Patti’s Story – Overcoming Obesity Through a Christian Weight Loss Program
Patti’s Story – In her own words
(Be sure to watch her video on the second slide above)
My true identity based on grace & strength… Jesus said, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person…what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” What was coming out of my heart a year ago was bitterness, anger, resentment, and a deep discontentment. This heart condition manifested itself in fear of failure, shame, and comforting myself with the temporal things of this world, such as material possessions, worldly success, and especially food. I had learned to use food for comfort at a very young age – stuffing negative emotions as deep as I could in response to a childhood where love was overshadowed by pain and disappointment. In order to cope, I learned to numb the pain with food, which only gave momentary relief and left me with the consequences of obesity. I felt controlled by my weight. I felt powerless to fight its control over my life. I felt physically, mentally, and emotionally at the mercy of its influence. At a very young age, through adulthood, even after my rebirth as a child of God, I suffered from the bonds of obesity. For almost 3 decades, practically my whole life, I felt controlled by my weight and my failure to overcome this issue in my life. My identity became that of “failure” – I was a failure at living this life. I felt like I was merely surviving each day, sitting on the sidelines of life, at the mercy of my circumstances, unable to change; a failure to me, my family, even my God.
It all came to a head about a year and a half ago at my church’s annual women’s retreat. The focus was on experiencing the full redemption of Christ in our lives – to experience abundant life. The leaders had us do an exercise where we looked at ourselves in a mirror. Their hope was that we would be confronted with how we really viewed ourselves in contrast to how God looks at us, which is as beloved daughters. As I sobbed, unable to even look at myself for more than a moment, I realized something was terribly wrong. I realized that the way I looked at myself was not congruent to how my Lord looked at me. I knew something needed to change, but was at a loss of where to start. I had been seeing the Grace and Strength Lifestyle advertised on Facebook, but at the same time was seeing an advertisement for gastric bypass surgery at the hospital I worked at. I was desperate for change, but I was torn at which way to go. It took me a year of the Lord preparing my heart through the counsel of my brothers and sisters-in-Christ, being in the word, and prayer, before I finally took a leap of faith and reached out for help. In retrospect, that leap of faith has required sacrifice, trust, humbling myself, being vulnerable, and dying to self. But it started with two things: trust and obedience. I knew that the way I had been living was not working for me. I could see from the testimonials that I read for a year, that this ministry had seemed to have found something that worked. So, I said I was going to surrender to their process, and trust and obey.
The weight started melting off as soon as I started! It was amazing and encouraging. But, this program was different in one huge way…they pushed being in the word of God. So, since I was being obedient and exercising discipline with my eating, I thought maybe for the first time in my life, I could apply that to my spiritual life as well. I started reading the Bible on a more regular basis, listening to sermons by podcast, and spending time with the Lord in prayer. Needless to say, this is where the magic happened! And this is what this program is all about. Being in the word, prayer, and being in relationship with the body of Christ, my mind began to be renewed. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I had been living a life for a long time with a mind that was conformed to this word. I did not give my life to Christ until I was twenty. After my salvation, I struggled with trust issues that had developed from spiritual abuse, having grown up in a legalistic church culture; living through mental illness in my family; and suffering from dysfunctional grieving over injustices done to my loved ones and the untimely death of several friends at a young age. These trust issues lead me to isolate myself from the church, relationships with my brothers & sisters-in-Christ, and eventually my Lord. I grew dull of hearing, as Hebrews 5:11 says, and could not discern good from evil.
I was a baby Christian, that although over nourished physically, was severely malnourished spiritually. I had to be reminded that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Yes, I must eat to live, to survive, and yes, I can even enjoy eating. Genesis 2:9 says, The LORD God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground–trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. But the word of God is what gives me life and life abundant through Jesus Christ, not the temporal comforts of this world. I was living out of balance. By being confronted with God’s divine truth, the lies that I had been believing for so long started to be challenged. I realized my identity of “failure,” was based on total lies. With my mind being conformed to this world, I had based my value and self worth off of worldly standards; that I must meet certain standards to measure up and that I must have certain others approval to feel good about myself. I believed that when I failed I deserved to be punished and I lost my right to be loved. I believed I deserved to live in shame over my failure, even though the Bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). When I would inevitably fail, because no matter how perfect I tried to be, I was human and couldn’t be perfect; and let’s face it, people are fickle, so I could not please everyone all of the time either; when this failure happened my value and self-worth went out the window. I was living a life unsure of my foundation, and felt I was living on shifting sands. And, again, I comforted myself with food. I remember thinking things like, “Well, if I can never measure up, if I can’t have what I think I need to fulfill me, I might as well enjoy what I can. We are all gonna die anyways. You have to die of something. And I know where I am going, so what does it matter.” Well, it didn’t matter for my salvation, and my assurance of my destiny in eternity with my Lord, but it did and does matter for my quality of life here on earth.
I was living a defeated life, and that defeat was keeping me captive. It was keeping me from embracing my purpose of glorifying God in all that I do; and of embracing the process of sanctification, of growing up in Christ. I was living discontent, unfulfilled, and settling for lesser things. That defeated life and identity of failure that I was living was completely incongruent to the life that the Bible says I have in Christ. Romans 8:37 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” But I was not living a life based on the victory that I already possessed because of the loving sacrifice of my Lord. Ephesians 1 speaks of the riches we have in Christ, and because of Christ, and this is what it says our identities are in him, and they are far from an identity of “failure”: we are the chosen, the blessed, the beloved, the freed, the redeemed, the forgiven, the holy and blameless, the slave freed from bondage to sin, the adopted sons and daughters of the creator of the universe, bought by the blood of the lamb, sealed and secured by the Holy Spirit, which is the promise of the inheritance that awaits us in glory for all eternity. That is who I am. That is who you are if you are a believer in Christ. And, on top of that, you were made in the very image of him who created you. You have value and worth. I have value and worth. And no matter what I do, what others do to me, or what circumstances this fallen world throws my way, my foundation on the rock of ages is sure, is secure, and is for evermore. That is where the shifting sands turn to a firm foundation y’all. This is where I will choose to live my life from; from a place of victory – the victory I have in Christ. Knowing this empowers me to live the life I want to live, to define who I want to be.
My daddy has always said, “We don’t find ourselves, we define ourselves. Define who you want to be, and be it.” Well, I want to be a bold, confident, humble, compassionate, empathetic, persevering soldier for Christ; who is dependent on him for my power, my strength, and my provision. I want to live a balanced, at peace regardless of my circumstances, life that allows me to serve him with all I have – body, mind, and soul. But hear this, I did not lose the weight and find myself. I defined myself and lost the weight. And simultaneously, I defined I wanted to be a disciple of Christ, one that is willing to lay down her life for that calling, and I now know the power that is within me, the purpose to which I was called, and the plan I have been so graciously made a part of. That inspires me to live an intentional life of power and purpose; to glorify Him in all that I do. To live a life of grace and strength. I have come to know what I believe Jesus meant when he said he came that we would have life, and life abundant. Yes, It means resurrection from our state as spiritually dead to alive in him; and it means eternal life glorified with him that I can’t even fathom; but I believe it also means a life of peace, assurance, and confidence in him for the here and now. And that knowledge empowers me to change, to grow, to transform, to be conformed, to live, and to die – to do all things. I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).