us to list our fears, and a fearful task that is! The Big Book says of fear:
This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It is an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn't deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 67-68)
Stealing? Maybe. I haven't dealt with that one like I have with fear. It's not as crushingly familiar. Why should fear and stealing have anything in common? That one doesn't compute. At the same time, though, deep in the recesses of my mind, I know there's truth in the statement. So why? What have I done to deserve this fear? Stealing is wrong! Is fearing a crime? A sin? 

How many times does the Bible say, "Fear not"? More than a hundred times. That's a command, in the imperative mood as far as verb analysis is concerned. In other words, it's an order. I'd love to obey that order--if only I could. 
Perhaps there is a better way--we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust Infinite God rather than our finite selves.... Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity. (page 68)
So, if we turn our lives and our wills over to God, we really will not fear? What a deal!


List your fears. Then describe what life would be if the fears were removed. How is fearing like stealing from yourself?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ready to Let God

Consider 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.

Step 6 says we were entirely ready to let God remove our defects of character. It feels a lot like Step 3 revisited. Maybe revisiting 3 is a good idea after 4 and 5. We've discovered how deeply entrenched our character defects are by Step 6. We figure we've already asked for relief from our weaknesses, many of us for years and years. We've earnestly prayed, "God, give me the power to resist..." and "God, help me stop...." We've had mixed results. The same outcome we got in dieting for years and years and years. The same success we had from the resolutions to do anything right. The same failures, time after time. Why hasn't God helped us when we asked? We already admitted way back at step 1 we were powerless and couldn't do this.

There's a shorthand version of the first three steps: I can't. God can. I'll let him.

But we don't let him. We're still asking him to help us. And therein lies the problem. Look at the story of Jehoshaphat on hearing of the coming threat from Moab and Ammon. He cried to God for help, bewailing. He reminded God they would turn to him in the event of famine or plague. He blamed God for not letting Israel defeat Moab and Ammon earlier. He griped that now Israel didn't have the power to defeat the armies advancing. In all his protestations, he overlooked the obvious. "This is God's fight, not yours, King." Jehoshaphat sent out what we'd now call a praise team. And God won.

I can't. God can. I'll let him. That doesn't say "I'll recruit God as my assistant." It says, "I surrender. Here I am, God, reporting for duty. I stand here, cowed by my character defects lined up here before us. Can I hang onto your coattails and watch you wipe them out?"


Write what it would be like to be an actor in God's play, not the director of your own. Describe how you've tried to live by self-propulsion. How have you been self-centered in your relationship with God?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Lesson of Balaam's Donkey

Consider Numbers 22.

"They" say in writing children's stories not to use anthropomorphic characters in books and stories. We who grew up with Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter's books find this a little sad. It still feels like Peter Rabbit and Eeyore have something to teach us. I guess "they" would have told the author of Numbers not to speak of Balaam's donkey. If "they" did, I'm glad they were ignored.

The story and words of Balaam take three chapters, Numbers 22 through 24, but introducing it is the delightful story of Balaam's donkey, taking only a few verses. Obviously Balaam trusted and followed God; Balaam made his living by divination for fees, cursing or blessing events and people according to God's instruction. The journey with Balak's agents began with God's blessing but a limiting instruction to take it step by step and wait for divine direction. Had Balaam actually been open to that guidance, we'd never have met his mode of transportation, though.

What happened to change Balaam's focus, to shift his attention from God, is never stated. However, evidently he'd been promised opulence and traveled with esteemed companions. Often when we're recognized we make the mistake of believing it to be for our own abilities, even knowing full well we're powerless on our own, that our progress and abilities come through turning our lives over to God. A gentleman I see most weeks just asked if I'd been losing weight. Yep. Over a hundred pounds since he's known me, more than fifty in the last year. He commented that it takes a lot of work, real will power. I disagreed and told him with OA, it's easy, the compulsion's been taken away.

The twelfth step gets scary. What do we have to offer others? How can we guide? WHAT? You want ME to be your sponsor? We tremble. Why?

