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Why I'm Thankful for My Body

(Even after a lifetime of failed diets)

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Dear Body,

We've been at war for a long time, haven't we? Almost 50 years and counting by my latest reckoning. It frightens me that I can't remember a time when we weren't on the outs with each other. Is that why all the various eating approaches I've tried over those years never could deliver the unbearable lightness of being that I wanted you to become? Atkins, lots of those meal-replacement chocolate bars and cookies advertised in Seventeen, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Fit for Life, South Beach, all-protein, low carb, no carb, low-fat, the naturopathic plan, the 5-Day Miracle Diet, Dr. Ornish, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and so on. With all the diet and fitness books and videos I've read, reviewed, watched, and whimpered through, I should have had a graduate degree in food psychology and nutrition!

We've been at war for a long time, haven't we?

I thought food would prove itself the ultimate weapon: targeted and therefore accurate to a fault, able to destroy without any collateral damage. But you knew something way back then that I've only just found out: You have never been my enemy and there's a risk with using food as a weapon—it turns on you.

My dysfunctional beliefs were actually my enemy. I didn't really believe that the Lord was (and is) my shepherd and therefore I am taken care of. I couldn't live out the truth of Romans 8:38, which tells me that nothing separates me from God's love. Too many years of wondering where God had been when life hurt had calcified my belief that I needed to do what it seemed God couldn't or wouldn't do. I needed to set my ailing parents on a steady retirement course, pain-free and financially sound. I needed to take care of, maybe even heal, my handicapped siblings. I needed to help my husband find his next job so I wouldn't have to remain the steady breadwinner. I needed to shower grace and mercy on in-laws who held me in contempt. Where was God when it mattered? I wondered, as I shouldered those burdens.

I never realized that perhaps a deeper emotional struggle was underlying my weight battles until the day I decided to actually answer Jesus' question: "What do you want me to do for you?" This is the question he asked Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, but it's also a question he asks each of us. That day, with clarity, I answered that question with no shame, guilt or self-judgment: I want to believe again. I want to believe that God knows what he's doing; that justice will flow like rivers and righteousness like a never-failing stream. I want to believe that Christ was and always will be enough. War requires two sides and I laid down my weapon that day. And body, you felt different—almost immediately.

Renee James

Renee James is a regular contributor for TCW, Leadership Journal, and the Gifted for Leadership blog. She lives in Toronto, Canada, and is the communications director for Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec. She blogs infrequently at ReneeJames.org.

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Why I'm Thankful for My Body