Wouldn’t it be nice if Jesus just walked through your front door, sat down with you over a good ol’ cup of joe, and went through every single thing you were supposed to do for the rest of your life? I admit I’ve wanted this. “Lord, if you would just tell me exactly what I need to do everything would be so much easier!” It would be nice, but this just isn’t how our Lord works.
One of the biggest fears I have faced (along with many of my clients) is the fear of getting things wrong. This fear is often rooted in perfectionism. It feels safer to make sure you’re doing everything right. However, the paradox here is that perfectionism usually leads to poor outcomes, hyper-vigilance, procrastination, hyper-fixation, and idolization. You want to do the Lord’s will SO badly, that you end up paralyzed by fear and confusion. Brene Brown describes perfectionism…dare I say perfectly: “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”
The fear of getting it wrong is usually rooted in old wounds and past diet culture beliefs, and it often shows up in my clients’ intuitive eating journey. I would be lying if I said this fear hasn’t reared its ugly head MANY times in my own life. If you want to learn more about my story and how I worked through this fear, CLICK HERE.
However, in this blog, I want to speak specifically on the fear of getting it wrong on your health journey. Like many women, you likely started your health journey from a place of fear – fear of failure, fear of poor health, fear of judgment, the list could go on. Instead of working through the lies within fear, you likely chose a worldly solution that gave you a temporary sense of control. Control is safety’s counterfeit. You will never hold enough control to feel completely safe. You think you feel safe when you feel in complete control. The problem is, only God is in complete control. Often, your grasping for control is a sign of distrust in God. It is the lie of the fall: that what God has already offered you is not enough, so you must grasp for more and take things into your own hands. One can even visualize Eve literally grasping for the fruit and taking it into her own hands. Control, then, is rooted in pride. And pride is a hungry monster that must be constantly fed. No amount of control ever makes you feel truly safe and at peace.
You keep hopping from diet to diet to diet, all in an attempt to gain control. You think if you can just do enough research and muster up enough self-control, then you will finally be healthy, except self-control rooted in worldly desires is just pride. Even atheists practice self-control for self’s sake. You think, “If I can just control my macros perfectly, my sugar intake perfectly, my water perfectly…if I can cut out the right foods, do the perfect workouts, have the best “self-care” routine, then I will finally feel happy and healthy.” You spend hours researching the newest fads and trends on how to find health and happiness. But with all the ever-changing and conflicting advice, you spiral into a place of confusion and hyper-fixation. A client of mine once described this spiral as “mental torment.” I’d say so. Anything that keeps you constantly distracted and fixated on worldly desires (even good desires like health) rather than God himself would be mental torment. This level of attachment and hyper-vigilance is most certainly an idol that leaves you more fearful, more ashamed, and more confused. This is bondage. “You are slaves to the one you obey.” -Romans 6:16. How hard are you working to obey diet culture in order to attain some sense of worth?
When we operate from a place of fear, perfectionism, and idolization, we are not operating from a place of freedom. If you think you are following Christ by going on that diet, but you feel like you are in bondage to the diet, then you are not following Christ. You have simply become a slave to the diet. Worse yet, if your sense of worth increases or decreases depending on how well you follow the diet’s rules, then that diet is now your God. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” -Galatian 5:1.
Finding freedom is why many of my clients begin a faith-based intuitive eating journey. Recognizing that health, diet, and body have become idols is WHY my clients seek my help. Intuitive eating teaches you how to build attunement with the body God gave you from a place of LOVE rather than shame. However, here is the hard truth: If you do not recognize your identity in Christ Jesus, then even intuitive eating will soon become your master, your idol, and your god.
However, in order to find freedom, you must recognize your freedom to choose. When you are constantly hungry or restricting food, you are not free to choose. Your thoughts will be dominated by your biology and your need to eat! When you believe your worth lies in your weight, you are not free to choose. You are dominated by worldly standards that constantly change. When you do not take the time to live in the present moment, you are no longer free to choose. You become dominated by your future anxieties, fears, and to-do lists. When you ignore and suppress your needs, you are no longer free to choose. You become dominated by your nervous system as it swings between hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal. However, when you no longer live by worldly rules that degrade the magnificent gift of your body, you are free to choose. When you operate from abundance rather than scarcity, love rather than shame, truth rather than lie, you are free to choose. When you are free to choose, you may be surprised that you end up choosing nourishment. When you are pressured to choose, you may find it extraordinarily difficult to steward your body. There is no fear in freedom, there is no pressure in freedom, there is no perfectionism in freedom.
Before God healed my dairy intolerance (read here), I could easily choose to avoid dairy without it feeling restrictive. How did I do this? I knew I was completely free to eat dairy or not eat dairy. I knew eating dairy had no effect on my worth. I did not fear eating dairy. I knew eating dairy was not a sin, and it didn’t affect how much God loved me. Once I wiped away all the fear and lies surrounding dairy, I was free to choose. I could honestly ask, without fear or pressure, “What is best for my body right now? I know dairy won’t make me feel good, and I don’t want to feel that way right now. I’m okay with eating something else.” When fear and pressure were removed, I was inclined to make the nourishing choice without feeling restricted. And guess what? That meant there were times I DID choose to eat dairy. I decided that I was okay with feeling bloated in that moment. One day wouldn’t influence my overall health. I knew I could handle feeling bloated without the world ending. A bloated stomach didn’t mean I failed. I didn’t need to suck in my stomach, I could rest after eating the dairy, and I could sit with the uncomfortable feelings without trying to “fix” everything. I felt in complete control with my decision. There was no room for shame or self-loathing.
