I have struggled with my weight since I was a young child. I grew up on the good stuff – home cooked food! My family is in the seafood industry so we always had fresh fish and shrimp to eat and a lot of the time it was fried. Every family gathering revolved around large amounts of food and of course, you had to try everything people brought.
That probably sounds like that’s why I gained weight all my life, but there were many in my family that ate the same foods but did not become overweight. So why do I struggle so much with it? There were some in my family that were overweight, but I became the largest of the bunch.
A struggle can be defined as a forceful effort to get free of something that is restraining you. We all have struggles in this life. Some are different than others. They are all difficult because they chain us down in a place we don’t want to be. Sometimes though, our struggles can lead us and others to God.
I had a relationship with God since I was a young child. Actually, I accepted Christ around the same age that I started gaining weight. It was perfect timing because without God, I know I couldn’t fight this battle. Maybe the struggle started when I kept my nose in a book instead of playing outside and being active, or when I went back for a second helping because the food my mom cooked just tasted so good.
Perhaps the chains grew larger when other kids started poking fun at me because I was chubby. I began to cover my body more, refusing to change out in the sixth grade locker room without a shirt I kept on underneath my uniform. That was because some girls teased me about my fat rolls the first time I changed and I felt so ashamed, thinking if I could hide my body, they wouldn’t say anything anymore.
Later those chains grew to massive size when boys I liked did not like me back, and when someone who said he loved me ended up leaving me. I found comfort in food when I was upset. I found solace in doing nothing, just allowing my mind to turn to mush in front of the television while I chowed down on whatever food was available.
Then when I married my husband and was happy, convenience became a priority. Stress from work and being exhausted all the time drove me to pick up takeout or go out to eat instead of trying to plan ahead and cook anything healthy. Stuffing my feelings with a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream became normal. Instead of bringing my burdens to Jesus and finding rest, I turned to food.
I have prayed too many times to count for God to take away this struggle, for Him to make me healthy and slim and wake up in a perfect body. But obviously that hasn’t happened. Does that mean God doesn’t care? No! It’s because He still has something to teach me through this struggle. Even Paul prayed for God to take away the thorn in his side.
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT
So now I fight to break these chains with a new understanding and a new purpose. I believe God wants me to learn to come to Him when I’m weary. He wants to teach me that this struggle can turn me and others toward Him. He wants to show His power through my weakness. Obviously I can’t do it on my own. I have tried so many times and failed. But I can do it with the power of Christ in me!
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
With Christ, we can overcome those things that chain us down! We will have struggles in this world. But we can be encouraged because Jesus has overcome the world and He lives in us! We have the power of Christ to do anything.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NLT
“For I can do everything through Christ, Who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13 NLT
So even though I am not currently free of this struggle, I can press on knowing that even in the midst of being in chains, I can sing praise to God, trust in Him, and lean on His power to get me through. In Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas did that very thing while they were literally in chains in prison for preaching about Jesus! While they were singing…the other prisoners were listening. And something else miraculous happened…ALL of their chains fell off!
He can do that in our lives as well. So I hope and pray that as I praise God in the midst of my struggle, others will be able to hear from God and turn to Him in their lives. He is the only way we can overcome our struggles, and then the chains in all of our lives will fall.
(Other posts I’ve written on breaking the chains.)
Candice Hohenwald is a follower of Jesus, wife to an amazing man, and a mom so far to two fur-babies. She’s a lover of music, books, and anything vintage. She blogs at CoffeeWithCandice.com to encourage women in their faith, marriage, and self-love.
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