I am a gratefully recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
The word “deserve” has been at the core of my disease. I have vacillated between believing that I deserve all or whatever I cared to eat and believing that I did not deserve to live a long or healthy life. Each of those beliefs opened the door to negative behavior. In the first case I would reward myself with a string of unhealthy binges, and in the second I would sentence myself to a long tirade of unhealthy binges. The outcome was the same either way: I overate, isolated, and spiraled into despair. Outside the tiny circle of Me, I applied deserve to others as well, as I judged and sentenced every other person, place, and institution according to my warped sense of deserve. As odd as it may sound, given the low esteem in which I held myself, part of me believed that every other human should aspire to be like me (or, rather, do things my way), and that I was somehow God’s favored choice for ruler of the known world, though the world did not seem to recognize it. Very disappointing!
When I was at the gym this morning worshipping God in movement and praise, it occurred to me that the word “deserve” stands is stark contradiction to the word “grace” on which the Gospel is built. In the times when I recognize my sin and feel ashamed, that is a good shame. When I feel as though I deserve punishment or death, there is actually a spiritual truth there. It is called conviction. That cognition, however, is not there to drive me to suicide or harmful addictions, it is to bring me back under grace where God has wanted me all along. As I stand in the cleansing flow of God’s undeserved forgiveness, I am washed of the hate that judges, the fear that despises, the material desire that covets, and the shame that seeks to overwhelm me in despair. So that grace would cost us nothing, it had to cost someone everything. Only one payee could satisfy the debt of the world by one death, the Creator Himself, who planted Himself in the human, Jesus Christ, just so He could demonstrate light and life to those of us overcome by the darkness of death, and then to die to buy that life for everyone who would accept it. How exciting!
Deserve lets us know we are faulty; Grace lets us know we are worthy! Today I choose to respond to grace.
Lift My Life Up, by Unspoken
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
“The basic concept of Overeaters Anonymous is that compulsive overeating is a disease that affects the person on three levels— physical, spiritual, and emotional.” — Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, p. 234
I’ve been listening to a lot of recordings of medical missionaries lately, and it is amazing to hear so many saying what it took recovery for me to discover myself: that the physical, spiritual and emotional attributes of a person are all connected, and that one cannot be treated without addressing all three, or the problem has not been resolved. I thank God for giving me the disease of compulsive overeating (or, if you prefer, food addiction). If I had no malfunction of the physical body, I am not sure I ever would have believed I had a spiritual illness. At 320 pounds (145.15kg, 22.9 stone), with acid reflux disease, chronic severe hypertension, chronic fatigue, severely diminished agility, unpredictable mood swings, explosive fits of rage, and finally a severed knee ligament that snapped under my weight, there was little denying that my life was in a state of dis-order. I remember objecting to the word “disease” at first, until my sponsor asked me if I was at ease. “Certainly not!” was the obvious answer. “Then you are at dis-ease. Wouldn’t you say?” Suddenly the word “disease” fit perfectly.
Fortunately, the diseases of addiction have a treatment: a remediation of the Gospel of grace in the adaptation of the Twelve Steps. From the recognition that I need help (Step One) all the way through to sharing that help with someone else (Step Twelve), these steps are, to me, what discipleship should have always been in the first place.
Thank You, God, for the disease of and deliverance from compulsive overeating!
From Proverbs 21, NIV:
2 A person may think their own ways are right,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
Self-delusion is the precursor to self-gratification. This demonstrates the need for a constant Step Ten: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” I need to ask God to identify and point out shortcomings, not so I can rid myself of them, but so I can surrender them to His loving care and redemptive grace. He cleanses those who will be clean.
From my reading through the Bible, currently in 2 Peter 3, NIV:
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Peter warns of the coming destruction of earth and the promise of salvation for those who hope in Jesus. I think it is fitting that he tells us to be careful not to be deceived and fall from our secure position. Peter, in his simple outspoken way hushes all the theological arguers who dispute the security of salvation, by calling it secure and yet warning us not to fall from it. Priceless! When we put our focus on growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, we will find less time to argue about such matters, because our hands will be full of the hungry, the sick, the hurting, and the imprisoned.
God, You know that I am a faulty human being, but one for whom You died, so I am valued beyond my understanding. Please grow me in grace and relationship with You, so that my knowledge of You may be real, tangible, and useful and not merely scholastic. Help me look forward to Your coming, but not idly. Keep me busily pursuing Your righteousness by selflessly serving those around me like You did and do.
From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84:
This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.
*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.