Because we forget those divine directions. We forget we don't have to sponsor, we just have to pass on God's words.

Balaam didn't listen, didn't see an angel blocking the path. The donkey did. The donkey stopped short, refusing to go even when Balaam beat him. Three times. Balaam threatened to kill the donkey for embarrassing him. And the donkey spoke. "What's going on? We've been together a while, don't you trust me? Look around!" Well, not quite, but just the speaking is the point.

And the point of my speaking to you through this text is to say don't worry about being a sponsor. Just look around, be aware of God's presence, and be a spokesman for him. That's all. That's all? That's POWERFUL!

And after all, if you don't do it, God can use the nearest donkey, or kitten, or even goldfish. Relax. You're in God's hands.


Think about times you've heard somebody speak, either in an OA meeting, on an email, reading the Big Book, or even a novel, and known that God directed you to that statement at that time. Write about the times you think of. Then write about times God's had you say something you had no idea would mean anything to the person you were talking to and it did.

Oops! I wasn't just lazy for a day!

Greetings. I knew I hadn't posted in a while, but it never occurred to me it had been nine days. I need to be here, and I appreciate the fact you're here for me. I'm thankful for those of you who have said these posts are meaningful for you.

I'm thankful also for my very first abstinent Thanksgiving! It was a blessing, and I found it easy and joyous. Thanks be to God! It's been eleven months and two weeks since my last compulsive eating, and now that feels natural. Wonderfully, naturally natural. Geesh. Who'd a thunk it?

I was asked by the sponsor coordinators at The Recovery Group if I was still "full" and not taking on new sponsoreds (my word--I don't like sponsee or pigeon or anything else, and I really don't like this one either. What does work?) Anyway, I have three new people, and they're a real treat. I needed this, and it all came at the proper time for me in my program.

Another event happened appropriately this weekend. I've expected for more than a month for my hard drive on my favorite computer to crash. It failed while I happened to have a computer programmer in the house, home for Thanksgiving. He installed Windows for me, and I was confident when I sent him home I could take care of the rest. However, I kept running into glitches. Not permanent roadblocks, just glitches, making it impossible at this point for me to connect to the Internet on that machine or to even copy all the carefully backed up files I've been saving for the inevitable event of the hard drive crash. I've discovered, though, it's not a problem. It's a blessing. I've needed these two days without ready easy access to cyberspace to put my life and my priorities back in perspective, the perfect end to the long Thanksgiving weekend. Tomorrow I'll ask the question I need to ask for access to be restored, but for today, I've chosen not to. With God's guidance and help. I licked through the power of the twelve steps the compulsion to play computer games that caused me to start this blog on September first. (I've not played a game online since then, have started two paper sudoku puzzles and lost interest, leaving them unfinished. Amazing!) Now I've seen the problem with the instant access to the Internet, and while I'll maintain the access to work with my sponsoreds, to blog, and to communicate with my partners on a major project and my friends and family, with God's help it will be in the proper moderation.

The post is long already. I'm tempted to go ahead and do a devotional that's playing in my mind, but I guess I'll post this and very soon, I'll post the devotional. Thanks for reading and for walking these steps with me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lazy Today

I haven't posted a devotional for a while. Okay. I posted a couple on Wednesday, but I don't think I wrote them on Wednesday. Anyway, this isn't a devotional. I don't think.

It is, however, a report on how it was, what happened, and how it's different.

I lived stretching the limits of my small life, but it remained a small life. That's how it was. What happened is I found these rooms, and nothing's been the same since. That will be eleven months tomorrow. Wow, what a transformation!

How it is today. Wonderful. What an empty word to attempt to describe how it is, despite the fact I'm tired. But the reason I'm tired is that it's wonderful. I have exploded the limits of my small life, and I'm stretching the limits of an unlimited life. Wow!

