Let’s be real.

Change is hard because it means doing something that is unfamiliar. We like familiarity, and we like efficiency. In fact, our brains are trained to work as efficiently as possible, which means they use familiar patterns of behavior that have proven to be the quickest ways to achieve a particular task. This means that when we want to change a pattern or habit in our lives we have to teach our brains new ways to be efficient. But that’s easier said than done. It requires a lot of work on our part because we have to go through a period of discomfort while we adjust to a new way of thinking and acting, in order to create a new habit. And new habits can take a long time to “stick” in our brains because they require consistency over a sustained period of time.

I’ve been struggling with my own ability to change current patterns in my life a lot lately. Every day I wake up with the desire to stop binge eating. But every night I seem to end the day frustrated, hopeless, filled with shame and guilt, and defeated because I failed to stop bingeing even for one day. Sometimes I think I’ll never be able to stop. It seems harder to change old habits than it does to keep doing what’s comfortable and familiar. And it gets harder and harder every day I binge because I get further and further from where I want to be, and all I can think about is how long that road is to get to where I want to be physically and mentally.

There are a million things that get in my way of being successful when it comes to not bingeing. And you know where most of those things stem from? They stem from selfishness. I want to look a certain way, and when I wake up feeling defeated from the months and months of persistent bingeing I know I am nowhere close to looking that way. I worry way too much about what other people think of me. Sometimes I fear what people will think of me so much that I don’t want to leave the house. I think of reasons I can use to stay home from family events, dinners with friends, and even running errands or going on walks with my family. I’m worried somebody will see me and the facade I’ve put on will all come crumbling down.

See, the binge eating makes us look at ourselves way too much. We think that this life is about us; our happiness and how we look. We lie to the world (family and friends included) by never truly letting people in on the hard parts of our lives. Sure, we share the best parts. I love to post pictures when I look put together and you can’t really tell I’ve gained weight, or pictures of my husband laughing with our son. But would I post a picture of me in tears after a week where I binged every single day, swollen and bloated from all the food I stuffed inside me to escape my feelings? Heck no. And I’m not saying we need to post those kinds of pictures. We just need to do a better job of allowing others to carry our burdens, pray for us, and encourage us. But in order to do that we need to get real; with ourselves and those we love.

Too many of us suffer alone because we are too afraid of what people will really think of us if they know our secrets. I know that’s true for me. For years I have struggled with bingeing, and only a handful of my closest friends and family know. But even then, only a few people really know what this secret life of binge eating really looks like. Why? Because I fear what people will think of me because of this struggle. We hide away from life and people because it’s easier to act like we have everything under control. But the deeper we get into the binge eating, the harder it gets to conceal. And the more depressed and desolate we begin to feel. It’s a trap.

For me, food gives me relief and allows me to escape anxieties and fears that come up throughout my day. But bingeing is the biggest sham ever. If it were a corporation it would be put out of business because of fraud and deceit. But it survives because we believe the lies it tells us. Every single time I get the urge to binge, all I can remember is how it calmed me down the last time I felt stressed. I completely forget that terrible moment that happens the second I stop bingeing when I’m flooded with shame, guilt, anger, sadness, and despair because of what I just did. Yeah my problems went away… for about 30 minutes as I ate. But as soon as I’m done bingeing, everything I was feeling anxious about before the binge seems so minor. It’s like I’m suddenly able to understand why I was feeling anxious enough to binge in the first place. And the most frustrating part is the seemingly sudden realization of all the things I could have done to free myself of those anxious thoughts because they weren’t as bad as I made them out to be originally. But now they are coupled with the huge weight of hopelessness that every binge inevitably leads to, making the pit of despair I live in when I’m bingeing even deeper.

What kind of life is this? One I want to run from. One that has me feeling so miserable that I make life miserable for those around me. I take away from fun moments with my family because all I’m focused on is the negativity surrounding me. Of course I’m continuing to binge. I’m looking at things all wrong. My husband is a pro at reminding me to look at the positive things in our life. He is truly one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. But it’s not because he doesn’t have bad days or worries of his own. Trust me, he has things he can stress over. He is a hard working man who comes home from a long day with a lot of things on his mind. But he doesn’t dwell on the negative aspects of his day. He comes home and focuses on the good things. He plays with our son and laughs with him as he chases him around the living room. He looks forward to seeing his family. And he knows that the only way I am ever going to be free from this bingeing is if I follow suit and focus on the good things in our life; the blessings, the positive parts of our days, and on God who is the ultimate definition of good.

I think it’s important to put an honest first step forward as I work to overcome the bingeing in my life. I hope to make this a place where I can be open and honest about the daily struggle of choosing freedom from bingeing, while adding some refreshing insight into the successes and failures I encounter along the way. It’s going to take a lot of days of giving this struggle over to God and learning to trust that He is in control. But I hope to shed light on what this journey looks like for me. I want to sing my way through this storm because I believe that God is going to do some major change on my heart as I draw closer to Him.

