Marnell’s family has a campout every first of June, which is this weekend. It’s hard to eat healthily while camping, so I evaluated my situation and made an intelligent plan. My diet would be exemplary in the days leading up to the campout, so I could survive the pitfalls of cheese and chocolate and crunchy snacks without gaining five pounds.
Yes indeed, I told myself confidently, I will stick with only the best nutrition. Carrots. Chicken breast. Black beans. Eggs. Nonfat Greek yogurt. These would be the staples of my diet on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday morning. I would go on long bike rides and stay active. I would arrive at the camp lean and in control, with plenty of calories to spare.
I’ve been doing quite well this spring and finally arrived at a lovely low number that I probably haven’t seen for a year. I had even done okay with the few small trips we went on, and thought about writing a Tuesday Tips column called Tricks for Trips, or some such thing (which I still may write). So I weighed in on Wednesday morning at WW and was still in a very good range of weight, numbers I probably haven’t seen for a year, despite Memorial Day. Now, with just a few brief days of discipline and apples, I would float into the weekend lighter than air.
So I finished off a jar of peanut butter on Wednesday, and ate a dozen cookies on Thursday.
Nope, I’m NOT joking. I’ve been struggling with writers’ block and motivation block and I don’t know what other kinds of block, and mostly the cookies just looked really good. I quit counting them, but if it wasn’t a dozen, it was easily equaled by the Starbucks treats I had and the Cheetos I finished off. I sat on the floor and made art with magic markers as a tangible expression of my gloom.
My texting conversation with my friend Sarah went like this:
Sarah: I feel like I got nothing done today!
Me: Well on the bright side you probably haven’t eaten a dozen cookies like I did. I haven’t done this for a long time. Have a nice piano lesson!
Sarah: Did you really eat a dozen?
Me: Oh probably at least.
Sarah: I don’t believe u
Me: How many times do I have to tell you that I have a REAL problem?! *smiling emoji*
Sarah: A dozen
Me: Thinking about a bike ride now. *horrified face* *13 cookie emojis*
Sarah: *laughing emoji* A dozen miles
Me: Well some were smallish. But yes that’s a good idea.
Sarah: Smallish miles
So, it was all very bad and I felt very discouraged, and then Marnell invited a friend I’ll call Malachi over for supper which was okay but I didn’t feel like cooking and I was a complete failure as a human being and a wife and we literally ate hot dogs and warmed up burgers we had grilled on Memorial Day.
And then, Malachi said, mostly to his plate, “I have this problem with drinking too much alcohol.”
And I said, “I have a problem like that too. Cookies. I ate way too many today.”
“So that’s your addiction,” he said.
And he looked up and he looked me in the eye, and I thought I noticed a glint of relief.
And then, I realized that in my fight with this problem, I am not alone. I had a bad day, yes, but in my walk with God, I have learned some things, and I have come to know moments of redemption that grow more common, not less. And I wished that Malachi could walk the same journey and not be alone.
“I’ve come to identify that I often have a feeling of emptiness before I eat too much,” I said, “and talking to God about it and taking that emptiness to Him is the only thing I ever found to help, even though I certainly am not perfect at always doing that.”
(As you know I’m a firm believer in the value of accountability groups and education and my favorite WW if you are super serious about losing weight or have a bad problem like me. It is most useful ESPECIALLY on terrible weeks like this, to know you have to face the music and get back on track. But I’ve also found that at times I am unfaithful to any plan if I don’t have a way to deal with the emptiness.)
“Can you relate to what I’m saying about the feeling of emptiness?” I asked Malachi.
“Yes,” he said. “But I don’t feel like I can talk to God. There are some things that have happened in my life….”
This was at the beginning of five hours of conversation. Malachi asked a lot of good questions and explained his frustrations with the idea of a God who could let bad things happen like child abuse. Marnell is fantastic with dialoguing on these topics. He is both compassionate and truthful in defending his faith, the God of the Bible, and the Scriptures themselves. I put in my two cents as well, and got downright excited. We talked and laughed.
“Have you seen how the prophecies in the Old Testament were fulfilled perfectly in Jesus hundreds of years later?” I asked Malachi. “It’s so cool!”
And I was suddenly so glad to know God and the Scriptures, and I ached for Malachi to know this too, and isn’t it the strangest thing in the world that God can use our own brokenness as a springboard to healing conversations?
The next day I told Sarah how God had used my very bad binge for His glory.
“You should overeat more often,” she said.
Isn’t she so helpful? But, hey. I’m a living, breathing, slightly puffy reminder that God can use anyone!