I am a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
I grew up in a denomination that rebelled against the religious seasons and holidays except when it suited them, and so never observed Lent until I overhauled my spiritual outlook and made the leap into a denomination that does observe these things. I am looking forward to participating in this season of preparation for Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I understand it, Lent is observed by giving of oneself. Some give up something they enjoy, some practice extra alms giving, and others devote themselves in some extra way to prayer. In whatever expression they choose, the focus is on returning something of self in gratitude for the gift of a Savior. I find myself thrilled with the prospect of participating in such an observance, especially when I consider how many people across the globe are praying, giving, abstaining, and repenting in unison with me to the glory of God.
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
“I now see my Higher Power as a very personal and loving God, there to guide and direct me if I just open myself to Him and listen. He has done so much more for me than food could ever do.”
Like the contributor to today’s entry, I was practicing a religious outward existence but giving my spiritual, emotional and physical self to food and upheaval, basically living my life for the idol of self, doing whatever King Self wanted, wished for, or willed. When, in Step Three, I deposed that wicked old king, and put God back on the throne, I began to live in a more consistent state of gratitude, and it became a pleasure to offer new things over to God to allow Him to deal with them as He chose. I am still seeking new ways to honor Him by giving up parts of myself. Every such sacrifice of gratitude is instantly compensated with the joy of a mutual relationship with God.
From Proverbs 13:
“2 From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things,
but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.”
The cravings of the sinful nature bring harm, first to the one craving and then to others. I cannot divide myself from my flesh, but I can disengage my response to its lusts. The lips seem to be the gateway, not just for what goes in but, according to this verse, what comes out. Whether hate is seething out or seeping in, the mouth is where the guard needs to go up, so that only encouraging love comes out and only enriching fuel goes in – just the enjoyable good things.
“How can I best serve Thee? Thy will (not mine) be done!” (AA Big Book, page 85)
From my reading through the Bible, currently in Luke 7:
The faith of a gentile military commander, a widow’s dead son raised to life, a messenger preparing the way, and a sinful woman’s sacrifice of self at the feet of Jesus all testified, in this chapter, to the Lordship of the Christ. In Jesus’ own words,
“35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
The woman described in verses 36-50 submitted her posture, her tears, her service, her treasure, and her faith in holy submission to God simultaneously in one act of repentance. The text described her as one who had lived a sinful life. How many of us fit that description? Still, one assumes that this is a description of comparison, and that she lived a life that was considered sinful by social standards as well as spiritual. How sweet it must have been to hear that all the shame and regrets of her life had been washed away! Of course it was! I know from personal experience when my failures were erased and my faults were covered by grace. The gratitude that brings makes me envy the woman on the floor even over the host of the dinner party at whose house the Lord ate.
“44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.’”
“In order to continue being abstinent, we will have to have a Power greater than ourselves operating daily in our lives. This is always available to us as long as we continue working the twelve steps and living out our decision to trust God’s guidance in everything we do. As we become aware of what our eating guidelines should be, we ask God for the willingness and the ability to live within them each day. We ask and we receive, first the willingness, and then the ability. We can count on this without fail.
“As we continue abstaining, we find we can depend upon God to eliminate our yearning for the kind of eating that harms us. Much of the time, we no longer want to eat unwisely and we come to prefer foods that are good for us. This miracle of sanity is an everyday reality for thousands of recovering compulsive overeaters.”
*Abstinence began for me on May 11th, 2010.
† For the sake of accountability, the details of my eating are posted in my online food log.
‡ From “Our Invitation to You” out of Overeater’s Anonymous: “The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous. We use AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, changing only the words ‘alcohol’ and ‘alcoholic’ to ‘food’ and ‘compulsive overeater.’”