I knew my world was growing, and I was pushing on it, encouraging it, watching God do what I hadn't even imagined in it. Then Tuesday, the dam burst. My three partners and I--well, we are. But the enterprise was new enough we haven't signed a partnership agreement. I guess now it's time and well past that!--had with sane, logical steps started a new business enterprise, stretching our worlds, but testing the strength of each limb before we ventured onto it. All of a sudden our group conscience (thanks for letting me borrow the term for non 12-step stuff) was challenged, declared wrong and invalid by a professional. Individually each one of us might have caved in and submitted to the "better" judgment of somebody with experience. With the strength of our commitment to each other and to our common idea, goal, project--dream--we stood our ground, reduced the participation from one plus four back down to four, and became a business. My heart still speeds as I type that "became a business." But we're going to do it, we're going to do it our way, and we're going to do it up right as well as right.

I'm spent a lot of nights lately at the computer until about midnight, back on it at 5, and I'm tired. I'm tired, but actually, I'm not really lazy. I lied to you. I apologize.

What's your dream? It can come to fruition if you work these steps and put it all in God's hands then let go and let him use you. I promise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why me, God?

Consider Numbers 11:10-15.

Two extremes typify our reaction to discord, tension, and tragedy in our lives. One is this response of Moses, mad at the inconvenience, blaming God for dumping on him rather than putting one foot in front of the other and in God’s peace walking through the mess, discovering in the process who he is and the talents God has bestowed on him.

The other extreme is to accept responsibility for all ills and trouble in our lives, blaming ourselves because of a past indiscretion or a general feeling of blameworthiness. “I tell myself it's because I stole the man’s wallet twenty years ago. When I got cancer I knew that was why.”

Neither is healthy. Both express anger misdirected. Both cause us, compulsive overeaters, to turn to food. So what can we do?

Look at the problem realistically. Turn to God and ask him -- not in a blaming way but praying for guidance, for stamina, for God’s presence to walk through the current problem. And look at the past problem in the same light. What have you done in the past that actually may have affected the present? How can you understand the whole situation so you can address it rationally and in God’s power.

Numbers 12 tells an interesting story of Moses’ siblings feeling him blameworthy. That’s between Moses and God and long past. It’s not our inventory to take. Take your own.

Look at the resentments you listed in List my tears, God! and the reasons for your anger. Beside each, look within yourself and examine what you might have done—or definitely did—that could have caused the situation or worsened it. Write it down, being completely honest with yourself.

List my tears, God!

Consider Psalm 56:5-8

The big “THEY.” How huge a word that is. Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. For the compulsive overeater, that poison has many names, among them sugar, corn chips, pizza, cola, and mashed potatoes lathered with gravy.

What is resentment? The Latin root is “to feel”—resentment is to feel again. Feel what? Anger. Anger? What am I angry about, you may ask. Probably the real question is, “What are you not angry about?" Perhaps you grew up believing nice people didn’t feel angry, that good children don’t have bad thoughts. It’s time to rethink that old idea.

We do get angry, and over the slightest things. In the middle of preparing a meal, we’re interrupted when our child comes in, needing us to do something simple. We love the child, it’s appropriate we’re asked to do it, but the interruption is, well, interrupting. The child’s business takes precedence over ours. Maybe in the larger sense we even see it’s proper that way, but it doesn’t stop the fact we felt resentment.

Most resentments aren’t that small. The ones we remember and re-remember, the angry moments we live time and time again are far from small. It can be from decades ago when your mother would not have stopped to help and the child was you. It can be a terrible wrong, a crime, committed against you. Until you take them out and look at them, they remain. And as they remain, you deal with them. For compulsive eaters, we deal with most problems by numbing the pain with food.

The psalmist resented. “All day long they twist my words; they are always plotting to harm me. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, eager to take my life.” What do you resent?

Who is your “THEY?” Why do you resent them? Take a piece of paper, and along the left side of the page write the names that come to mind of people you resent, skipping a line between each. Add ideas (you can’t date until you’re 16, respect your father, etc.) and institutions (the church always just wants money, the bank won’t leave me alone.)

