Today I’m supposed to be blogging about spiritual battle, but I feel like I need to go in a different direction this morning. My post yesterday came as a surprise to me. If you had told me a year ago– six months ago– that I would willingly be writing about my food struggles in my blog I would have either laughed in your face or turned away and cried. I had absolutely no idea that I even could write with honesty about that deep battle of my heart until I did it yesterday morning. Make no mistake; this is all grace.
Every morning I sit here with the cursor blinking at me and I pray that God will guide my words. I don’t want to write from my own agenda or to ever come across as a know-it-all who has it all together. My prayer is that God will be glorified in these words, and that these words will be only what He desires them to be. Yesterday morning when I sat down here, God had something to teach me as I wrote. He taught me that I have experienced much more healing in the area of food than I had realized.
For two years, this struggle has been like an open wound in my heart. It was the area I shielded the most from the eyes of others. Because some people can’t understand the idea of food as a spiritual battle. Because it was so deep, so personal, so shameful and difficult, that I couldn’t bear the idea of anyone knowing it was happening. Because I was afraid that if people saw or knew what was really happening in my heart, they would lose respect for me, for my God. I was afraid I would hurt my husband’s ministry in our church, damage my own reputation. I felt so desperate and out of control in my cravings and in my continual falling into the same sin again and again.
God never stopped working in me. While I don’t believe that He ever wanted me to sin, I believe He allowed me to stumble again and again until I realized I needed Him only. My reliance on myself and on my pride had to go. It took a lot of falling down for that to start happening. And much of the process was horribly messy, painful, and humiliating. So I didn’t share it. What would they think of me? I couldn’t handle the idea of anyone knowing the deep painful place in my life– this sensitive spot where I was constantly falling prey to the arrows of an enemy who never shows mercy.
But yesterday– yesterday I wrote about it and I did so without fear. And I did so without feeling like I was exposing an open wound. And that is all grace. All the work of God. I hadn’t even realized how much real healing had taken place until I hit “publish” and didn’t feel all shaky and scared inside. He has brought healing to my wounded heart.
Why am I sharing this? Truthfully there are a few reasons. First of all, if you are struggling with a similar sin, I want you to know that there is hope for you. Keep getting up and fighting the battle again. Even if you fall every day for six months in a row, there is still hope. God promises forgiveness as we confess our sins. Keep turning back to Him. Bind your heart to Him. Step out in faith-filled obedience and plead with Him to change your heart. He will. He can. He wants to.
Second, I want to share that one of the things that has really made a huge difference for me in this journey– is still making a huge difference– is accountability. Back in October, when God really stripped away a lot of what was blinding me and holding me captive, one of the things He impressed on my heart was that I needed someone to hold me accountable. I had tried accountability partners before, with little success. Because when I fell off the wagon I would quit responding to their inquiries. Mature, yes? I am blessed with a sister who has been exactly what I need. She won’t leave me alone. She asks nearly every day how things are going, and she encourages me when I’m struggling. She doesn’t make excuses for me when I fall, but at the same time she doesn’t berate me. She has been a blessing beyond description, and her prayers and her texts have been a lifesaver to me, truly.
Accountability can be hard because it exposes that open wound to another person. Choose wisely. Find someone who loves you and loves Jesus and who won’t take excuses but who also won’t cause more trauma to that broken place in you. Pray about it and ask for wisdom. Listen to the leading of the Spirit.
Third, I want to talk for a bit about transparency. Because I don’t think that we as believers can have any kind of real testimony before the world without honesty. And I don’t think we can be encouraging one another, spurring one another on to love and good works, without honesty. We have allowed our churches to become places where people don’t feel safe to be transparent. We have put on this pretty outward veneer without ever showing a lost and dying world that we have desperate need as well. We allow hurting people into our churches and they come in and feel alone in their hurt, their doubt, their struggle, because no one has ever dared to be honest with them that we are all struggling, doubting, hurting.
What this world needs– what our fellow believers need– is to see God at work in our lives, and how are they ever going to see that if we aren’t willing to be honest about the places where God needs to work? Why should “refreshing honesty” be so unusual among God’s people? We say we have the answers to what this world needs, but we refuse to let anyone actually see God in our questions, our problems.
You know what, friends? We are fooling nobody. They know we have problems. All we are doing is stealing from them the opportunity to see the answers– God at work within us.
I’m not saying we all need to be airing our dirty laundry all over the place. As God has worked in my life in the area of food, He has restrained me from blogging about it until I was ready. First I had just a few people I felt like I could talk with honestly– my sister, my mom, my husband. Then He gave me opportunities to share with some trusted friends in my church. And now– now He gives me freedom to write about it. In fact, He asks me to write about it, to share this story, and promises to give me strength for the new temptations that will undoubtedly arise as I speak publicly about my struggles.
There is somebody who needs to know your story. God works in our weaknesses. If we hide our weaknesses, we are blocking His ability to be greatly magnified in our lives.
This year of opening is teaching me to trust God as my Protector. He is the shield about me; and I don’t need to shield myself by eating, by refusing to share my struggles, by putting on a show of Good-Little-Christian-Girl-Pastor’s-Wife-Ness. He is a far better shield than I could ever be anyway.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Let’s step into the light, my friends. Let’s let the Light of the world shine through all our broken places.
Because this world needs the Light so very, very badly.