You told yourself you were just going to have one bite of the leftover birthday cake and you end up eating half of it.
You only wanted one bite of the cookie dough ice cream and suddenly the entire container is empty.
You were only going to munch on a few Doritos and now your hand has reached the bottom of the bag.
You wanted one spoonful of Nutella and now, well, I think we get the picture.
After one of these episodes, the guilt, the shame, the embarrassment is almost too much to take; for me, I had several years of my life where I felt like my relationship with food was one ridden with guilt and shame, constantly facing my own self-deprecation and ridicule after overdoing it once again on something not so healthy.
And for me, when there was guilt and lack of control, I felt a need for punishment- three hours in the gym (how did I have time for that?!), no more sugar for the rest of the week, 200 calories for dinner.
Throughout college and my early twenties, or really until I really dug in to eating clean and going primarily Paleo circa 2014, this cycle of losing control-shame-punishment was just apart of my life. And it’s not a joyous way of going about life either.
Maybe you put yourself through a similar cycle with something else. But today I want to remind you that this punishment is not necessary. The guilt is not necessary. After all, no matter how badly you think you have messed up, be it with food or at work or with a relationship, the punishment has already been paid on your behalf, our behalf.
We have a God that has already forgiven us, so it’s time we start forgiving ourselves.
As I’ve divulged to y’all before, I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with food.
From accidentally undereating through most of high school reaching sub-100 pounds my Freshman year of college to gaining 20 pounds my Sophomore year of college to enduring several more years of a hate-love-shame-control spiral with food, it’s taken me loads of self-education on nutrition, patience, acceptance, and forgiveness for myself to get to the beet salad-eating, green smoothie-making, donut-resistant state that I am in today.
Luckily through my years of confusion and misunderstanding with food and eating, I never developed truly harmful habits to my body. Through God’s strength and perseverance, I have been able to break the cycle of my food shaming.
But does that mean that I feel totally free of shame and guilt in other areas of my life? (insert my laugh out loud) Alas, no, not quite, but it has gotten much better.
So many of us live under the weight of shame without always even realizing it because we have been so conditioned by our culture to always be successful, have it all together, and, on top of it all, be in impeccable shape (women especially).
At the end of the day, it’s all too easy to start feeling inadequate as a wife, coworker, teacher, or female with such high standards of perfection around me in the media.
It’s all too easy to feel like I’m not enough. That I don’t do enough. That I didn’t work as hard as I could have that day.
Luckily, in spite of the gripping nature shame can take over us, we don’t have to let it ruin or control our lives; as Christians, Jesus has already transformed us, renewed us, restored us from filthy, shameful shades to something beautiful, sparkling, and enrobed in His joy.
We don’t have an authoritarian Father that operates on a punishment-guilt economy. We are already forgiven for all of our wrongs- past, present and future.
By like any good Father, ours is one that continues to discipline us, to grow us into better versions of ourselves. Eugene Peterson expresses it in Hebrews 12 as this: Don’t feel sorry for yourself…God is education you; that’s why you must never drop out…God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely.
Our God isn’t a smiting, “Sinner’s in the Hands of an Angry God” (shout out to Webb School of Knoxville 10th grade English…whoop whoop) kind of Father. He sees the patterns and habits in our lives that are destructive and finds ways to help us through them, like any good teacher or parent.
For example, for about 8 weeks this winter, my husband up and moved to D.C. to pursue a once in a lifetime experience working on the inaugural transition team. Did I want him to leave me for nearly two months of my second and third trimester? Heck no; he’s my best friend and I thoroughly enjoy his presence in my life every day. However, in his absence, God used that time of discomfort to disciple me, to open my eyes to how dependent I had become on my husband as a source of contentment, comfort, and joy in my life. That time of absence was not a punishment; it was a wonderful thing for both of us. However, God used it to grow my dependence upon Him and adjust my perspective on joy.
Just as God views us with a sense of disciple, wanting us to be the best versions of ourselves, we should do the same with our own healthy habits. When you ‘fall off the wagon’ with those leftover Valentine’s candies, don’t take on an attitude of self-humiliation and ridicule, rather look for constructive ways to prevent the problem in the future.
Remember, we all still have to deal with shame, but in Jesus shame no longer has us.
Today’s Challenge: Once again, I have a song for y’all to check out and really meditate on today and this week. It’s one of my ABSOLUTE favorite Christian songs that I love to play during cool down during my Zumba classes to remind my students that God is doing and making beautiful things within each and everyone of us. Take a few minutes and listen to Gungor's "Beautiful Things" and really reflect on how God sees and makes beauty in you.
Today’s Prayer: Father, Abba, I praise you because You see me as I truly am; blameless, pure, clean, forgiven, beautiful. Because of Your wondrous love, I have no more shame, I have no more guilt, and I have no punishment. Through Your strength and power, I can overcome the shame and guilt that still weighs me down and tries to separate me from Your love. You’ve already sacrificed and paid for me on the cross. Open my heart to Your discipline, that You may teach and grow me to be better. Help me to understand and accept that Your actions are always what is best for me. I thank You for Your grace, forgiveness, and being my Abba. Amen.
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!