Update: Below is the original post I wrote after I first read Jane Ault’s book. Her book has helped shape my perspective on emotions, addictions, responsibility and grace. After reading this book, I knew other women could benefit from this book, thus my Emotional Freedom Growth group was born.
“Discipline by itself does not make us more Christ-like. It’s simply the things we do to demonstrate our dependence on God.”- Jane Ault
This was a tough pill for me to swallow knowing that each choice we make can bring us closer or farther from our relationship with God. Knowing that discipline without the heart of surrender behind it is only temporary. I often go on my diet and exercise regimes one after the other and sometimes I can stick to them and sometimes not so much. I will have days of “healthy” eating and exercising mixed in with periods of food binges. In the beginning, I’m focused saying to myself “I got this.” Then at some point with one wrong decision I end up crashing in a whirlwind not even knowing how I got there. Making mindless choices that pull me further into a hole of food addiction and self-loathing. It’s not enough for me to control my food intake or exercise, it revolves around my heart behind it.
I was drawn to Jane Ault’s book, Emotional Freedom: The Steps We Must Take because emotions have always seemed to control me, including shame and anger towards myself. In her book, she addresses ways to manage these emotions in a more appropriate way. Many people think that emotional bondage revolves around being too emotionally reactive, but it can also be reflected in our inability to allow ourselves to feel negative emotions; thus developing destructive coping mechanisms.
I was throwing a pity party for myself before and got a hold of this book, and it is no coincidence that I read the book at the time I did. I gained 30 pounds in a short time frame earlier this year, and I looked everywhere outside of myself to blame. Saying to myself:
The hormones I took made me gain weight.
I must have Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism that’s why I’m gaining weight and having issues losing it.
I’ve been able to cover my binges by exercising each day, so it must be something wrong with my body all of a sudden.
I was reminded that God won’t take over the choices I make, and He will not assume responsibility for the consequences of my decision. The truth is I can’t eat cookies and ice cream and copious amounts of chocolate and peanut butter and expect not to gain weight. If I make unhealthy choices, I can expect harmful consequences.
A man reaps what he sows.- Galatians 6:7
Furthermore, addictions are the result of a lack of trust and lack of faith manifested as anxiety, worry, and fear. I’ve wondered for awhile now if my food addiction is just my thorn in my side, or if it is a tactic of the enemy to keep me from stepping into my full, true identity as the daughter of the king. I’ve gained clarity about which it is.
It is both.
God uses my food addiction to keep me close to Him encouraging me to rely on His strength. The enemy uses it against me when I satisfy my sinful nature and wallow in self-pity. When I give into my worldly temptations and let my indulgent nature get the best of me, I am never satisfied. I will never satiate my hunger or quench my “spiritual thirst” by consuming food alone. These conditions illustrate a deeper problem made evident by my daily choices.
When we are choosing, day-by-day, to live in a close relationship with Jesus- relying on His favor, depending on Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and trusting Him to meet our needs- God’s grace empowers us so that we can overcome our destructive and addictive desires and emotions. – Jane Ault
I can choose how the “thorn in my side” can be used each day. It can compel me to cry to out to God for strength and self-control and be used as food for my soul. Or, It can be utilized to pull me into the trap “rewarding myself” engaging in an all out binge, followed by regret.
Did you ever play “Mother May I” growing up? You know, that game where you ask the person who is the “mother” if you can take steps forward until you reach him or her before others do? Having faith and making decisions to support my relationship with Jesus allows me to take two steps towards Him, while making an impulsive decision forces me to take two steps back. I have yet to go forward without backtracking, but I never stop asking God, “Father may I take two steps forward?” And because of His grace, He answers, ‘Yes you may.”
The truth is how I choose to handle emotions or cravings stems from maintaining a deep and connected relationship with God. I am reminded of the value of spiritual growth from emotional transformation. He is looking out for me and can use my emotions and each of my decisions for a greater plan and His greater purpose.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
My dear friends, I want to encourage you that with whatever you are dealing with, whatever the thorn in your side may be, that each choice you make can allow God to use it to bring you closer to Him. He desires that close relationship wit; He wants us to seek Him. I don’t know about you, but I rather use this “thing” He has given me to draw me closer to Him and bring Him glory instead of letting it pull me away and allowing the enemy to use it for destruction.