Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know God is the God of the impossible. He did the impossible in my mother’s life. He healed her from mental illness that wreaked havoc with her emotions. And because I had a front row seat to witness that transformation, I was able to allow Him to do the impossible in my life and help me lose over 250 pounds.

1956 black and white picture of white couple with baby son and 3-year-old daughter.

Dad holding Randy, Mom and me in front in 1956.

Praying for Mom

I know the two things don’t seem to go together at all, so let me explain a bit. From as far back as I can remember I prayed for my mother’s healing. While I was growing up, my mother had emotional issues that were difficult for me to understand. She had extreme anxiety that at one point morphed into agoraphobia.

She also had wide mood swings, from extreme highs to lows. So one minute she’d be dancing the jitterbug in the kitchen and the next she’d be in an angry rage or sitting almost comatose in the living room chair. The term I heard doctors use to describe this was manic depressive, similar to a bipolar diagnoses today.

For a child, navigating her moods was like walking through a forest of needles. I never knew when I’d step on something that would hurt me or her. Explosions were frequent. As a kid I never really understood why she was the way she was.

When I asked my dad about what was wrong with my mom, he told me she was “sick” but I knew she wasn’t sick like with the flu, measles or mumps. Her sickness was different from those.

She went to doctors, had been in psychiatric hospitals several times and was on medication, but Dad said that our only real hope for her to be healed was in Jesus. So from as early as I can remember I prayed for my mother to be well.

I kept praying for her, but it seemed her behaviors got worse instead of better. Of course, all of my extended family and any friends we had were all praying for her too. I believed God could heal here, but as a kid I just wished He’d hurry up and do it. Why was it taking so long? Was her case so difficult that even God couldn’t heal her?

Mom’s Healing

It was about three months into my freshman year at the university, which was 400 miles from where I lived. I answered the phone happy to hear my Dad’s voice. But this time he immediately said, “Your mother has some good news she wants to tell you.” This was unusual because my mother rarely talked on our phone calls.

“Jesus healed me!” She was so excited. I wasn’t sure I’d heard her right so I asked her to repeat it. She did. I had heard her right.

I was in shock. I wasn’t sure whether to believe her or not. Could this just be one of her manic phases? Then she began to tell me what happened. She explained that a woman she had known for 15 years called her out of blue. She said there was a full gospel businessman’s fellowship meeting at a location close to where Mom and Dad lived. She told her she would pick her up at 7 and take her.

Mom hadn’t been out of the house in months at this point. She, my dad and sister all went to the meeting. The man spoke on mental and emotional healing. After his message he said, “There are three people here tonight that God is going to touch and heal.”

My agoraphobic, anxious mother, who hated to be singled out in a crowd, stood. She told me it was like she could not stay seated. God just catapulted her out of her seat.

The man spoke to each of them separately and told of them something different. When he got to Mom, he said, “God is going to touch you tonight, but it’s not going to be an instant healing. He will start the process, but He requires something of you as well.

“You have been trying to fit the Word of God into your life. Instead, you need to fit your life into the Word of God. You can’t just search the Bible for a scripture that you can use to say you can do whatever it is you want to do. You have to read the Word of God and do what it tells you to. You fit your life into His Word, not the other way around.”

Hanging On To Jesus

I knew Mom had a tendency to try to use the Bible to her advantage and twisting the words around to give herself permission to do certain things. I said, “Mom so what are you going to do?”

She said, “I’m going to hang on to Jesus as tight as I can.” For the rest of her life, I watched her to do that. I watched her walk out her healing. The preacher was right. It wasn’t instantaneous, but she started having Bible study and prayer every morning with Dad. She went back to church with him, going to every service he did. She began taking up new hobbies, volunteering and helping several of her friends who also had mental health issues. She babysat for several babies and toddlers

I watched her work out her own salvation with fear and trembling. In Phil 2:12-13 TPT it says it this way. “Now you must continue to make this new life fully manifested as you live in the holy awe of God—which brings you trembling into His presence. God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to do what pleases Him”

That’s what I saw happen in my mother. She got so much better that when Dad got ordained, she was right there with him. Eventually he pastored a small church and she was right there with him. She saw the need for ministry to the kids. So, she developed and led their children’s church program.

When my son, our first born, arrived and I was working long hours at a local newspaper and my mother offered to babysit. I had no reservations. When I was growing up, if you had told me I would trust my mother to take care of one of my children I would have told you that you were crazy. It’s amazing what miracles God can do in a person’s life. I am so glad I had a front-row seat in her transformation.

Extreme Weight Gain

During all of this time, I had been steadily gaining weight and eventually gained up to 430 pounds. My mother saw I was gaining weight, but never said anything to me about it. However, I know both she and Dad prayed about my physical health.

When I finally got to the point where I hit rock bottom and understood that I was like an alcoholic only with sugar, I faced the issue of figuring out how to overcome my addiction. It felt like an impossible task. I knew there were alcoholics and drug addicts who had gotten free, but it was nearly impossible. Giving up sugar felt as difficult as that.

My addiction to sugar felt all consuming. Sugar was my everything. It was my companion, my friend, my protection, my provision, my comfort. After this all hit me and I faced walking out my journey, I wondered if I personally knew anyone who had faced impossible odds and come out the victor with God’s help. Then I thought about my mother. Overcoming her mental and emotional illness was impossible without God’s help.

Walking Out My Journey

Then I remembered what I’d asked my mother that night she told me what the preacher had said to her. I asked her, “How are you going to do that?” She said, “I’m going to hang on tight to Jesus as tight as I can.” That’s just what she did. So I figured if that’s what she did and if she could walk out her journey with God’s help, I could too.

So that’s just what I did.

God led me to a mentor who helped me learn how to change my habits and start on the road to recovery. Today, I’ve lost over 250 pounds and don’t eat processed sugar or flour.

It took me some time to get here, but let me tell you the beautiful benefit of knowing that every day I am walking hand in hand with Jesus outweighs any of the difficulties, trials and heartaches I’ve had getting here. Losing weight is just a by-product of getting closer to Him.

I Refuse to Go Back

To live any other way would mean that I have willfully chosen to put myself back in bondage to sugar and food addiction. Gal 5:1 TPT says it this way: “Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.”

I used to stubbornly refuse to give up the foods I loved. Those foods had become a stronghold that held me in bondage. Now I am indeed stubborn about approaching anything that even looks or smells like it is going to put me back in bondage.

The best thing is that now I am completely free to follow wherever Jesus leads me. The devil may come knocking at my door, he may try to capture me in his sly schemes but nothing tastes as good as the freedom that Christ brings. Nothing!

Psalm 119:45 TPT has become one of my watchword scriptures, “I will walk with you in complete freedom, for I seek to follow your every command.”

God did the impossible in my mother’s life and in mine. He showed us how to walk out our journeys with His grace and guidance. I know He can do the same for you no matter what bondage you are facing.

For more on this topic, check out the podcast here: https://www.teresashieldsparker.com/episode-33-hang-on-tight-to-jesus/.

If you need prayer for healing from what feels an impossible bondage, feel free to comment below or send me an email to: [email protected]

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.