When I was 19-years old I weighed 142 lbs. I am sure some of you read that and say, "that's great!" "So what?" Just for perspective sake, It was a solid 20 lbs more than I am carrying around at 44-years old. I am on the slighter side hovering just around 5'3". I wasn't obese by any means. Most wouldn't have said I was overweight. I was not in a healthy BMI, but back then I just cared about the size of my Guess Jeans. The ones with the triangle on the back pocket. That's when I committed to my first DIET.
When it comes to getting healthy, (which often we associate with losing weight) the first thing we think is LACK. I’m going to be so deprived. I am going to starve, waste away, I CAN’T. The truth about physical health is nothing could be more incorrect. It’s not about lack. It’s about provision. Just the right kind. So often we find ourselves in a physically unhealthy place because we have been living to eat, not eating to live.
In the past five years as a health coach I have grasped what proper nutrition is and created habits for myself and others to create transformation and lifelong change. That said, I am NOT perfect. In fact just a couple years ago "living to eat" was a thing for me. And it wasn’t until one desperate night sitting on the couch next to my husband with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s “Everything but the kitchen sink” in my hands that I recognized what was lacking was not my stomach, but my heart.
I had been sad for quite a few weeks, honestly more like months. I had been gunning through it trying to out work, out hustle and out last my depressed state. I was struggling to find peace and comfort. I found myself going to food for help. When I was sad, I ate. When I was frustrated, I ate. Discouraged, I ate and when I was overwhelmed I ate. That night on the couch as I plopped down with spoon and pint. I found myself feeling like somehow this ice cream was going to give me a moment of solace and that somewhere in this spoonful of chocolate I would find hope and rest from my troubled emotions. Logically that just didn’t add up. In fact this pattern was going to quickly magnify my issues as I packed on unwanted pounds real quick. And it’s not just physical. The science of sugar and unnecessary carbs are proven to send your chemical make up into a tail spin of discouragement. (I can do a free health assessment for more on that.)
The hard reality I embraced that night is life IS emotional. When we are happy, we celebrate and EAT. When it’s the holidays, we gather and EAT, when we are in the breakroom at work, we relax and EAT. And I was experienced when life got tough I soothed my soul and began to EAT.
But the other hard reality to embrace is that the donut doesn’t satisfy. The ice cream only comforts for a few brief moments before it leaves me feeling regret. The burrito does not change my circumstances. I simply escape for a minute to return with nothing gained but a bloated belly.
Here is the hopeful reality. When I saturate my heart with what is true, the more able I am to resist the vicious cycle of emotional eating. What is true is found in Psalm 23:1
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”
A shepherd is describes as one who cares with tender affections towards his flock. The author of this passage is David who was once a shepherd himself. He remembered what need they had of a shepherd, and what a kindness it was to them to have one that was skillful and faithful; he once ventured his life to rescue a lamb. This illustrates God’s care of us. So much so that the scripture goes on to say, I lack nothing. This is the promise that God, our shepherd, our feeder, won’t allow us to want for anything that is necessary and good for us. Even more is actually implied here. Another translation says, “I will not want.” So not only will I lack nothing, but I will be supplied whatever I need. I will want for nothing. If not immediately, than in due time.
When we saturate our hearts with this truth it can redirect our desires. Knowing that whatever feels empty in our lives in the moment, when we shift our cravings toward the source that truly can satisfy we be filled. The shepherd is where the hope is found. Not the of ice-cream. There is no power in that pint to give me what I really need. The source is the shepherd who left his entire flock just to see me saved.