Whole30, idols, and Jesus

My name is Matt and I’m a stress eater. 

Over the summer, I began preaching a series on the Ten Commandments at the church I have the privilege of pastoring; Grace Life Church in Lake Asbury, FL. It has been an enjoyable series to preach through, mainly, because we get a beautiful picture of grace. In a brief synopsis, the law shows our sin and shows our need for Jesus. Where we can’t keep the law, Jesus fulfilled it. And because of what Christ has done in our lives, we are now free to live in obedience; having a desire to follow his commands. Paul says in Romans 7:7,

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

I’m not sure if it was Commandment one (have no other gods before Me) or Commandment two (do not make any carved images) when the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I have a problem. The problem: food. Not just eating a lot of it, but that food had become an idol in my life.

My wife has said to me over the years, “You’re really good at losing the same twenty pounds”. And she’s right. I’ll lose weight, maybe start exercising, but then before I knew it, that weight came back. What I hadn’t realized and what the Holy Spirit had to teach me was that food for me was an idol. It had become my god. It had become what I relied on when I was stressed out. I’m a stress eater.

The best definition of “stress eating” or “emotional eating” I found here

Emotional eating is turning to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward rather than to satisfy hunger. Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about.”

More than being a bad eater and consuming sodas at a very unhealthy rate, food and drink had become my god. I loved it. It was always good. Being a church planter is stressful and the only thing that never let me down (or so I thought) was food and Dr. Pepper. But it never satisfied. It never quenched what was going on in my heart. The more I ate, the more miserable I felt. I turned to ice cream of a bag of chips instead of the goodness of Jesus.

There is nothing evil about food. God made it and He made it good! (I mean, who doesn’t love a good taco!) But God told us in Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before” and we know anything can become a god. We can easily place our focus off of the Creator and onto His creation. What I’ve learned about the other gods in my life and in the lives of others is that they are crummy. They never lead to the satisfaction that we find in Jesus. I knew the moment the Spirit convicted me of this idol, repentance, confession, and help was what I needed. 

About this time, my wife told me she was going to start Whole30 at the beginning of August. As she read to me pages from the book, I knew I needed to hop on board. So on August 1st, we committed to 30 days of not dieting, but changing our lifestyle when it came to eating and drinking. We gave up sugar, dairy, processed foods, grain, and stuck with eating food that wasn’t always delicious, but it gave us the nutrients we needed. 

The first 10 days were exhausting, frustrating, and extremely difficult. Headaches, cramping, and hunger pains were the norm. I had a close call and almost passed out. I couldn’t stay up past 9pm; and if you know me, you know after midnight is my bedtime. I think the real kicker came on night one, when sitting down at the table for dinner, my chair completely collapsed.

Great way to kickoff eating healthy.

Towards the end of the month, I really started seeing results. Thinner waist, sleeping much better, not so hungry, and more energy were just some of the things I noticed. I even developed a taste for bananas and now I want one every morning. Towards the end of August, Julie and I joined the YMCA to begin working out. The Whole30 experience was outstanding. I tried to be as compliant as possible and in the process, I lost 20 pounds and feel comfortable wearing a large shirt. 

But it wasn’t the Whole30 that changed me. It was Jesus. The change in my diet didn’t change the issue. That’s behavior change. What changed was my heart. I’ve rested in the goodness of Jesus, knowing only he can satisfy my heart. As the Psalmist declares in Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

When it comes down to it, the Gospel is powerful enough to overcome any idols in our life; even if it’s a large waffle fry and a large Coke from Chick-fil-a. When we are overwhelmed and stressed out, we must look to Jesus and take refuge in Him. His shoulders are big enough to carry the cares of our heart (see 1 Peter 5:7). Nothing else that this world has to offer will bring joy and satisfaction like Jesus. 

I’m thankful for the grace of food but I’m more thankful for the grace of the Gospel. I’d rather have more of God than more food or anything else for that matter.

My name is Matt and I’m a stress eater no longer a slave to food.


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