Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness—We all want it. We all crave it and yet why is it that few actually seem to attain it even though it is the American dream—the one where we have it all and deny ourselves nothing?

photo copy 2As children most of us equate life with carefree days of having fun, running, playing, enjoying living in the moment. When we get older life seems to close in on us.

What was once enjoyable now becomes the drudgery of everyday living and figuring out how to pay the next bill.

Some days it seems so overwhelming we wonder why live at all. And so we escape into something, anything that will take us away from reality. We use television, pornography, gambling, food, alcohol, drugs, anything to dull the pain of the reality of adult responsibility.

The entire concept of liberty or freedom flies out the window when we seem chained to realities of the every day grind.  Escaping into unhealthy pursuits sets us free for a short time until we need another dose of fantasy land. Before we know it, we are chained to the thing we were using to set us free.

This pursuit of happiness mantra starts early. Some had wonderful carefree childhoods. Because of my mother’s illness and the fact I was the oldest child, responsibility started early for me. I didn’t learn how to play. I was too busy playing the role of mother, one no eight-year-old should have to assume.

As a teen and young adult, my pursuit of happiness turned to going to college, getting a degree and starting my career. Eventually that morphed to falling in love, getting married and having children.

I found all of these to be wonderful pieces of the puzzle called happiness, but none of them equal true happiness. I had accepted Jesus as age seven. I knew He was and is the answer to my every need.

Somehow, though, I still felt a very vast void in my life. I filled this cavity with food. For years, eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it equaled a type of happiness. In reality, though, it just made me more unhappy.

It’s only been in the last few years that I have really discovered what happiness and true joy is all about. For me, it began when I totally surrendered every desire I had to God’s care.

I learned early that food would assuage any immediate need I had. I always held food as my ace in the hole. If God didn’t come through for me, food would. But food is only a short-term fix and one with long-term problematic medical side effects.

I craved anything with processed sugar and wheat flour in any form. Everything I ate had a combination of these. Even meat and vegetables were breaded, fried and slathered with gravy, sauce and/or cheese. At 430 pounds these foods were quickly becoming the death of me.

Finally, there was a time when I drew a line in the sand and said, “I want to live.” To live, though, I had to take to do the hard thing, the thing I’d been avoiding all my life. I had to deny myself what I saw as one of life’s few enjoyments—eating sugar and bread.

I knew my first step was giving up my trigger food, which was candy, sugar in a concentrated form. When I was obedient to doing that, it was like I flipped a switch. The power of God propelled me forward in amazing ways.

At 260 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight, I am just starting to understand what life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is all about.

It doesn’t have to do with clinging so tightly to my way and what I want. It has to do with giving up what I want in the moment for all the great things the future holds.

It gave a totally new meaning to Jesus’ statement. “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”1

It’s definitely not about the American dream of not denying myself anything. But it is all about God’s dream for my life. It is about surrendering everything in order to have His very best.

I really want to share my story with you. My memoir, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor, will be available on Oct. 23. In the meantime, feel free to download the preview chapter FREE. If you like, you may pre-order the book. As soon as it comes in you will receive it. Hopefully this will be prior to the release date. All pre-orders will be personally autographed. I’m so excited for you to read the book. FYI, I will throw in a free pdf copy and that will certainly be available prior to launch date. Just click on the box on the right side of the web site.

1Matthew 16:24-25, NLT

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.