Go back and briefly describe why you resent that person, idea, or institution.

Monday, November 12, 2007


The assignment for my poetry group was the subject "Triage." I know NOTHING about medicine....

Can the patient be saved?
Depends on what you mean.
Her immortal soul? Oh, yeah.
These martyrs have it made.
She’s lived in hell through a
marriage with a lout. Nothing
post mortem could phase her.
Pshaw. You know that’s not
what I mean.
Physically? She’s not too far
gone, lots of stress injuries
even to muscles and ligaments
not from exertion but from,
well, stress.
Come on. Quit being cute.
I’m serious.
I’m serious, too. The levity’s
a cover for my spirit rupturing
when I see the psychic pain.
I know. Can she be saved?
Yeah. She’s reached the bottom.
She’s ready to give up using all
her substantial resources trying
to hold it all together, to make
a life for the kids he taunts,
to build her self-respect that’s
atrophied under his onslaughts,
to grow against his attempts
to espalier her like a bonsai tree.
And reaching the bottom is good?
Oh, essential. Now she can let go
reach up, admit she can’t,
and God’s there, waiting for
the slightest hint of her invitation
to come in and fix it all.
So she’ll live.
Oh, more than live. Now she’ll
thrive, she’ll fly, soaring to
heights of talent and energy and
success she’d buried so deep and
so long she’d though never even
existed when they’re who she is.
Yes, now finally, she’ll live!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What does willingness mean?

Consider Genesis 22:1-12.

I hate some of the Old Testament stories. When my children were day-care age, I "interviewed" a church day care as to their curriculum. I mentioned Noah's Ark, and the woman said oh, they used that all the time. I pointed out to her that wasn't a picture of God as I knew him, someone who gets mad and destroys humanity to just start over. She didn't understand, but I put my kids there anyway, lacking anything better. The story of Abraham going to the mountain to sacrifice Isaac is equally abhorrent.

Still, what a lesson it teaches for Step 6! What does that language of "entirely ready" mean? It means absolute trust. When it looks like God's careening down the wrong path with your life, it means you resist the urge to grab the wheel. It means whatever is most precious to you--your reputation, your wealth, your family, your career, your abstinence, anything!--will not stand in the way of your blind obedience to God's will. He has no obligation to show you the whys. He doesn't have some "'splaning to do" as Ricky told Lucy. Faith. Trust.

There are activities meant to build group cohesiveness involving blindfolded people falling backwards and being passed from hands to hands calmly. Could you do it calmly? Could you do it at all? If you knew God's hands were there to catch you, would the answer be closer to yes--or further away? How real is your God? Is he such a spirit, so disassociated with the physical, you couldn't trust him physically?

Isn't it easier to trust him physically than mentally or spiritually?

Write about it. How well do you trust God? How ready are you to have him remove defects of character that are an integral part of you? How can you cope? How could you decline?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Spewed from God's mouth.

Consider Revelation 3:14-22.

I live in a small city, a tad larger than 100,000. I go to a comfortable church, not in the ritziest part of town, but respectable. And many of the congregants do come from posh sections. Maybe a dozen blocks away is a poor area, not destitute, but obviously struggling. We serve them, have outreach projects. We have a lot in common with Laodicea. Probably your church does, too.

What about you? What about me? Does God want us to buy gold from him refined in the fire, to buy white clothes to wear. What? In winter? I don't look good in white. I might spill stuff on it.

I bet you've prayed for God to help you lose weight. Right? I certainly have. What did you want to happen when you prayed? That he would remove the offensive pounds, that he would pull you to his comforting hug when travails and tribulations drove you to the food for comfort? That he would make the excess calories you consumed evaporate? Or did you pray for him to give you the courage day after day after day to eat the right foods, to plan what you eat and eat what you planned, to truly rely on God for comfort and consolation rather than the food?