 

 

 

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Free to be

You are free to be. Free to be you. Free to be fit. Free to be happy, healthy, and loved. You are free to start living the life you dream of, and free to change the life you are in. But in order to be free, you have to declare freedom in your life. You have to take the plunge, and allow yourself to be free. Freedom is a gift we have already been given. We were given freedom when Jesus was crucified on the cross. He died for our sins so that we didn’t have to live a life enslaved to them. He died to set us free! But in order to live out our God-given right to be free, we have to decide we want it more than the life of enslavement.

When we get comfortable living in bondage (enslaved to the very thing we want to be free from) we become miserable. We are mean, angry, harsh, unloving, unkind, selfish, and blind to freedom. I have been living in that life for far too long. Some days I declare freedom and other days I give in to the comforts of my sin and forget about my declaration. Every day is a battle for freedom, and we can’t forget that.

I don’t know what you’re looking to be free from, but I want you to know that freedom is possible. It is possible right now, for you, in the midst of whatever battle you are fighting. Do you need freedom from a bad habit? Shame? Guilt? A life-enslaving sin? Hopelessness? Hurt? Heartbreak? You can have it. You already do! You just need to grasp your freedom and decide that you’re not letting go. No matter what the cost. The cost of freedom may seem scary, hard, and uncomfortable. And it will be at first. But the more you choose freedom, the easier it gets. And let me tell you, the cost of enslavement is so much worse. And it gets worse every single time we forget that we are free and run back to our old habits and beliefs.

I want to get practical here and share some ways you can start living out this freedom in your life. So I put together a few ways we can live free and hit the refresh button in our lives starting today.

  1. Believe you are free
    In order to be free, you have to believe that freedom is not only obtainable, but that you are worthy of it. It’s so easy to get in your own way with the lies that you tell yourself. “You’re not good enough.” “You don’t deserve to be free.” “You won’t ever change.” But we have to stop listening to those lies. We have to dwell on truth and believe it!
    Do this: pick a Bible verse, song, or quote that helps you to understand that you are worthy of freedom and make that your anthem as you begin your journey to freedom. Memorize it, dwell on it, and say it over and over to yourself every single day. You need this truth to be louder than the lies you have been telling yourself. Those lies will always hold you back from freedom.
    Here’s a verse I love from Romans 6:14 (NLT)
    Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
  2. Declare freedom
    Once you believe that you are free, you have to decide once and for all that you are going to live it out. You will never stay free if you don’t decide to be free. Freedom is a choice that God gives us. He won’t make you live free, but He makes it pretty clear that living life free is a far better than living life enslaved. He will fight this battle for you if you decide that living free is far better than the life you’ve been living. Nobody else can decide this for you. This needs to be a declaration you make for yourself, one that you commit to.
    Do this: Write down all things you can look forward to when you are free. Now, write down all the things you have given up and missed out on because you aren’t living free. Now, commit to yourself, God, your spouse, a friend, a counselor, or any other person you can count on in this journey that you are going to live free from whatever has kept you in bondage. Be honest with them if you are feeling vulnerable and unable to keep your word, and ask them to help you to choose this freedom every day. We all need people to help pick us up when we fall, and trust me we have our work cut out for us on this journey. This declaration doesn’t mean we will never fail, it just means we will stay committed to the process of declaring freedom every single day.
  3. Don’t turn back
    Like I just said, this journey is going to be full of trials and defeats. It’s probably going to be a long, tough road to freedom. But every day that we are successful and leave behind our old life, we become stronger and more equipped for the next day. We have to remember that where we started was a pit of despair and hopelessness, but where we are going is a life full of joy, hope, and freedom.
    Do this: Every time you are tempted to turn back to your old ways because they seem easier, more comfortable, or feel like the only way you are going to survive whatever hurt, hardship, or feeling of despair that comes into your mind, stop and pray. Pray for a renewed mind. Pray that God would take your anxiety about this journey, and pray that he would give you peace and strength to fight the urge to turn away from freedom. God is bigger than every battle we face. Battles of the flesh and of the mind. He knows our thoughts before we think them. And He wants us to run to Him with the negative thoughts and anxieties, and take them captive.
  4. Choose freedom
    Again, freedom is a choice. You’re going to have to make this choice a million times before you get to the end of the road. You’re going to have to wake up every single morning and choose to be free, and then every hour you’re going to have to continue to choose freedom. It’s going to be really hard at first. It’s going to be easier to just turn back to your own ways of thinking and acting. But you have to just keep deciding that freedom is worth it. You have to continuously remind yourself of your declaration to be free, and go through your list of reasons why freedom is so much better than bondage.
    Do this: When you come to the point where choosing freedom seems too hard or overwhelming, call someone you can trust. Call the person you committed your freedom to. Tell that person that you are being tempted to turn away from freedom. Tell them that you need support, and help them to remind you why you started this journey. I would also let them know your verse, song, or quote that you are memorizing and replaying in your head so that they can remind you of it when you need it. Simply talking to someone and letting yourself hear what it is you are experiencing in the moments when you are struggling to continue forward can be enough to get you through that wave of doubt.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)