Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert.  – 1 Peter 5:7-8a

 The sun shined bright in the brilliant blue sky casting a feeling of spring for everyone around, but not for me.  I did not feel its warm rays wash over me with the hope of newness that this season surely brings.  No.  I sat in the shadow of my shame, head hung low over my plate as I ate what should’ve been a celebratory meal filled with joy and excitement for what was soon to come – the birth of our first child.

It was a nice gesture – my husband coming home from work just to take me out to lunch – but I couldn’t concentrate on the thoughtfulness that went into it.  I could only feel the pain of my shame as the voices began to creep about every darkened crevice of my heart…

“Did you see what she ordered?!  Can you believe it?!  Just look at her – disgusting!  Stuffing her face like that when she can barely even fit into the booth!  Truly appalling.  Really, why would anyone choose to do that to themselves?  As if being pregnant is a good excuse to over-indulge.  She should be eating a salad – something nutritious for the baby – not a great big burger and a plate full of fries…Oh my gosh, did you see that?!  She just ordered a refill on her fries!!  Clearly she is not going to be a good mom when she can’t even take care of her baby properly in the womb!  She does not deserve this gift…” 

Each sickening sneer struck my heart with a stinging blow!  How on earth did I get here?  Not to the restaurant, but to this place of self-loathing – self-hatred – self-disgust!  You see, it was not the voices of the neighboring customers as I imagined.  No.  It was the thoughts whispered from my very own heart…how I had learned and come to think and feel of myself for my choices and results of them in my life.  Yes, it was a self-created shadow of shame I was living in, not the light of newness that God planned and intended for me…and all because I chose food over God to be my comfort – to fill my stomach when it was truly my heart that was longing to be filled in my time of distress and loneliness.

My daughter will be five this spring, and though her life brought much newness into our days – a ray shining full of love and joy – the shadow of shame has not been cast out.  No.  It continues to lie before me as my food struggles continue to loom behind me in relentless pursuit.  Like the Israelites in the desert, I have been circling and circling this seemingly hopeless hillside rather than allowing God to lead me into the promise land where a complete fullness in Him is to be had.  BUT, just like God changed the course of the Israelites when He said: “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.” (Deut. 2:3), He is also calling me off of this worn down, waste of my time path, to turn to Him – true north.

Last month I began reading the book Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, and almost 2 weeks ago now, I began working through it with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies and over 40,000 other women.  Yes, that’s right, I said 40,000+!  Turns out I’m not the only one with this struggle, but even more exciting than the sheer number of woman joining together to conquer this struggle in their lives, is the fact that it is already proving to be life changing, and not just for myself (click here to read more testimonies).  Truly I am filled with joy as I watch Him at work in the hearts of so many women, setting us free from our desert wanders and releasing us into His miraculous wonders!

One of the aspects of the study that touched my heart this week is our memory verse:

M2C week 2

Every other time I’ve come upon this scripture, I have viewed it as two separate instructions for us – first, to cast our anxieties on God, and second, to be self-controlled and alert.  I never caught the connection between the two until I began fishing around in the verse via a technique called verse mapping.  By casting myself deeper into the depths of this Word, I caught onto the fact that the first half of this scripture is a “how-to” of sorts for the second half.  Let me explain…

When I was pregnant with our daughter, it was during a very anxious time in my life.  Not only was I facing labor, an event that embodies the definition of anxiety for many woman, but we had also just made a major move, were struggling financially, experienced several deaths in the family, and more…all on top of those ever so lovely out of control hormones.  So yes, I had plenty of cause to be anxious.  Being anxious wasn’t the problem though, it was how I handled all of those overwhelmingly anxious feelings – by trying to bury them and numb them with food, rather than casting them on God such as instructed in 1 Peter 5:7.

By choosing to cast food into my troubles, rather than casting my troubles onto God, I did not and could not obtain the second half of the verse – be self-controlled.  Instead, I became less and less self-controlled and as I did, I became more and more anxious, which then led me to be even less self-controlled, and even more anxious!  Can you picture the crazy cycle propelling me faster and further away from self-control and away from our God?  You see, the verse doesn’t read: “Cast food on all your anxiety because it cares for you.  Be out of control and disillusioned.”   No, it instructs us to cast our anxiety on God and when we do that, THEN we are able to be self-controlled and alert.  Yes, these two verses – these two seemingly separate instructions – really do go hand in hand!

So how do we do this – how do we resist our urges to cast food into our anxiety so that we can get off this crazy cycle of being controlled by food – this hillside we’re continually wandering around in defeat and shame?  We find that answer in Galatians 5:16 (emphasis added):

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” 

That answer then begs another question: how do we “live by the Spirit?”  Lysa gives us this answer too in Ch.6:

“…we read the Bible with the intention of putting into practice what we read while asking the Holy Spirit to direct us in knowing how to do this.” – Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave 

She even provides two prayers to help with doing just that…

M2C week 2b

…and they are having a huge impact in calling me away from being anxious willed – where I am prone to wander the hillsides of defeat – to being Spirit filled – where I am being led north into victory, and you can have this too!  If you, like me, have been finding yourself casting food into your anxiety and living anxious willed, rather than casting your anxiety onto God and living spirited filled, can I encourage you to check out Lysa’s book and the Bible study going on right now?  It just may hold the answers you’ve been praying for.

Lord, I pray that as we face our anxieties each day, you would help us to remember that we can feed our anxiety with food and live in defeat, or we can fill our anxiety with You and live in victory.  Give us the strength to choose you – to choose victory!  In Jesus name, amen.

Choose God.  Choose victory.  You deserve it!

“We were made for victory.  Sometimes we just have to find our way to that truth.”  –Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave