It's the season for temptations, especially for a sugar and comfort food addict like me. However, I never thought of holiday foods as temptations. I thought of them as part of a happy season.
I mean what's Christmas without stockings filled with candy, sugar cookies or hot chocolate?
I thought of the tempting foods like Grandma's pecan pie, oatmeal cake, hot rolls, baked macaroni and cheese casserole, homemade chicken noodle soup, real green beans cooked with a slab of bacon, mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey and marshmallow salad—which is filled with sugar and was the only salad I ever ate—as family traditions.
They weren't temptations because I looked forward to eating my fill of everything. It was true not just of Christmas but every holiday, family birthday and family reunion. We loved getting together, and delicious food was front and center.
Fattening Foods Were My Legacy
It's no wonder, then, that by the time I was 40, I had gained up to 430 pounds. I had fixed for my family all the fattening foods my Grandma had fed me. It was my way of passing down the family legacy, the family history.
Yet, when a doctor told me I'd be dead in five years from congestive heart failure if I didn't lose weight and keep it off, I finally began to face the truth. I had given into temptation so easily that it had become my lifestyle.
When I'd go to a church potluck dinner and see all the delicious high-calorie desserts and other foods there, I didn't see that as temptation. When I'd notice that someone brought real fruit salad, a nice green salad and slices of baked turkey, I didn't see that as God providing a way of escape from temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). I just thought those people were crazy. Who would eat that when there were all these other yummy foods?
Losing Weight While Eating Cookies?
I first realized I had an issue with food when I was a dirt-poor college student. I was gaining weight and didn't have money to buy larger clothes. I wanted to lose weight and couldn't figure out how to stop eating the foods I loved.
Why was I so tempted to make cookies and eat the entire batch? Sure it was because Grandma fed me those, but where does the desire to continue to eat when I want to lose weight come from?
I was reading through the Bible when a verse sprang off the page, jumped in my heart and brought me an answer to my question. "Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death" (James 1:14-15, NLT).
I read further and James 4 confirmed that all my problems stem from the evil desires that war within me. I wish I could say that stopped me and made me change my ways. However, I still didn't know what to do with the cravings that drove me to eat whatever I wanted and ignored any of the ways of escapes God provided.
In Food I Trust?
It wasn't until years later I was able to understand that I wasn't trusting in God; I was trusting in food to get me through any crisis or moment of discomfort. Like Philippians 3:18-20 tells me, my god was my stomach, and my mind was set on earthly things.
Understanding that began to help me put God in His rightful place and learn to surrender to what He desires for me rather than what I want. My desires will always lead me down a treacherous path. I finally understood that the only way to walk out my journey was to surrender completely to God and commit to do what He tells me to do.
In the process, I've lost 250 pounds. I love living closer and closer every day to my Maker. And Christmas? Yeah, for Christmas dinner, I will chose wisely. Likely, it will be turkey, real fruit salad with pecans, green beans and lots of time to enjoy those I love.
This article originally appeared on teresashieldsparker.com.
Tune into Sweet Grace for Your Journey with Teresa Shields Parker, including this episode titled Unexpected Temptation, on the Charisma Podcast Network.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of six books and two study guides, including her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. Her sixth book, Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds, is available for preorder. She blogs at teresashieldsparker.com. She is also a Christian weight loss coach (check out her coaching group at Overcomers Academy) and speaker. Don't miss her podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, available on CPN.
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