Because the spirit resides in you, when you recognize your freedom to choose, your spirit will guide those decisions. When you are free to choose, you are more inclined to choose the nourishing choice. When you are free, you are less dominated by the world, the flesh, and the enemy. In fact, Christ conquered ALL of those things and gave you his authority. Even during the few times you get it wrong, you know that no mistakes is bigger than Christ’s salvation. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” -2 Corinthians 3:17.
But there are three important truths that must be recognized before your freedom to choose will align with nourishment.
Number one: There must be LOVE! God gave you free will so you could choose to love him and participate in his unconditional love. Love is a choice that all decisions should flow from. When I hated my body I was never naturally inclined to nourish it. I felt like my body was this “thing” I had to work against, rather than a magnificent gift from God that I could trust. The reason I can set boundaries around my health decisions without it feeling restrictive, is because I am operating from love rather than shame. I am operating in truth rather than lie. I am operating from abundance rather than scarcity. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” -Galatians 5:13. When I operated from fear, scarcity, and shame, I used my freedom to satisfy my flesh in order to cope with the fear, scarcity, and shame. When I healed, I finally understood when Paul wrote, “'I have the right to do anything,' you say—but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'—but I will not be mastered by anything." -1 Corinthians 6:12. You cannot live by this verse when you are living in fear, shame, deception, bondage, and scarcity. You will try to “master” everything, only for it to master you. When you operate from Heaven’s perspective, when you operate from love, nothing will master you.
The second truth is to seek wise counsel. The enemy is the father of lies for a reason, and we know the heart can be deceitful. You need unbiased, wise counsel to help discern between lie and truth…between bondage and freedom…between love and pride. The Bible emphasizes time and time again the need for us to GET HELP! Proverbs 12:15 says “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 19:20-21 says, “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may eventually become wise. Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the LORD that endures.” When my clients are learning to interpret their cravings, they come to me time and time again for help. Does this mean they aren’t operating in their freedom and authority? Does it mean they are slaves to diet culture? NO! It means they are simply human, and they need help when discerning right from wrong. You were not meant to heal on your own.
The third truth is this: you cannot EARN your freedom. You have ALREADY been set free! So why do you act as if freedom is yours to earn? Earning what you already have is the sin of the fall. Again, the devil is the father of lies. When you believe the lie, you empower the liar! You forget your inheritance as Kings and Queens in Christ Jesus! You forget your identity as sons and daughter of the ALMIGHTY! You forget your authority that Christ has ALREADY won for you! When you choose to freely surrender your will, you simultaneously recognize your freedom and authority in Christ. Christ is commissioning you to WALK in that authority, KNOWING that you are not perfect, KNOWING that you will make mistakes, KNOWING that you will sin. Christ has more trust in you than you have in yourself. He does not have faith in you because of what you have done, he has faith in you because of what HE has done. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, LIVES WITHIN YOU. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” - Romans 6:10-11. STOP READING. Pause right now. Have you ever truly acknowledged the magnitude of what Paul just said. The same God whom gave you free will ALSO gave you His spirit! The God that KNOWS you are not perfect still gave you His spirit. If perfection was a pre-requisite for attaining God’s spirit, everything Christ did was for nothing. You are placing more pressure on yourself than God places upon you. God is bigger than any mistake you could ever make. Christ is bigger than any sin you could ever commit. And there is absolutely nothing that can separate you from God’s love. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39. Christ didn’t commission the apostles because he thought they were perfect, He commissioned the apostles because Christ Himself is perfect!
The greatest act of faith is to walk firmly in the authority Christ granted to you without hesitation. We see this to be true in Acts: “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, walk.” Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.” - Acts 3:1-8
It's almost hard to comprehend the amount of faith it took Peter to not only command the man to walk, but to then grab the man, lift him up, and trust that he would stand. He acted boldly in his faith. God did not tell Peter what to do in that exact moment. Peter fully exercised his free will AND the authority Christ gave him.
Now, rewind to the Gospels. There were many occasions where the disciples were afraid, lacked faith, and acted as victims. When the storm was shaking the boat, the disciples cried to Jesus for help. Jesus calmed the storm, then asked, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” -Mark 4:40. Again, in the Gospel when the disciples told Jesus the 5000 needed to eat, Jesus said, “YOU give them something to eat.” -Matthew 14:16. Jesus wasn’t ignorant. He knew the amount of food available, yet he told his disciples, “YOU feed them.” So much of the gospel is full of Jesus trying to increase his disciple’s faith in what they are capable of through God. When the disciples couldn’t heal the demon possessed boy, Jesus responds by saying, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” -Mark 9:19.
Dang…that seems harsh! In contemplating this, I asked God, “Why could the disciples so easily perform miracles in Acts, but seemed to struggle more in the Gospel? I know about Pentecost, but what was the mindset shift? I still don’t understand your response to the disciples when they couldn’t heal the boy.”
Very clearly I heard God say, “Before, they believed: ‘I can’t but Jesus can.’ After, they believed: ‘I CAN because Jesus can!’”
This gave a whole new meaning to the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13. You are not a victim. True, we are utterly dependent on God. At the same time, your identity in God grants you access to everything you need in order to do His will. You CAN because Christ Can! Daughter, seek wise counsel, learn to operate from Heaven’s perspective in love and abundance, and walk firmly in your freedom AND authority which Christ has already won for you! The secret to stewarding your body is not following the newest diet trends. The secret to stewarding your body – a gift from God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit - is to recognize your identity, freedom, and authority in Christ Jesus.