It was about this time last year when my pastor introduced me to the church as a new member of the team. During his overly-kind introduction, he briefly mentioned that I enjoy Starbucks. Afterward, I was approached by a man who felt it was his mission in life to provide a detailed rap sheet of all the social injustices I was participating in by consuming my venti iced coffee with two shots of espresso.
Fast forward a couple weeks: I stood on stage at my church and, without a thought, encouraged my church family to enjoy the holiday by resting, enjoying family time, and eating way too much food. I stepped off the stage and was hit with two huge thoughts:
1. I just encouraged gluttony.
2. I was deeply bound and needed help.
Oddly enough, no one mentioned this to me. No one corrected me. No one lovingly challenged me toward acknowledging the problem with what I had just said. Nothing happened.
I learned the most interesting thing about an addiction to food: essentially no one cares.
Clearly, gluttony was acceptable but I was aligning myself with satan by sipping my Starbucks.
At this point, I was nearly 250 pounds and standing at a strong five foot, seven inches. My bloodwork foreshadowed a life of immense pain and disease as I began to approach the threshold of diabetes. I was emotionally exhausted, mentally drained, and spiritually depleted, but I had become pretty good at covering up these things.
Or so I thought.
The truth is, all of my emotional, mental, and spiritual brokenness manifested itself in an inappropriate relationship with food. My body was wearing the chaos that raged inside me and I couldn’t hide it. I developed severe sleep apnea, my marriage was suffering due to lack of confidence and depression, and I felt trapped. Every possible metric related to health continued to decline.
I needed to make a change. But the change I needed was more than skin deep. I needed to go into the darkest places of my heart, mind, and soul and let God use those who loved me to bring healing to me.
But this is impossible without being fully known and loved.
At some point in my life, I put up walls rather than letting people in. I was still extremely relational and loved time with people, but no one knew the war inside me.
Not fully anyway.
Because if they did, I was sure they wouldn’t accept me.
Over the past year, I’ve been on a journey to become truly healthy and whole. I sought help from a health coach who had a proven path I could follow, educated myself on what health looks like and how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be, and committed to the process with a community of like-minded people.
Through this process, I was able to lose 80 pounds, change many of my unhealthy habits, and was equipped with the tools and principles to not just sustain my transformation but to optimize it over time.
My program focused on how an unhealthy mind contributes to an unhealthy weight and, really, poor health all around. This is how I realized that somewhere along the way, I stopped expressing my emotions. I’ve never been known as a crier or even an emotional person—I was even quick to inform people of this.
However, over the past year, what I’ve come to learn is that I’m actually very emotional. But rather than expressing my emotions in a healthy and appropriate way, I directed them toward food.
When we express our emotions in a healthy and appropriate way with our loved ones, we are experiencing true connection. As I’ve come to understand my inappropriate relationship with food, I’ve recognized the difficulty I’ve had truly connecting with the people around me. Expressing emotion may or may not include crying but it absolutely includes vulnerability, transparency, safety, and love. Apparently, for a time, I mostly experienced these within the controlled environment of my plate.
I still have a ways to go on my journey to becoming healthy and whole—especially since it’s really a part of the sanctification process and won’t truly be complete this side of Heaven. But it’s refreshing to be on this road with people who fully know me and love me even as they are aware of my deepest wounds, my worst habits, and my darkest corners.
I’m so grateful God blessed me with a loving wife, a confident and committed coach, unbelievably gracious and real friends, and a powerful community.
Justin is the Media Coordinator for Pure Desire. For 17 years, he has worked in various ministry capacities: several pastoral roles, video editing, and audio/video production to name a few. He is currently working on a Master’s of Divinity through Moody Theological Seminary. Justin is passionate about seeing people awakened to becoming the person God created them to be in all areas of their lives.