amy patton

I ate my feelings and they were delicious!

amy patton
I ate my feelings and they were delicious!

Food. Let’s talk about food. If my relationship with food were Facebook official, our status would say “It’s complicated.” It has been the longest relationship of my life and definitely the most unhealthy (which is really saying something because I’ve been in some pretty jacked up relationships!). Food became my comforter and friend at a very early age. It was a safe place for a little girl with big feelings. And what a good friend! It never let me down, never left me and never failed to bring a few minutes of peace in the midst of the storm. Food never hurt me…unless you count those extra 50lb’s, but who really wants to talk about that?!?!?

Jesus does. At least to me. In this season of my life, He has asked for permission to shine a light in some dark places of my soul and I said “ok.”

The conversation went something like this:

God: food.

Me: #boo. Not that, God. I mean, I know it’s not the greatest, but aren’t there other things you wanna work on first? How about my marriage? My parenting? My quiet times? My leggings habit? Don’t you wanna start with one of those? We can ease our way into this whole food nonsense…

God: food has your heart so we must start there.

Me: game over.

We all live out of our brokenness and my wounds were still very much in charge. Food had become a band-aid to cover my fear and my insecurity. Those extra 50lb’s had become my protector from rejection and my insulation from intimacy.

I quickly realized this really was a much bigger issue than food. It was an issue of who is running my life. Are my hurts, habits and hangups running the show, or is it my good, good Father who calls the shots? The answer was pretty clear. I had believed the lie that He wasn’t big enough and I wasn’t good enough. And the only thing big enough to defeat a lie is the truth.

So, what is the truth? This:

I don’t need approval from men because I am fully loved.

I don’t need to fear rejection because I am fully accepted.

I don’t need to hold onto this extra weight to protect me because He is my protector.

My heavenly father says THAT is the truth. And while my feelings may shout to the contrary, they do not own me. As a wise woman once said, fight the feelings with the facts. So I started telling myself, out loud, the facts of what God says about me.  (PS. Wanna know something nutso?!?!? Our brain believes what we tell it. It DOES NOT matter whether it is true or not. Our subconscious has no judgement capabilities. It simply believes what it is told. Dr. Caroline Leaf has some amazing research on this topic if you wanna know more.)

So, I started talking to myself out loud throughout the day. Anytime I found myself in the middle of a thought, feeling or habit, I just started rattling off the list of things that were true. Maybe I sounded like a crazy person, but freedom ain’t free and I was willing to sacrifice any amount of pride it would cost me to heal the wounds of my heart and reprogram my mind.

Some days were easier than others. Then there were the days where I just had to look myself in the mirror and say “What’s it gonna be: brownies or Jesus?” There were days when this just didn’t FEEL like enough. I didn’t FEEL like I was getting anywhere or that anything was changing. I was so tempted to run to the nearest quick fix or healthy living program just to see some results. I desperately wanted some success to fall back on at the end of the hard days.  Gently, the Lord reminded me He was changing my heart. The rest would follow if I would just give Him space and do the work.

Life change is always an inside-out job. Any time we tackle issues of the heart from the outside-in, we end up frustrated, confused and disappointed. It doesn’t work. Treating the symptoms and ignoring the disease is short term thinking and produces no real change. I wanted freedom more than I wanted air. I wanted this battle to be over. So I invited Him in. Into my food. Into my feelings. Into my pain.

As I started feeling, I also started paying attention. I realized pretty quickly that food was losing most of its importance and was taking up much less mental and emotional real estate in my head than before. It very much felt like food had been the wizard, and someone just yanked back the curtain. It now appeared small and wimpy and almost inconsequential. That doesn’t mean that menus at restaurants didn’t still freak me out, but I would just take a minute to put things into perspective before placing my order.

Sounds simple, right?!?! #notsomuch.

The problem with this whole program is that it doesn’t negate the pain. Pain doesn’t just go away on its own. It gets stored on the inside and there is only one way out. We must feel it. But pain can be productive if we let it. If we allow it to rise to the surface, we usually find an opportunity for greater freedom waiting there. And Jesus. He’s there too. Because He loves your guts. Because He bought your freedom on the cross and He wants you to get everything He paid for.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Cor 3:17

Freedom isn’t a destination. It is a person and in His presence, we find what we are looking for. He’s waiting to come sit with us in the pain. He’s ready and willing to be Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals the wounds of our heart and gives us more of Him in exchange.