I love to read, and don’t read fiction very often. So it’s normally non-fiction (the “self-help” kind) that I read, usually with a pen or highlighter in hand, and so I leave my mark on those books. The good ones also leave their mark on me.
“Think Differently Live Differently” by Bob Hamp is no exception. I began to read it with great enthusiasm and with an unconscious expectation that my life would be changed as a result of me “doing” the things it said and secretly, I longed to be forever free from the effects of compulsive overeating, namely being “fat.” In other words, I’d finally lose weight – for good this time.
This issue in my life (compulsive overeating) is what had been the catalyst of me asking Bob for counseling years ago, before the book was ever written. I had attended one of the Freedom classes called “Overcoming Life Patterns” and knew that I needed more help than what I had received in class. That began a series of life-giving encounters with God through Bob and with the people involved with Freedom Ministries at Gateway Church. So when I heard that he was writing a book, it was obviously something that I looked forward to with great anticipation. I promoted the book before it was even published. And then after it was published, and before I had a chance to read it myself, I gave it away as gifts to people that I love and care about.
Then I started reading it for myself. I even volunteered to lead an online book study and began with great enthusiasm…until I got to chapter 8. On page 153, in big bold letters was the word “FOOD” and then a story is told about a woman who had some of the same issues I was facing. I highlighted a few things on that page, the last highlighted words being, “… (I held up my Bible), but there is real food in here.” Somehow, after reading and highlighting that sentence, I became too busy to continue this journey. I found reasons to avoid reading any further – all of them very “legitimate.”
All that changed this morning when I found myself in a quiet house, and decided to spend some of my quiet time with God. It had been months since I’d picked up the book. With the clarity that hindsight provides, I can see now that I was afraid of reading any further and being disappointed. I didn’t want to be given a list of things to do, and find myself, again, having failed to do what I needed to do to be forever free from compulsive overeating. Since I was about eleven or twelve, I have used food to comfort myself and to ease the feelings of anxiety that remain all too familiar to me to this day. I know in my head that I am trying to fill a hole in my heart left by the devastating effects of my childhood and even some of the events of my grown up years – a hole that no amount of food can possible fill.
As I read, and as I began talking to God using the suggested prayers, and I quieted myself and began listening to God talk to me, one of the core lies that I have believed was, again, revealed:
“There is never enough.”
This is the same lie that was exposed many, many moons ago in my personal counseling with Joy over a period of about five years. Her words to me at the time the lie was exposed were, “Look for God’s Abundance.” I have done so in many ways and had experienced a measure of relief from the effects of the lie. So today, again, I am faced with the lie as it is exposed, along and its destructive effects on my soul. As I allowed God to talk to me, and to speak His truths into my heart once again, I was reminded of what I had learned before: “There is always more than enough.” With Him as my Source, there is always more than enough. In His Storehouse, there is an abundance of everything I could ever possibly need or desire. It’s only when I try to provide for my own needs, and use my own limited and unreliable resources (food) as my source of comfort and as a means of easing the anxiety that grips my heart when I look into the future and imagine going without (whether later that day, or in the coming winter, or in retirement), that I get all tangled up in the web of lies. The truth is, that I had more than enough food yesterday, I have more than enough food today, and will continue to have more than enough food tomorrow, and next week, and this winter, and on into my retirement. When I really think about it, how else could I eat “too much” if there wasn’t more than enough all around me?
So I’ve learned that freedom is not the absence of compulsive overeating. Freedom isn’t losing the excess weight and keeping it off. Freedom isn’t finally being skinny again.
As Bob says in the last paragraph of the last chapter, “Freedom is not about doing good things and avoiding bad things. Freedom is not a matter of removing every last obstacle. Freedom is when you live life as the person you were created and restored to be. It is the unashamed response to the flame that leaps in your heart when you are near your destiny and your Destiny draws near to you. Without doing a thing, becoming who you are can change those around you and will eventually be a part of God making all things new.”
Restoration and redemption have been a recurring theme in my life. Over and over, God has provided more than enough. Even as I have stumbled my way around these truths over the years, and learned things, only to have to learn them again, I have watched the lives of my friends and family, and even strangers, change and be changed as a result of me being who I was created and restored to be. There is so much more of “God making all things new” that is desperately needed in the lives of the people that I love and care about and carry a burden for. It’s a relief that I don’t need to do anything and that I only need to be the person that God created, redeemed and is in the process of restoring me to be.