Over the past few years as I’ve become open about my struggle with food addiction, overcoming insecurity, and finding freedom a kind of personal ministry has evolved. I’ve had the privilege of speaking into other’s lives, mostly because I’m a little farther down the path–that is all. I do not pretend to have the answers. All I have is my own experience and what I have learned on this journey, and my prayer is that God can use my story, insight, and experience to help others find freedom. That is all I ever want.
I learned early on that I am a stubborn kind of girl. I have a thread of rebellion running through my personality like a snagged string that threatens to unravel the entire sweater. (I don’t even like sweaters.) But that’s exactly what this streak of defiance does to me. Unravels. Sabotages. Destroys. God also knows this about me, and he wants me to grow out of the prideful stubborn heart that tends to hold me back. Maybe you can relate. If you call yourself a Christian, Christ-follower, Jesus-lover or any other name to describe a person who follows the teachings of Jesus, than you can relate. He talks about this in His Book. He calls it the sin nature.
You see, God is most concerned that we become HOLY. Like Him. It is His chief concern. When we are not, he uses things in our lives to sharpen, strengthen, prune, and reveal the things keeping us from that holiness. (This is called Sanctification. The process of becoming holy. After we have received Jesus as savior (that’s called justification) our journey of sanctification can begin. Justification is already done for us, but sanctification, takes our participation to make happen.
So you might wonder, “Why do I struggle with this?” and “this” could be anything from obesity and food addiction, to marital problems, joblessness, illness, grief over a death, parenting, self-doubt, insecurity, insignificance, or any of the other woes we find ourselves walking through in this fallen, broken world. Does God cause these things? No. But He uses them.
For me, he knows food, exercise and weight are the best tools to train me in righteousness. He knows my lack of consistency, procrastination and general laziness are places I need to grow out of in my process of sanctification. Other people who do not struggle with weight or food addiction will have their own struggles as mentioned above, and each struggle will be in line with their areas of weakness. God also allows this so that we will not be able to do what He knows we will want to do and that is try and figure it out on our own, without Him.
God won’t give us the easy way out. He loves us too much. He is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. He would rather our character be strengthened than just give us what we want. He’s a good father. He wants to teach us, change us, transform us… And he knows this can happen through our frustrations. He knows this is most often when we turn to him for help. When nothing else seems to be working.
When we decide not to participate in our journey of sanctification, and ignore the issues in our lives, we stay stagnant. When we do this it is a deliberate choice not to mature in Christ. It is a deliberate choice not to step toward God and where he is leading us. The enemy loves this, by the way, because there is nothing less threatening to Satan than a stagnant Christian, stuck in their own stubborn pride. They have no power there, no influence, no real life.
But Jesus has come that we may have life and have it to the full. To get that life we have to be willing participants in our own transformation. He won’t just take all our struggles away and give us what we want, but He does give us opportunities to learn and grow through those struggles. He wants us to work with Him toward real heart change. It is in the work of inward change, that outward change will not only happen, but will last.
Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Are we alone? No! The good news is to get to this place of sanctification we’ll need Jesus and lot of Him and you know what? It turns out, He’s actually the greatest gift of all. He’s the one our hearts really longed for all along. We thought it was an easy life, a struggle-free existence, money in the bank, flat stomaches, a great marriage, no problems, but those are just reflections of a much deeper longing we have within: Being known for who we really are. Knowing and loving ourselves for who He says we are. Being loved by Him, and loving Him in return.
My heart LONGS for each person reading this to find that level of surrender to Him. When you do, you’ll know true freedom and the effort of this life will come from an indescribable power rising from within your soul. The very Holy Spirit–who communes with Jesus all the time–giving us the power, patience, and fortitude to continue our transformation one day at a time.