I’m Not Defined By The Numbers
by Lysa TerKeurst
A few years ago, I was in an exercise class when the gal next to me leaned over and started to tell me that she’d spent the weekend with her sister. They’d had a good time but she came away concerned. It seems this sister had gained quite a bit of weight. I was half listening and half straining to lift my aching legs and crunch my screaming stomach. Suddenly I snapped to attention when she quipped, “I mean I can hardly believe it. I think my sister now weighs like 150 pounds.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or just keep my hilarious little secret to myself. The scandalous weight that horrified my workout friend was the exact number that had greeted me that very morning on my scale. And I was standing on one foot just in case that might slightly reduce the number.
About this time the exercise instructor directed us to grab our jump ropes, which abruptly ended the “overweight” sister conversation. But for the rest of the class, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I so desperately wanted to yell out three glorious words: “I AM FREE!” In that moment I had a small moment of victory over an identity disorder I’d battled for a very long time.
Like many women, I’d struggled with a flawed perception of myself. My sense of identity and worth were dependent on the wrong things—my circumstances or my weight or whether I yelled at the kids that day or what other -people thought of me. If I sensed I wasn’t measuring up, I kicked into either withdrawal mode or fix-it mode. Withdrawal mode made me pull back from relationships, fearing others’ judgments. I built walls around my heart to keep -people at a distance. Fix-it mode made me over-analyze other -people’s every word and expression looking for ways to manipulate their opinions to be more pleasing toward me. Take, for example, the crazy question I asked my husband every time I felt insecure while getting ready in the morning: “Does this make me look fat?”
This question had nothing to do with my outfit. It was an attempt to get him to say something, anything to make me feel better about myself. I could manipulate a compliment but, in the end, I still felt so empty.
Both of these are crazy modes to be in.
So, I found great joy in realizing that my workout buddy’s statement hadn’t rattled me. I wasn’t at my goal weight, but I was in the process of investing wisely in my health and in my spiritual growth. I had been diligently filling my heart and mind with God’s truths during this journey and these truths were protecting me. In this moment, I could feel the Holy Spirit filling me with a calm reassurance. And it felt absolutely great to say to myself, “One hundred and fifty pounds isn’t where I want to be, but it’s better than where I started. It’s tangible evidence of progress—and progress is good!”
I got a faint remembrance of some verses from Isaiah I’d recently marked in my Bible. Later, I looked them up and, though God was clearly talking to a ruler who probably had very different struggles than me, I found the words amazingly comforting. Here is what I heard God saying to me through the words He spoke to Isaiah:
“I will go before you … I [God] knew this comment would be made in exercise class this morning.
…and will level the mountains … and that’s why the Holy Spirit prompted you to remember these exact verses, even if only faintly, to protect you from what could have been a huge hurt to your heart.
I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron … I will break through the lies that could have imprisoned you and made you doubt your true worth.
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places … In the most unlikely places I will bless your efforts and reward your perseverance with small indications of your victory.
…so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name” … I love you, Lysa. I loved you when you weighed almost 200 pounds. I loved you at 167. I love you at 150. I love you and no number on the scale will ever change that. I’m not taking you on this journey because I need you to weigh less. I am taking you on this journey because I desire for you to be healthy in every sense of the word. I know your name, Lysa. Now, rest in the security of My name and all that it means to your identity. (Isaiah 45:2-3)
Do you see now why it’s so important to fill our hearts and minds with God’s words and how vital it is to make His truth the foundation not only for our identity but how we deal with food? The Holy Spirit uses God’s words stored up inside us to nudge us, remind us, redirect us, empower us, and lead us on to victory. I wish I could give you a more definitive formula. Something a little more packaged and step-by-step and not so reliant on having to make a choice to listen to the Holy Spirit.
But one thing I can assure you: God wants to be in communication with us. And, as I said in the previous chapter, if you dedicate this journey to God, He promises the Holy Spirit will be with you every step of the way. And that means you have access to a power beyond what you can muster up on your own.
Lysa TerKeurst is a wife, mother of five, conference speaker and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries where she can be heard daily on over 1200 radio stations. She has authored 13 books with her latest release being, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God Not Food. Daily, over 300,000 subscribers enjoy her ministry’s e-mail devotion that leads women straight to the heart of God. www.LysaTerKeurst.com
Taken from Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst Copyright © 2011. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.