Are you willing to ask God to take away your difficulties, to release you from your self? What would that mean? Honesty. Openness. Facing the blackness of your soul and forgiving yourself. Facing those you've wronged and seeking their forgiveness. That's what it means for God to take away your difficulties, to release you from yourself, your self.

Is God everything, or is God nothing? What? You don't like those choices? If God is everything, we have no say-so. We don't decide our goals, our actions, who we like, who we hate. We don't run our lives. If God is nothing??? No. God is not nothing. What's the other choice? Can't I just be good, ask God's advice, let him in on the decision making? No. Halfway doesn't count. In our out. Hot or cold. Or get spewed from God's mouth.

The third step prayer is.... Wait a minute. I won't do what the big book does and give you the prayer then the warning. The warning from page 63 of Alcoholics Anonymous says:
We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.

Okay. The third step prayer says:
God, I offer myself to Thee--to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and thy Way of live. May I do Thy will always!

Don't pray the 3rd step prayer lightly. Think about it. If you're ready to pray it, you might want to do it with another person or in a church.

Friday, November 9, 2007

When is a decision more than that?

Consider Mark 10:17-21.

Are you a good citizen? When did you last commit a felony? A misdemeanor? An act of moral turpitude? If you did one out of character act in your youth you may still be wracked with guilt over it. A serious act of misconduct would probably result in terminal remorse. So. You’re a good Christian, right?

The answer is yes! You’re a good person, a person who believes in Christ, a good Christian. Right? Right!

Do you feel like it? Probably not. Even if you don’t murder, refrain from adultery, avoid taking anybody else’s stuff, even to the extent of taking back what you accidentally carry off—if you like the rich young ruler have dutifully obeyed the commandments since your youth, you know something’s lacking. “What must I do?” is your earnest prayer.

Don’t assume because of Jesus’ answer voluntary poverty is the answer. Don’t assume the rich cannot find the presence of the Kingdom of God. Look deeper at what’s happening. Jesus knew the man standing before him, knew his Achilles heel. The man’s wealth was more important to him than the peace and joy he sought. He was willing to follow Jesus but on his own terms, not of Jesus’. He couldn’t relinquish all. He could only relinquish most.

Don’t ask God to be your assistant. Don’t seek God as an equal partner. Don’t buy into the “God is my co-pilot” crowd. Make yourself God’s assistant, his employee, his co-pilot.

If you had the conversation with God, asking him what you had to do to find this peace of heart that can take the place of food in your life, what answer would you fear most? What would make you tremble if God suggested it had to go? Your reputation? Your intelligence? Educational status? Financial security? What would you not be willing to give up to be slim?

A Kids' Meal God

Consider 1 Cor. 13:10-12.

My friend Karen is a writer, editor, publicist, a worker with words. Mid-thirties and a mother herself, she's made a discovery. The mother she knew as a breadwinner, disciplinarian, and homemaker writes as well! Karen has seen how even the discipline--copying words and definitions from the dictionary--and certainly the books they shared were tools in skillful hands developing potential with an oh-so-gentle touch.

I've recently come to an understanding of my own mother. A talented, intelligent woman, except for brief periods in protected environments, she had lived with her parents or with her husband for thirty years before I was born. That birth marked a turning point and found her far from home with an infant and a four-year-old, my father traveling from Monday morning until Friday evening. Two years later, another baby arrived. She is and was a good mother, but overwhelmed and insecure, she passed on to me not only her talents and intellect but self-doubt.

In 1952 J. B. Phillips' Your God is Too Small was published. It's been reprinted, the latest being 2004. The book was a classic by the time I read it in the early 70's, and I particularly remember a passage about whether or not God understands radar. Maybe today the question is microchips or nuclear fission or how to program a DVD recorder. The answer, no matter what the question, is "of course." But that's not the question or the answer. The question is What is your understanding of God? Like Karen, do you assume you're the first to write poems, that the concept would be foreign to your parent? Is the God of your understanding the one you met in Sunday School, sitting on a rug at the teacher's feet? Just how big is your God?

In restaurants, given the chose of regular sized, child sized, or supersized, all too often we compulsive overeaters have chosen to supersize. Twice. Maybe the smaller portion meal makes more sense for us. But if you're stuck with a child-sized God because you never looked at him again after you learned everything you needed to know about him--It's time to supersize.

Consider the prayers of Tevye, the Jewish lead character in Fiddler on the Roof. He asks impertinent questions, such as, "Dear God. Was that necessary? Did you have to make him lame just before the Sabbath? That wasn't nice. It's enough you pick on me. Bless me with five daughters, a life of poverty, that's all right. But what have you got against my horse?" If you were as blunt as Tevye, what would you say to God? What would he answer back to you? Write it down.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

So Who Is God?

Consider Exodus 3:13-14

Have you ever met a celebrity? Once I sat beside a U.S. Senator at lunch. He had no intention of being involved in conversation, of acknowledging the peons around him other than demanding the oversight of his not having received a slice of pie be rectified, and immediately! I made a nametag for another senator and misspelled her name, much to her disgust and my chagrin.

George W. Bush was different. In his gratitude for the background work I’d done, setting up the room, etc., he kissed my cheek. A couple of weeks later I stood in a coliseum full of people listening to him. As he walked past me leaving through the crowd, he recognized me, calling me by my title. Then he said he wanted Laura to meet me, having some helpers bring her forward.

When people step out of the newspapers and off the TV screens into your life, they’re real. Some such experiences please; others disgust. But the person on the TV or in newsprint never stops being real after the experience.

I’ve always known God through the Bible, the pictures, the sermons. I’d studied New Testament Greek so I could read the original text. I’d taught Sunday school, and instructed the teachers, and I’d even preached twice. I brought a thorough understanding of the Bible, from historical, theological, and archaeological aspects.

Then he stepped off the pages and into my life. He’ll never be the same. He is. He is real. He is vital, caring, present, understanding, compassionate, accepting. He is love. Love I’ve never before known from any source.

Now that I’ve met God, who is Love, though, I find love all around me.

In the past I believed God performed miracles. I found myself entranced by stories of my own great grandfather’s faith great enough to heal people. And mules. But as strong as my belief in God’s awesome power had been, the power became real and personal for me on December 17, 2006.

That’s when I knew he not only had performed miracles in the past but that he could and would accept my burdens and relieve me of the insanity of my life. That’s the day I stopped turning to food for comfort, for I met comfort himself.

Who is your God? How well do you know him? Can he meet the needs that drive you crazy? What kind of God do you want? What do you want him to do for you? Write it out. God can climb out of the box you may have found him in and into your life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I give up.

"I give up." A year ago I would have told you those words reflected defeat. Now I know they bring freedom, victory, peace, serenity, joy, and sanity. Blessed sanity. And weight loss is an exciting byproduct of sanity! But first, surrender is necessary--and oh so positive!!!

Consider David when finally confronted with the question, "What have you done?" (I Samuel 1:1-13a) David knew God. He had been chosen by God to be king over Israel. Together they had confronted the world, and David knew what it was to depend of God's guidance. He forgot. He was king, and he decided he could make decisions and run things. He did a lousy job of it. He and Bathsheba bore the consequences of their actions in the loss of the child of their misconduct. David repented completely, but having faced his failure accepted with it the aftermath. Don't you suspect he had many sleepless nights during his misconduct? Don't you know he would have expected God to have been as kind to him as he was to Uriah the Hittite? The consequences were dire, but they were out in the open, not the fear of the unknown, and now he could move forward, no longer relying on his decision-making abilities but again turning to God.

My life was unmanageable. My misdeeds weren't as dramatic as David's, but they abounded and they haunted me. I was intelligent, educated, a natural leader. For what reason would I expect not to be able to do what other people were doing? Like eating sanely. Like gaining the respect of those closest to me. Like living a meaningful life, not just existing, an automaton drearily plodding through the assigned tasks. Why could I not love and be loved? What was wrong with me?

