“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
For more than two decades, I’ve struggled with emotional eating. This diary extract from my eighteen-year-old self describes the constant war between my flesh and will power:
I eat and eat and eat until I’m sickened by myself, stuffed with food… tortured by self disgust and loathing. Sometimes I am sick, literally, until my throat is scorched and my body wracked sore. It scares me that I keep eating. I hate it. ‘More food’ is always on my mind.
The definition of bulimia (nervosa) is
‘an emotional disorder in which the sufferer follows periods of compulsive overeating with periods of fasting or self-induced vomiting, often accompanied by depression.’ -The Penguin English Dictionary
I can’t recall for how long I was bulimic, but I do know I continued to target hatred at my weak, imperfect flesh. My identity was tied up in the very thing I abhorred.
I came to Christ in 2008 when a tangible rush of God’s love overcame this body that despised itself.
Since then I have realised my weakness is necessary. The affirmation of my worth begins and ends with my Father in Heaven. The apostle Paul puts it this way:
“But he said to me ‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” [2 Cor 12:9 ESV]
In the power of Jesus Christ I experienced complete freedom in many areas of slavery and idolatry, but the sin of gluttony remained. Constantly I was on my knees, in tears, over this compulsion to gorge on chocolate and sugar-laden foods. If the Holy Spirit lives in me, why am I still helpless after five years of repentant prayer?
And then during bible study one day, I was jolted by these words: The root cause of sin is fear.
What am I scared about when it comes to food? And then I realised. Panic accompanied every resolution I made to break this addiction. Unconsciously the dialogue ran: Gorge now, for tomorrow it will be forever never again.
Naming this fear changed everything.
Ok, God. If this is the root of my gluttony, take this fear. I cannot break this bondage myself. When I wake tomorrow, remove all desire for chocolate, cakes, biscuits, slices, lollies… all of it, every treat I’m addicted to.
And in the morning, it was just as I’d asked.
Temptation simply did not exist anymore. That was in August 2013, sixteen months ago as I write this.
My husband’s stockpile of sugar still means that chocolate lives in our fridge, and biscuits and lollies in our pantry; yet I am unaffected by their presence. Not once have my hands reached out for them, no struggle have I endured.
It is the strongest testimony I can use to demonstrate that the fruit of the Spirit is never in our effort.
Self control has been given to me. It is in His power alone that God gives us these things:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Gal 5:22-24 ESV
There is a line in the sand God has drawn, so with this liberation has also come responsibility. I am sober in the knowledge that to step over this line would be a deliberate act against God.
The only baked goods I can eat are those where dried or fresh fruit, honey, or maple syrup have been used as a natural sweetener. The closest I get to chocolate is raw cocoa added to the mixture. I have the delight of healthy food that satisfies my body’s requirement for sugar, and I savour every mouthful.
Christ has crucified the craving of my flesh, so now I live in the incomparable lightness of freedom.
At social gatherings, when asked how can I refuse delicious cakes and abstain from chocolate, I have the glorious pleasure to say:
“THAT’S a God story let me tell you…”
Story of Trace Pezzali. She is passionate about God and seeks to honour and praise Him in her stories and poetry. She lives in Western Australia, with a lovely hubby and two gorgeous little children.