Friday, May 16, 2008

Unsurrendered Grief

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God ~ I Corinthians 10:31

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him ~ Colossians 3:17

There are many areas of my private grief that I have had to bring under the submission of God lest they destroy me. What I mean by submission is I place myself directly under God so that my grief can be shown for what it really is and the light of His truth direct me on how to proceed. Sometimes my grief has been revealed to be bitterness and anger. Other times my grief is jealousy. Sometimes my grief is genuine, a longing for things to come. Sometimes my grief isn't even grief at all, just an excuse for a self-centered moment of laziness. But there is one area of my grief that I have refused to surrender - that I have claimed as my own, as my right. And that is my eating.

When I was pregnant with Lia, I had to give up a lot of the comfort foods that I often clung to in stressful times. Nothing satisfies me like a cold Pepsi or Cherry Coke at the end of a long day. Those who know me well have even heard me sigh as that first drink cools my throat. Soda was just one of the things I chose to give up during pregnancy, for my own health and the health of my baby. But the day Lia died, something snapped inside my mind.

The morning of her passing was filled with phone calls, arrangements, and confusion. I did not think to care for myself, even though I would need to go through a regular labor and delivery the next morning. By evening, I was hungry and as my husband and I wandered through the store preparing for our hospital stay, I saw all my old indulgences. Suddenly, all my reason for restraint was gone. It didn't matter any more. For three years I had been either pregnant or nursing, always trying my best to stay healthy for my babies. But now my last one was gone, and though her body was still with me, she no longer needed my health and my strength. I simply quit caring.

At first, the eating was justifiable. Friends brought delicious foods for us or took us out to dinner. The holidays and travel meant that eating out was the norm. But by January my eating was clearly out of control and was beginning to show.

Several months later now, I am 15 pounds heavier. I have tried many times to get a grip on the eating, but it has become my refuge in stress and in boredom. The moment I become frustrated or grieved I head to the kitchen or to the local convenience store. More than the weight, it is the emotional effects that scare me. I become so focused on trying to meet my indulgences that I completely disregard the needs of everyone else in our family. And when I cannot satisfy my craving my moods become uncontrollable and extreme.

God has knocked on my heart numerous times with this issue, and even though it seems that the rest of my life is laid open before Him, I have refused time and again to surrender this area. I may have made good plans or intentions after a bout of guilt, but nothing that has stuck for more than a few days. But I think I am beginning to understand why nothing has worked.

My motivation for trying to get my eating in check has always been based in my fear of getting fat, my fear of not looking as good as my friends, my fear of being unhealthy. But the source of my eating - my grief and my anger about Lia's death - those things lie deeper than my need to look good for people. So when the desire to eat is flamed, no obsession with my image is going to be able to quench it. The only thing that can quench it is God Himself, whose grace and mercy can reach even deeper than my deepest pain.

I started a new bible study this morning, one to help curb eating addictions through showing that satisfaction is found in God alone and examining why we choose to go to food instead of to Him. The key verse today was from I Corinthians 3 - that we with unveiled faces reflect God's glory and by His spirit are transformed into His image. That is the same verse I studied last fall just 2 weeks before we lost our baby, and the same verse that directed our decisions in the week following her death.

When we unveil our face, when we look to God and allow His light to be reflected in us - the world comes to know Him. With unveiled faces we can show our joy in the time of sorrow, a joy that only comes from Christ. But apparently I was ignoring a key element of that verse - that we are being transformed more into His image. That is the challenging part. It is not enough to be joyful in the areas of grief that are easier to endure, or that our personality better inclines us to endure, we must allow every part of our being be exposed to the transforming light of God. A mirror with any imperfections will distort the light it reflects. God desire to work out all the imperfections in me so that He may be clearly displayed in my life.

Lord thank you for the light You have been shining upon me, a light that has brought me joy and hope, but also a light that reveals my sin. Lord I confess that I have not allowed you access to every area of my grief. I cannot go on attempting to satisfy my hurt through food and drink. I know that only You can truly heal me. Lord I pray that You would continue to show me a hundred times a day just how real and true and present You are. Give me faith to trust the eyes of my heart and follow your way. I love You Lord, and I am sorry for thinking that it was okay to destroy my body out of anger. You have many things for me yet to do, and I need a healthy body to fully accomplish Your purposes. Heal me of the damage done and lead me in Your everlasting way.

And whatever I do whether in word or deed, and whatever I eat or drink, may it all be done to Your glory.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14

There are times when I want to be completely free of the exhaustion of grief. When I want relief from the constant thoughts of my circumstances. When I feel that I cannot endure another day. But God is gracious, and understanding, and brings across a simple verse in an evening quiet time. He says to me

My child, just rest and wait. I know you are tired and weary, but just rest and wait. Do only what I have shown you to do and do not be anxious about matters whose times have not yet come. I will never give you more than what I know you can, through my grace, endure.