What I hated most was for someone to say, "I don't know how you do all the things you do." I felt so false, so bogus. I wasted hours every day, avoiding doing what needed to be done, then rushed through the tasks when the deadline loomed and facing them was easier than facing myself, a failure once again.

My life was out of control, both in eating and in every other area. I had to have help. I needed sanity.

This morning I experienced a wave of the old madness. Nothing major was wrong. I had finished a massive project yesterday and felt pride in the product and the growth experience. But the bathroom scales didn't dip as far as I had hoped, and Tuesdays I normally go weigh "officially." What if my landmark 100 pounds off from last week no longer existed? The tank was low, so I stopped for gas, more expensive than the last two weeks. I should have bought yesterday or the day before. The car wash code I'd bought a week ago was rejected. Turning left against rush hour traffic seemed senseless, so I drove right then turned around.

Suddenly, with no more justification than that, the old insanity washed over me, that longing that in the past on virtually every day had sent me to the donut shop for an apple fritter. I'd tapered off and more recently the need had been treated to a weight-loss bar instead, but still, that was feeding the beast, and it was insanity. I didn't fall prey to it today. I know the urge came in part because this devotional needed writing and I'd asked God's help on it last night. I've drunk 3 cups of coffee since then, but ingested no calories.

Again, I accept my insanity, I accept my inability to control my own life and even what I put in my mouth. I give up. And I thank God for his willingness to pick up the responsibility.

How do you feel the insanity? Write about what you've tried to manage and cannot.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Embarrassment, Humiliation and Shame

Consider 2 Peter 2:13. I don't know about the parties, evidently during the communion dinner, but I certainly know the kind of eating behavior being described. I've lived it far too many times, year after year. Then I've stuffed more food down to kill the sting of the embarrassment, humiliation and shame.

Does God look down on us for our binging? I don't think so. I think he's bitterly disappointed, but his love doesn't turn to scorn, he doesn't give up on us. He continues to love us and longs for us to turn from our folly and find out there really is a sane way of life, one so simple, we cannot find the way with much searching. We can only find it by giving up.

We only have one moment in time, and it is the present. Yesterday and the days, months, years, and decades before haunt us, but we can't grasp them, can't change one iota of our behavior or the results of that. Tomorrow is a wisp of air out of our reach, always one day from our grasp. We can act today in ways that benefit tomorrow, that make tomorrow more pleasant, but we cannot effect any change in tomorrow. The change is only possible today, right now. Not five minutes ago, not an hour from now, but right now. What are you eating right now? If you are eating, is it something you'll approve of from the vantage of the future? If not, are you willing to put it down? Are you able to eat right this moment? Can you continue to do that the rest of today, moment by moment? Today is all you have. But you have today!

Write down everything you eat today. Be honest. If you have a friend with whom you can share the journey to slimness, are you willing to tell that person honestly and completely what you eat today? Will you do that, one day at a time?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Woe is me!

Consider Romans 7:21-24.

I'm an intelligent person, a successful professional, a competent leader, a resourceful individual. I can do most things I set out to do. Why, then, can I not control my eating? Like Paul, I do what I don't want to do, have full intentions of doing exactly what I know is not only right but best for me. I understand the rules when it comes to eating as well as I do all the other areas of my life where I function rather well. So what's wrong with me????

Others are able to decide to lose weight and do it. I'm not. Sure, it's hard for everybody who feels the need to lose, but it's not impossible! For me, obviously, it is. I know that because I really tried hard -- time after time -- for all those years. And I was a miserable failure at it.

There is a reason, and it's one that sounds preposterous at first, but when you finally accept it, not just in your head but in your heart, it's absolutely liberating! The reason is that for a compulsive overeater like me, it's not a personality flaw, it's a physical illness. I'm as much allergic to sugar and similar carbohydrates as other people are to nuts or bee stings or alfalfa. I cannot tolerate the carbs I crave. When I give into the craving, I'm like an alcoholic driven to madness by the overwhelming need for alcohol or the drug addict for the drug. Sugar is my drug of choice. When I give into the craving, I give in head over heels, a snowball barrelling for the bottom of a precipice.

