God Enabled Me to Heal from Compulsive Overeating

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God Enabled Me to Heal from Compulsive Overeating

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I awaken to see the clock blinking. The power must have gone out sometime during the night. I get out of bed, wondering if it is early morning or late night in my world. The clock in the living room reads 4:30, definitely too early for my morning. But I cannot sleep, as the cares of the past months rush into my mind. I go to the kitchen and pick out an orange and an apple. It's never been too early or late to snack in my world. It's what you do when troubled, if you are a compulsive overeater.

Well, not today. I set the fruit down on the counter for a later time and go to my prayer chair. That's where I talk to my Father, especially when I have trouble sleeping. I have made many such choices in the past year. Do I commune with my Higher Power, or do I open the refrigerator door and make it my higher power?

I can't have it both ways. Either I turn to so-called comfort food when I need comforting, or I go to my Comforter. There's always that choice to make.

I sit in my chair and look out on the view from the picture window. Snow has fallen overnight. I have always loved snow since the first time my mittened little hands dove into the fresh snow cover, my fingers curling, pressing the magical fluff into a ball. If I love snow at 57, I reckon I always will. It covers the trash barrels put out by the road last night. It covers the patch of weeds in the garden I left in the fall; it hides that smashed fast-food cup by the side of the road. The blanket of snow reminds me of my Savior's love and all His love has done for me. It has me covered and, although my sins were as scarlet, I am white as the new snow in His eyes. And my world is new, like the snowscape I see from my window. What a miracle that I, a sinner, could be righteous in His sight.

With the Lord's help, I have lost quite a few pounds of body weight in these last months, in spite of the stress our family continues to undergo. Not through a diet or eating from small plates. Or eating grapefruit. Or through willpower.

To the contrary, I had to admit that none of these methods are adequate for me, because I am wired with an addictive personality. Over and over, instead of feeling the pain, I chose to eat over "it," whatever "it" was. Only my drug of choice is legal, cheap, widely accepted and even promoted in the media. "Nothing says lovin' like somethin' from the oven," right?

Last June, I returned to my commitment to the overeater's counterpart to Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps. During self-examination, I came to see my eating compulsion—eating over problems—living to eat and not eating to live—was more than unhealthy physically. It could be fatal spiritually when examined alongside the Ten Commandments. If I were bowing down to, submitting to a substance that was harming me and was not healthy by any stretch of the imagination, how could I say in all honesty I was worshipping my Creator and Sustainer alone? I could not do that at this time and place in my spiritual journey.

Right now, I ask God for another day of abstinence, which in the program means abstaining from compulsive overeating and from my trigger food, just for today. In working the steps, I have found a daily reprieve from the food obsession based on maintaining a fit spiritual condition, to paraphrase the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is so beautiful—the same program that lifts the drug addict or hopeless alcoholic from the bottom of the barrel can do so for people suffering from all sorts of compulsive, obsessive behaviors. I turn my will over to Him, and ask that His will be done in my life today. I commit to three meals a day and a healthful bedtime snack, with a life of loving and serving in between.

With thanks, I choose the apple and leave the orange for lunch. I eat my whole-grain cereal with milk. I think about my sponsor, whom it is still too early to call. She's a German Baptist lady, who reminds me of a little Carolina wren with her bright brown eyes and humble look. She has years of abstaining from compulsive overeating and much wisdom to share with me.

It's still dark outside. And no one else is stirring. I remain troubled, waiting for God's answers to come. I could turn on the light and read my Bible or 12-step literature.

A slogan I heard at a meeting comes to mind: "Do the next right thing." It seems right to sit here in the shadows, waiting for morning, for answers. A hymn comes to mind. My singing voice could be called pitiful at best, yet I believe God can appreciate my vocal sacrifice, much as He did the widow's mite.

There are those times, and this is one of them, when the house is quiet and answers to serious matters seem far away—and as always, the food is calling—that the best thing for me to do is to sing a hymn. I gain strength as I use this time to draw close to God.