I have always felt l have lived my life by “if only.”
If only I got married.
If only I got that teaching job.
If only I could lose this weight.
If only I could have another child.
If only I had a piece of chocolate!
On and on it goes, until my soul is hoarse from shouting, “Will there ever be anything to satisfy me?” I’d tried everything, yet each road to fulfillment only led me deeper into sin and dissatisfaction.
I accepted Christ at age thirteen and have served Him for 43 years. In that time, I have learned nothing but God’s love can fill our hearts and satisfy our lives! When I started to understand more of God’s love for me, I began to feel like His “beloved.” I am His treasured possession.
I’d never experienced this reality, because I allowed other people and things to fill the void.
I’d been looking to food to fill me. Finally, health concerns brought me to recognize my addiction. The hardest part of the journey was seeing that my sin of gluttony nailed Jesus to the cross. I sat on the floor and wept.
Learning more of God’s unconditional love helped me realize I could change, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Desperate for direction for treating this addiction, I read I Really Want to Change, So Help Me God (James MacDonald). The journey from feeding my face to feasting on God’s love began, and I learned to move from feasting to fasting (with Wendy Speake’s 40 Day Sugar Fast).
I clung to John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.” I sought the Vine more intentionally than ever.
I’d also attempted to find fulfillment through sexual satisfaction. My sexuality was rooted in the lies I was told as a teenager, including challenges related to dysmorphic body image and childhood abuse. The struggle in our marriage was a raging sex drive, mine, uncommon for women. I was lost in hopelessness, but God had already provided a way to freedom.
God showed me His love in action through 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.”
God intervened through a radio commercial for Authentic Intimacy, a ministry sharing God’s design for sexuality. Here, my desperate struggle was given a voice and a name, and I found hope and help. I understood the broken lies I had been told in the past, the truth about God’s available healing, and the resources to pursue recovery. My life changed dramatically as I understood another, deeper level of my Father’s love for me. I sought my Beloved more than sexual fulfillment.
And then, He showed me one more stronghold from which I needed to be released in His tender mercies: shopping. Because my husband traveled, I was frequently lonely. I attempted to fill the void with shopping, and it was terrible. I was still searching, but God never stopped seeking me.
“I will no longer be with you unless you remove from among you what is set apart [for destruction].” (Joshua 7:12b) God’s words to Israel convicted me of my addiction. I had given God so much; now He asked me to sacrifice my addiction to shopping, too. I received grace from God and my husband, and began to rely on God alone.
From time to time, I return to the false loves of food and shopping, only to be uncomfortable and poorer. Physical pain came around again, and God moved mightily to show me a blessing I had missed all my life, fasting. Wanting to offer my pain and brokenness up for complete healing, I asked God to show me how to fast. I started with a fast from music and noise. Gradually God asked for my food: sweets and garbage snacking.
When I flounder, He gently calls me back, reminds me I am His beloved; once again, He promises,
this is the Lord’s declaration–
turn to me with all your heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Tear your hearts, not just your clothes,
and return to the Lord your God.
For he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger, abounding in faithful love[.]” (Joel 2:12)
God is removing the idols I built in my life and replacing them with His plan and purpose. I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live, only through Jesus Christ!
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