change ahead signSomeone asked me yesterday, “What happened in your life that made you decide to make such a big change?” While I am used to answering with Step One, “We admitted we were powerless over food; that our lives had become unmanageable,” I was drawn deeper into thought by this woman’s question. I decided to recall a few of the precipitating factors in my coming to Step One.

  • I was running out of doctors because I kept firing the ones who told me I needed to lose weight.
  • I was diagnosed with hypertension, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, and extreme obesity (47.3 BMI).
  • I saw myself in the mirror.  It was a several times daily experience.
  • I stopped sharing photos of myself, even when honored at work and featured in the news, too ashamed of my size and appearance.
  • My tool belt fell off me in the middle of the street while I was working because it would no longer reach around me.  It was something akin to losing one’s pants in front of an audience.
  • I got exhausted just getting dressed or walking to a flight of stairs.  (Not up them.  To them!)
  • I profusely perspired in 65 degree air-conditioned rooms.
  • I suffered the embarrassment of rejection from a roller coaster ride in front of my children because I was too big to fit in the oversized harness even with two attendants pushing and squeezing with all their might. (They had me stand with the discarded shoes to wait for my kids.)
  • I grew too heavy for my own skeleton, and severed my ACL (knee ligament) during mild play with my nephews at a city park.
  • I was denounced as a hypocrite while preaching “total balance: physical, mental and spiritual” to a group of healthy twenty-somethings, while I stood with crutches, weighing 320 pounds, beet red, sweating in a 65 degree air-conditioned room.
  • Three days after attending a seminar on the physiology of addiction as a conditioned response to stress, I caught myself eating, in response to stress, half of a pie that was given to my wife to honor her for Mother’s Day and was supposed to have been reserved for later.
  • I recognized that I was pursuing the will of the flesh rather than the will of God, and serving my lusts and desires as an act of rebellious idolatry. The irony is that what the flesh wants is detrimental even to itself.

This is a short list, but it served to remind me that I would rather live a day in the vitality of recovery than a year in the misery I once survived.  By the grace of Almighty God, and through working the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous, I am a recovering compulsive overeater.  I have been freed from 140 physical pounds and untold emotional weight. (More details can be found on my blog pages.)

Whatever shadowy death valley you’re walking through, there is hope for Light and Life on the other side of it. Just ask my Higher Power.  His name is Jesus.

Psalm 23 NIV

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Psalm 147:3 NIV

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.