I'm often asked to tell about my weight loss journey. Tomorrow night, I will speak to a nearby TOPS group doing just that. I wrote the true story of God's beginning to heal me, Janet K. Brown. I give it here in my favorite medium, the short story form.
Janet’s pulse thundered in her ears when she walked into the church classroom. She took a seat near the back and spoke to no one. The pastor’s wife entered and spoke to everyone but Janet. Resentment settled on her shoulders and lodged in her brain to be hidden by poor-pathetic-me thoughts.
Sweat formed on her upper lip like a glossy mustache. While ducking her head, she stole glimpses of others in the class.
Sister Stack’s wrinkled hand reached for Janet. “Here we go again.”
Janet flashed her warmest smile. That sweet older lady was an inspiration. If she could keep trying, someone half her age could do so. “I need help.”
The older lady winked. “Don’t we all?”
“We can do it this time.” Janet’s voice shook though she tried to summon confidence.
Pleasse God, help me. I can't take the pain anymore.
One of the pastors on their church staff shuffled to the two-foot square podium. His rolls of fat protruded from both sides as he opened a book and his Bible and cleared his throat.
If he could stand before them looking like that, Janet could hold her head high and listen. She breathed in a deep gulp of air, and her pulse slowed.
Pastor Williams spoke softly. “If you’ve struggled with weight and will power, but overate anyway, if you’ve prayed for God to take away your appetite, but He didn’t, if you’d give anything not to be here, but you are, I’m here to say, give up.”
Every eye gawked at the teacher, while each mouth dropped.
Bless Sister Stack’s heart, she had the nerve to ask the question no one else could formulate. “Are you saying for us to give up and stay fat?”
The handsome minister gave them a wide “I’m-so-glad-you-asked grin. “No, I’m saying you….” He paused to look around the room. “All of us, are powerless over food. Using your will power is like adding fuel to your overeating fire. The more you use it, the stronger wrong desires become. Only surrendering to God and His will can bring emotional healing forever.”
He read 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness….”
The rest of the meeting blurred. Janet’s mind reran a video of past failures. Surrender her desire for food to God. What did that mean?
The class dismissed. Few spoke as they filed out of the room. Perhaps, others replayed similar defeats. Janet waved at Sister Stack.
She drove to the store and bought a package of Reese’s peanut butter candy.
A boy from church called out “Fat Mama” as she left. She’d show him fat. Anger vied with embarrassment. She popped one of treats into her mouth.
When anxiety subsided, she examined the remaining candies. Did surrendering to God mean she should give up Reese’s?
She loved Reese’s.
As she finished the last of the candies, recrimination gorged her mind as the sweets did her stomach. You pitiful excuse for a human being. No wonder no one likes you. Her stomach tightened. Nausea threatened to divulge its contents.
Janet had never felt weaker. All the nutritional education, all the encouragement, and all the past failures, nothing kept her from overeating. She remembered Pastor Williams’ words. A fire ignited. All summer, she’d stayed with firm resolve on a doctor’s strict diet, but when she fell, she rolled into the gutter and lay there like a stuck bowling bowl.
Lord, You could help me, if You would.
From the trash, the empty candy package mocked her. Was she willing to surrender if it meant giving up her Reese’s? Her resentments? Forever?
Tuesday night came. Her week of overeating condemned her, but, she needed to go to the meeting.
Sister Stack hugged her. “I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been praying for you this week.”
Tears stung Janet’s eyes. She blinked them away. “I needed it. That’s probably what got me here.”
Pastor Williams overheard as he passed. “Whatever it takes, God stands willing and able to handle our problems when we’re ready to give them up to Him.”
Janet could no longer hold back tears. Her hand shook as she helped her older friend to a chair. “Let’s sit in front. I think I’m ready.”
Two years and ninety-five pounds lighter, Janet stood before her own class of overweight friends. Her hips didn’t bulge beyond the podium. Her spine straightened as God gave her confidence. Her words took on power as she spoke.
“If you’ve struggled with weight and will power, but overate anyway, if you’ve prayed for God to take away your appetite, but He didn’t, if you’d give anything not to be here, but you are, I’m here to say, give up.”