Is comfort important to us? Do we really need it? Or is it just something we think we need? Where or how do we find it if and when we do need it?
After working with God to tear down many of the mental strongholds which led me to become a sugar addict, surrendering my addiction to God and following what He showed me to do, I began losing weight.
I was finally headed in the right direction and the weight was staying off. I felt good about myself for the first time in a very long time. No longer were sugar, desserts and comfort foods ruling my life. It was such a welcome relief.
Then, I hit a brick wall. It came out of nowhere. I tried everything to fix it, but nothing was working.
What Am I Doing Wrong?
I was at the 200-pound mark and I so wanted to go into onederland. I had been steadily losing weight, but when I would see 199 I would panic. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
I was exercising. I was eating all the right things and none of the wrong things, but I just couldn’t stay at 199. The next day I’d be back to 200 and I would feel myself internally breathe a sigh of relief.
It felt a lot like the Romans 7:19 conundrum. “The good I want to do I don’t do. The very wrong I don’t want to do, I do.”
I understood there was something there, but I could not figure out what was holding me back. I thought maybe I am at a plateau? Maybe I’m eating too little and my body thinks it’s in starvation mode? Maybe I’m eating too much and I need to cut back? Maybe I need to add more vegetables?
I tried many things but nothing worked.
I shared this at the meeting of my peers and mentor. The members all gave me input, but nothing was registering.
Then as he had a habit of doing, my mentor asked me a question which at first seemed totally unrelated to what I had just shared.
“Where did you learn your relationship with food?” The question invaded my mind.
Not for a second did I wonder whether or not I had a relationship with food. I knew I did, and I knew I learned it from my loving Grandma, who fed us with every kind of food we wanted including every type of dessert. We could eat as much as we wanted whenever we wanted it.
I preferred her more lavish food style to my mother’s three balanced meals with fruit for dessert version. What kid wouldn’t want to be able to eat as much dessert as they wanted any time they wanted?
I equated the kind of foods Grandma prepared with comfort and love. When I was away from her and felt overwhelmed, sad, angry, lonely, fearful, worried, stressed or just plain old frustrated, I would make something Grandma would have made and eat that.
It was my comfort food. It would comfort me for a while until the sugar-high wore off. Then, I needed more to get the same feeling. Still, fresh-baked oatmeal cookies always seemed to wrap me in Grandma’s arms even if she wasn’t there.
Emotion Versus Truth
In reality, this way of coping wasn’t comforting at all. It was very discomforting. It had caused me to gain weight and then struggle through learning how to lose weight. Now, those same thoughts of comfort were threatening to ruin my healthy living journey.
To not eat or cook those foods felt like I would be abandoning my culture and dishonoring Grandma. It took me a while to process what was happening in my head and in my heart.
To believe Grandma’s foods, which were my favorites, had been harming me, saddened me. I knew she didn’t aim to hurt me. She fed me out of love. However, the little girl in me was emotionally attached to those comfort foods, which I equated to extreme love.
While the adult me knew I couldn’t eat all of those foods in the quantities I had consumed them in the past and be healthy, the emotional part of me was still stuck back baking cookies with Grandma.
All of a sudden God revealed the truth to me. Grandma’s cooking was the wall. Grandma wasn’t the barrier, but her cooking was. I had equated the two. They had become enmeshed in my heart. Could I separate them? Could I still hold a place in my heart for Grandma if I turned my back on the things she cooked?
I couldn’t imagine never again having hot rolls, chocolate pie, brownies, Mamaw’s oatmeal cake or myriads of other special dishes.
The emotional wall of cultural foods was vivid in my mind. They emanated from Grandma’s kitchen. After sharing what I had discovered, my mentor asked, “What would your grandmother say to you if she knew certain foods were causing you to ruin your health?”
I knew she would tell me to give them up. Many times she would say to me, “Honey, you would feel so much better if you would lose some weight.” However, about five minutes later, she would say, “I baked a batch of oatmeal cookies. They’re in the cabinet. Eat as many as you want.” The second message always drowned out the first.
I clearly saw the disconnect between these two statements. I also realized she never saw it. She was a large woman, but never as large as I had gotten. She ate what she needed, but she also worked hard. It never once crossed her mind that certain foods could be addictive.
During the group meeting, I let those foods go and I embraced more of what my mother had been trying to teach me. Part of me didn’t want to agree she had been trying to teach me a better way than Grandma. Grandma was my person. Mom was just someone who had problems for most of my growing up years. Clearly, though, it was true. Mom had a better way.
I forgave myself for not learning the lessons of limited, practical balanced meals my mother had been trying to teach me. I said a prayer of thanks for how she tried to take care of us.
I forgave Grandma. This was hard. She was my person. The adult me understood, though, that I could not go forward and reach any of my goals without conquering this issue. The little girl me was still hanging on to those wonderful feelings of love and comfort.
Now that Grandma was gone it seemed the only part left of her was those comfort foods, but they would kill me if I went back to them. I had to work with the Holy Spirit to conquer this difficulty.
What Is Comfort?
Comfort is not an overfull feeling, which leads to damaging my body. It is a peace like only the Holy Spirit, who is the only true Comforter, can bring into my life. It’s the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ within me, who gives me the strength I need to overcome my difficulties.
“I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it means to lack and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty,” (Philippians 4:11-13 TPT).
That strength is His Spirit within us. When we rely on Him to comfort us, to teach us what to do and how to go forward our lives will fall into place.
This incident showed me how heavy emotional baggage really is. I had already given up eating processed sugar. But this was a final severing of my emotional ties with the foods I loved. Within a month I had dropped another five pounds and moved toward losing the rest of the weight I wanted to lose and then working at keeping it off.
Emotional traumas, lies and false mindsets do add weight to our bodies and not just in the form of eating too much. My body actually wants to hold on to weight at certain times until I am able to work through whatever is going on.
We must allow God to help us identify and break the strongholds that wreak havoc in our bodies even though we have allowed them to be set up in our lives.
My all-new Breaking Strongholds course will go into a lot more detail about this. For more information listen to this week’s podcast, episode 46, What Is Comfort? Go HERE.