I like control. I really do. Being in control of the numbers on the scale and on the tags of my jeans, as well as the food I chose to eat or not eat, creates a false sense of security for me. It puts my mind at ease when everything checks out just right. That is, until I find something else—like finances or how clean my house is—to fixate on.
As I have been leaning into God and allowing Him to heal the broken parts of my past, especially with body image, I am realizing more and more my tendency to control when I feel unsafe. I grew up in a chaotic world filled with divorce, dysfunction, and lots of mess. My childhood coping mechanism was to control my behavior because I had no control over anything else. I wanted the big people in my life to make me feel secure, and when they didn’t, I tried to find that security in controlling myself; my little mind searching for consistency and order.
Funny thing is, I still use this coping mechanism today….
I have a hard talk about the past with my father, and the next morning I am on the scale checking my weight. My husband has to go out of town for a long period of time, and that afternoon I find myself at Ikea buying matching hangers to reorganize my closet. I check my banking app to find money is tighter than I thought, so I sit at my computer and clean out my inbox.
When life feels uncertain in one area, I find safety in controlling another.
The same rings true with diets. Diets are so often a way of eating that makes us feel safe, but just like every other grapple with control, we will fail. We were never meant to be in control, and the sooner we figure out that it is an illusion, the sooner we can find freedom in the One who really is in control.
You see, when we are afraid, we are believing that whatever we are facing is out of God’s reach. We have somehow managed to get into a place where He cannot go, and we are left there alone to create our own safe haven. There is nothing more untrue. He sees everything, and nothing is too small or silly. He sees you when you are fighting to find refuge by controlling your life, and He is patiently waiting for you to lie down and surrender!!!
Oh the beauty of surrender. There is beauty in not carrying the burden yourself. When it comes to trying to gain control through dieting, one thing to keep in mind is that any kind of restriction will almost always lead to bingeing and reckless eating. The Bible talks about being disciplined and self-controlled, and we need that, but it also talks about grace. You will ultimately fail your diet plan at some point because you are human, and then shame and frustration will follow. But what if grace was built into your plan? No more specified “cheat” days, because you cannot always predict when you will need to deviate from the plan. Think about those unexpected dinner dates or a birthday celebration at work. Do you always have to participate? No, but sometimes you want to, and if you are so ridged with your plan, you will ultimately feel like a failure.
There is a difference between walking in grace and walking under the law. The Old and New Testament are a great example of this. Jesus died so you no longer have to live under the law, and you can find grace and freedom in walking side by side with Him. Christ knew you wouldn’t be able to do this on your own, so let Him walk this out with you. When you feel scared and unsafe because you think you have messed up somehow with your diet or some area of your life, instead of reaching for control in another area or deciding on some new plan, try sitting with Jesus for a minute or two. Ask Him to help you understand the freedom of not having to be in control, and ask Him what He wants you to do. And then give yourself some grace, sweet girl!
Life is hard and broken. Trying to find safety in control is a miserable and tiresome place to live. Praise God we don’t have to stay there!!!
I will talk more about control in later blog posts, but I wanted to throw these thoughts out there because sometimes recognizing the source of our behavior is the first step towards healing.