There is a door marked FEAR deep in your heart somewhere. The disposition of that door affects everything you do. Is it open? Or is it closed?
For many years I would have told you I was not afraid of anything. I prided myself on my courage.
I could take care of myself. I didn’t need anyone or anything else to take care of me. I am woman, hear me roar and all that!
Yet, fear drove me to do certain things and approach my life certain ways.
It was a deep, ingrained fear I had learned from childhood.
From experience with certain boys and men I learned I had to protect the feminine side of me. I learned this early from those wanting to do exploratory research.
These unwelcome advances set up a kind of paralyzing fear of certain kinds of men. Somewhere in my life I learned that those who were larger than normal usually didn’t attract such attention.
My conscious rational mind said, “You need to lose weight.” My subconscious emotional part said, “You need to protect yourself. No one else is going to. You need to.”
Our mind is supposed to govern our emotions, which govern our behavior. We then lose weight because it is the rational thing to do. However, I believe there was also a subconscious part of my mind that agreed with my emotions.
The fears set up when I was 6, 11, 13, 16 and 17 governed my behaviors. Even after I fell in love with a caring, loving man, who was not like the men masquerading as exploratory surgeons, I still couldn’t shake the fears that I really didn’t even understand were governing me.
It wasn’t until much later that I began understanding some of the reasons I was able to withstand the emotional, spiritual and physical pain associated with extreme weight gain.
I hadn’t forgiven my childhood tormenters.
When sexual abuse of any degree happens to a child, they think it is their fault. It doesn’t matter what happened, they feel they are to blame.
In my case, I felt I had no one I could tell. The very first incident happened when I was young, 6 or 7. A boy in the neighborhood was playing doctor. My brother who was about 3 at the time was stationed as lookout.
When my dad called us for supper, my brother came and got us and saw what was happening. He ran to tell my dad who joked about it at dinner and forbade me to play with my brother and the older boy any more.
I learned from that incident not to tell. It seemed I got punished for something the other boy did. I didn’t see it for what it was, my father protecting me.
When it happened to an even greater extent with a man who was the friend of the family. I felt I couldn’t tell for several reasons.
First my mother was not well emotionally and my father was consumed with helping her.
Second, my grandmother had her best friends visiting and it was her friend’s husband who molested me. I didn’t want my grandmother to choose her friend over me.
So, I decided I would protect myself by not being there alone when they were there. I stayed away from him as much as I could.
But as I got older, the staying away didn’t work so well. The fears continued to rise.
However, miraculously God connected me with a wonderful man who was someone totally unlike the bad guys I had met up until then.
After marriage, though, my fears of other men attempting to do something to me tormented me. Gaining weight seemed to mitigate my fears, but it confused my brain.
Do I want to lose weight or not? I knew I could and would for a while, but then I would gain it back.
I knew I was a grown woman. I knew I could protect myself, but the kid in me hadn’t learned that yet. And it was the emotional child that governed my weight loss, and weight gain behaviors.
I know now part of the issue was an addiction to sugar. However, my fears did drive that addiction to the point that I gained 430 pounds.
Forgiving all those involved in those scenarios helped. I didn’t go to them and find them. I just said, I chose to forgive and named each one and said what I forgave them for.
When I forgave each one, it was if God came in and swooped me up in His embrace. I heard Him speak to me softly in my mind and tell me I am His daughter, the apple of His eye, His beloved, whom He will always protect.
I can’t say this magically helped me lose weight. However, it did free me to close the door of fear regarding certain types of men.
It helped to remember the Bible tells us that perfect love casts out fear.1
As one door closes another reveals itself. But I don’t have time for that today. Maybe I’ll share that later this week.
What door of fear is open in your life? Are you ready to let that fear go by forgiving those responsible?
1 1 John 4:18
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.