You know, in some ways the problem for a compulsive eater can be even more difficult than the alcoholic's. Why? Two reasons.
  1. An alcoholic can avoid drinking alcohol forever, once the physical craving is past. Unless the compulsive eater has intravenous feeding forever, though, it's necessary to continue to eat food.
  2. An alcoholic is an angry person, angry at the world and mad at the face in the mirror. A food addict tends to be a person who follows the rules, who turns to food because it's proper, unlike alcohol which for many of us from the Bible Belt at least was always suspect. Our rage is just as real as the alcoholic's, but instead of expressing our anger, we deny it, stuff it inside, and tamp it down with food.
Woe is me!

But wait. There's hope. Read Romans 7:25.

There's hope. Thanks be to God.

Write down the ways you've hidden your eating from others. Have you stashed food in secret? Stolen it? Gone from one place to another so you don't buy so much in one place the clerk thinks badly of you? Have you eaten from the garbage pail or spoiled food? Do you clean the plates into yourself when you clear the table? Do you buy a dozen donuts so it looks like you're taking them to the office then eat the evidence before you arrive there? What behaviors make you feel like a hopeless sinner?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Have you reached your bottom?

A young child, after a while, will proclaim, "I can do it myself!" We continue to claim that long after we're young, long past the sweet confidence of mastery a first grader may possess. Weight loss is one of those things we do "all by ourselves" even when we join diet and calorie clubs or have a buddy to support us. We may, of course, pray. But we tend to pray for will-power, for weight loss, for specifics. Even when we ask for help, we want to do it ourselves, make the rules we follow--or at least choose them. More often than not, though, we choose to ignore them, to cheat on them, to overlook them for good cause--or bad cause--or just because.

I did. I tried for years and years and years to do it myself. Let's see...
  • I had the diet pills the family doctor gave me at 13
  • I counted calories.
  • I counted carbs
  • I got gold bumps put in my ears to massage as instructed to keep the hunger from coming back.
  • I got hypnotized.
  • I tried all the name brands...
    • WW
    • Jenny Craig
    • Adkins
    • South Beach
    • Slim-Fast
    • Scarsdale
    • probably more I can't remember right now.
  • I did the grapefruit diet, one I found in Woman's World, anything I read that sounded promising when I felt desperate.
  • Back when amphetamines were not advised but were not illegal for a doctor to prescribe, I drove 150 miles and back to get a bottle of pills for 30 days. When I ran out and realized I was physically needing them, I had the sense not to go back to get the next month's supply.
  • I had friends I'd never met face to face who had a contest to lose from 300 pounds to a sensible weight by email support. Their pictures, and mine, are still taped to the computer where I'm typing.
  • For probably five years I saw a doctor monthly who used all his powers of persuasion and prescription to help me. Using the carb blockers and appetite suppressants, I got to the point I'd use the carb blockers because I intended to eat bad stuff.
  • I bought the Weigh Down book, and it probably told me the same principals I finally found in OA, but I wasn't ready to admit it. Now I am.

I cannot do it myself.

Consider the scripture 2 Thessalonians 2:10(b)-12. It's not a pleasant scripture! Why would Paul talk of God's sending a delusion so all will be condemned? I don't know the future, but I do know the present. There's a literal Hell on earth to which we're condemned when, as compulsive overeaters, we persist in insisting we can manage for ourselves.

In light of my history, and -- I'm guessing -- your own, consider this: Maybe it's necessary for us to absolute reach the rock bottom of despair before we can let go and let God do it. Defeat on my own cleared the path to finding the spiritual way of absolutely conquering the weight I've carried psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually most of fifty years. Praise God, the bottom is there so the top can be found!

What have you tried, sure you could do it on your own? Make your own list. Answer the question, "Where's my bottom?"