One minute, I was sitting in the green metal lawn chair in my uncle's front yard, talking and laughing with my aunt while cousins and our children played hide and go seek.
The next minute I felt the collapse of the rounded legs as they slowly lowered me to the ground.
The World Holds Its Breath
Even though I'm sure the sight of a 430-pound woman sitting atop a pile of metal was funny, all laughter stopped. The world held its collective breath as my uncle jumped up to help me.
Being super morbidly obese, I always tried to blend into the wallpaper and not make more of a spectacle of myself than I already was.
This day, the proverbial cat was let out of the bag. I was fat, really fat. I broke lawn chairs like twigs. I couldn't be trusted to sit anywhere.
My uncle brought me a sturdy dining room chair, which I eyed suspiciously. My aunt patted my arm and told me it was fine. She never liked that old chair anyway.
I was embarrassed and ashamed for the rest of the day. I didn't dare eat the three platefuls I would have normally eaten at lunch. I took only one piece of cake, though I'd love to have piled my plate with the four other desserts as well.
I knew I had a problem. I denied it constantly. I tried to push my shame and guilt under the rug, but this day, I could not ignore the obvious.
I was a really good Christian. I had never tasted an alcoholic beverage except that one time a "friend" put a little vodka in my orange juice just so I couldn't say I'd never drank alcohol before. I had never done drugs, smoked cigarettes, had sex before marriage, gone to an X-rated movie, or watched or listened to pornography. I went to church every Sunday. I taught Sunday school and small groups. I worked in ministry. And I was a glutton.
Pastors don't talk about such things because they like their sweets and breads as much as I did. Mine was the acceptable sin I didn't have to worry about.
Until I began to break chairs, and the cardiac surgeon told me my body was too big for my heart, and I would be dead in five years if I didn't lose a minimum of 100 pounds and keep it off.
God's Plan for Me
This was my life 20 years ago. Today, I've lost more than 250 pounds.
For years when I would pray about my weight issue, God would give me a plan. Stop eating sugar. Eat more lean meat, vegetables and fruit. Stop eating so much bread.
I could never get past step one. I thought I would die without sugar. Truth is, I was dying with sugar.
The light-bulb moment came when I was listening to a former alcoholic tell his story. He mentioned that alcohol is liquid sugar. Then it hit me: If an alcoholic can get free by not drinking alcohol, maybe I can get free by not eating sugar.
All my life I had wished my problem was alcohol instead of food. My reasoning was an alcoholic could stop drinking alcohol because it is not necessary to survival. However, I can't stop eating because I have to eat to survive.
I Am A Sugar Addict
Understanding that processed sugar is my enemy gave me the final motivation to follow what God had been telling me for 30 years. So I did. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was a sugar addict. There wasn't a question in my mind.
There also was not a question as to whether this was God's direction. As I looked back through my journals, I saw the same plan. God had given it to me at least five times in three decades. I had heard God. I just hadn't followed Him.
When I began to walk out what I knew was His plan, I felt His wind at my back propelling me forward to health and wholeness. It's from this place I can minister. It's from this place I can complete my assignment here on earth. It's from this place I can live.
Although I have had situations where I have strayed, they are short-lived, and I always come back to what I know is right for me.
In this place of obedience, there is freedom, real freedom. It's not just flowery words. It is real honest-to-goodness, I-feel-it-down-in the-tips-of-my-toes freedom.
When I go to a family gathering today, I am not pulled toward the desserts. I eat fruit, vegetables, salad and meat. I make sure there are those choices because I bring them myself. Honestly, processed sugar is not something I want to eat today.
Overeating is a sin when we do it in direct rebellion to what God is leading us to do. It enslaves the same as any other lifestyle that is contrary to His best for us here on earth.
There was no greater sugar addict than I was. I never thought I could give it up. By myself I couldn't, but with God's help and the help of a coach and a group I was able to step into and discover real freedom from my addiction.
It's the reason I write articles and books, deliver podcasts, speak and coach. My message is simple: Jesus brings freedom when we follow Him completely. There is nothing that tastes as good as the freedom that Christ brings. Nothing.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of five books and two study guides, including her latest, Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy, and her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. She is also a blogger, spiritual weight loss coach (check out her coaching group, Overcomers Academy) and speaker at TeresaShieldsParker.com. Check out her new podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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