I am an addict. My drug of choice is easily accessible and I have no trouble getting my fix. Due to the shame of my addiction, I try to hide it, but the outward evidence is clear to all. I have struggled with this addiction for most of my adult life. I have tried both abstinence and harm-reduction programs with varying, but never yet long-term, success. My days have dawned with prayers for strength and the resolve to “just say no.” My days have frequently ended with a sense of failure and prayers for forgiveness.
During my psychological assessment prior to being accepted as a cadet, tests indicated that I had addictive personality traits. The psychiatrist seemed relieved that I could readily identify food as the issue. I often feel like I bear the shame of this struggle alone, and yet I know I don’t. I hear that one of the most common goals among officers is weight loss.
To be clear, I do not want to contribute to our culture’s obsession with thinness. But it is also my responsibility to keep my body healthy to be able to serve God.
If so many others struggle as I do, why do we make light of it at potluck meals? Why are we so concerned about offending those we visit if we decline the offered temptation? Why do we never preach the myriad of biblical references to gluttony? Why do we notice the speck in the eyes of the clients we see on the streets and in our shelters, and yet ignore the log in our own eyes?
I proclaim from the pulpit Paul’s words that “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) and yet I don’t consistently practise what I preach. In my head I know that “his divine power has given (me) everything (I) need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3) but the emotions connected to this compulsive behaviour often convince me otherwise. I have often been guilty of allowing my stomach to be my god.
My journaled prayers frequently end with, “Oh, Lord, please don’t give up on me.” I have long recognized that, for me, this is more a spiritual battle than a physical one, and felt it was one I was consistently losing. A pivotal moment in my journey was in August 2012, as a cadet on summer assignment. I read familiar words through eyes illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and I was moved to tears.
I have often been guilty of allowing my stomach to be my god.
“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:19-21). The voice of condemnation I heard in my head every day was not the voice of God. The voice of truth tells me that I am loved, holy and forgiven.
A Bible study written by Beth Moore called “Breaking Free” addresses the issue of being enslaved, and how to experience true freedom in Christ. This is an exceptional study that goes beyond any type of self-help or self-discipline strategies. Moore encourages her readers to accept the truth that “walking consistently does not mean walking perfectly.” But walking consistently does require obedience.
This is where I am today, recognizing that I must consistently submit my will and life to God. I must approach this struggle “one day at a time.” God has clearly laid a path for me that I am to follow, and I must daily choose to be obedient. I am spurred on by the words of John Wesley, who wrote,“The essential part of Christian holiness lies in giving your heart wholly to God.”
My heart is wholly committed to honouring God in my life—all of my life. There will be days when I stumble, but that doesn’t mean I have failed God, because he knows my heart. I am a soldier and I continue to fight this spiritual battle. I am called to preach a message of hope, love and forgiveness, and I can’t allow my addiction to make me sluggish and ineffective for my Lord. I am strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. I put on the full armour of God, so that I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes (see Ephesians 6:11).
Food is a beautiful gift from God, intended for both sustenance and pleasure. But like any of God’s gifts, Satan will do all he can to twist and pervert our perspective and enslave us from experiencing the full life Jesus came to give us.
“ ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’ ” (John 4:34). Jesus was nourished through submission to his Father’s will; Jesus found satisfaction and fullness in obedience. With the dawning of each new day, this is also my prayer.
Lieutenant Anne Holden is the executive director of the St. Catharines Community Resource Centre/Booth Centre in the Ontario Great Lakes Division.
Feature photo: © jchizhe/stock.Adobe.com