Dear Friend…

A guest post by Danielle Hayre:

Dear Friend,

​For what feels like forever I have been searching for something, but perhaps over this past year really, I have actively been pursuing an answer to a question I didn’t even fully understand. My first question was why can’t I lose weight and my second question was why do I care? What is wrong with my body and what is wrong with my body? I struggled with the discrepancies in what the world told me. You should love your body. You should want to be thinner. You need to work out and eat right. Who cares?! Just be you! From a multitude of voices came a ton of different counsel (some contradictory, some valuable, some not). Honestly, it felt like a mess, like a Gordian knot- an unsolvable problem. If you’ve been surrounded by all of those voices, and as a woman, you likely have, then you know the problem I’m talking about. You may have come to a final conclusion, even. I didn’t. I could not settle completely on an answer because I had been asking the wrong question…I had not formulated a good question to ask (you know, your science teacher wouldn’t have approved it!).

​Then came the moment when it hit me. I was not asking what God wanted from me, from my body, from my eating. I started to ask, “Does He even care? If I’m going to get a new body one day, does it matter if I eat whatever I want and if I love my body in each stage, like one part of society is screaming at me?” I started to ask, “Does He care if I stop eating or if I begin a workout regimen or a diet plan or pay an arm and a leg (which feels awful, by the way—and is a large cause for many people heading a different route, I’m sure) to meet my physical goals, more specifically my weight and jean-size goals? Does He care if I chase the world’s standard of beauty, to be thinner? Do you see any problems with what is happening? I can paint each discrepancy in a truly confusing light. Seeing the problem in each viewpoint did not help me. It just made me feel lost….Frozen fans—I was lost in the woods and here was the real problem….

​Food was my true north. Food was my love and what I was pursuing. What’s wrong with my body…? Um, food. Food was my god. My idol. But, I’m a Jesus-girl (in Lysa’s words—I’ll get there in a minute). I don’t have idols. I know that is wrong. It’s a sin. It’s stupid really. They are powerless. Yet I had one! Took a while to come to this conclusion. Some failure philosophies had rooted deeply in me and deceived me and ultimately numbed me. This led to a multitude of problems…because sin always does, ya know? You start down one path with one little thing that is your weakness and soon your swarmed in a pile of weaknesses, a pit of destruction, Jesus-girl or not.

​Well, what happened? I realized that there had to be a GOOD question and an answer in the Word of God and while I’ve read my Bible (daily, often, cover to cover), I hadn’t found it, heard it, recognized it. I read all of the verses that would eventually resonate deeply in my soul and shake me loose, that would unsettle me and upend me! Yet I didn’t target my problem. 

​God is truly amazing. He aligns things in our life that we may not understand until finally it’s like the first sunny day after winter dawning in full force with 70 degrees, a light breeze, and you step out saying, “OH! YES!”. (Can I get an amen?!) Over the summer, I was able to write a series of lessons for our Junior Church program that dug deep, way deep, into the Sermon on the Mount beginning with the Beatitudes—which is a really amazing thing to study. One of Jesus’ most famous, lengthy sermons on the hillside—I mean, of course it’s worth delving into. I realize now, it was probably more for me than anyone else. No teacher of these lessons got what I got from them. No kid listening to these lessons understood what I did. I studied and studied and studied. I was consumed by the truths Jesus taught in this sermon. But that is what scripture does. It changes us. It cuts to the heart. And, what is newly evident to me, or at least refreshed, it prepares the heart. I would encourage you to deeply study the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount. Study the words: poor in spirit, meek, hungry and thirsty, mourn, etc. Read commentaries, read children’s lessons, and look up what it means to turn the other cheek and see how many people say, “I would never teach my kids to be a door mat” because they have misunderstood! There is so much rich truth here and you should try and understand this truth under the umbrella of Hebrews—where one of the themes is that Jesus is BETTER, a better teacher, a better priest, a better rest. The truths I learned from the Beatitudes study set me up to teach and study the Ten Commandments. By God’s divine providence I had to write the first three lessons on the first three commandments because the book/curriculum hadn’t arrived. I see, now, God’s hand and how He finally planned His breakthrough to me. I didn’t recognize at the time. In fact, I felt like a failure for not realizing how delayed I was in ordering the book. Oi, how great His grace and sovereignty are! Of course, we must list the first three commandments (Exodus 20:1-7, KJV): 

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 

I have brought you out of the house of bondage. I am the Lord thy God. You will not have any other gods before me. You won’t make idols for yourself! You won’t bow down to them or serve them. (My paraphrase). Who’s nodding along? Yes, yes, I know. And yet of course Israel, God’s chosen people failed miserably- we see this over and over throughout the Old Testament and then the ultimate rejection of Jesus in the New Testament. I don’t know why I walked around ignorantly prideful that at least I didn’t…. like the Israelites. Am I kidding? I didn’t worship Hekate or Ashtaroth. I didn’t sacrifice my children on the altar of Molech or thank the river gods for flooding and giving me good crops. 

​Here’s some hard truth: But didn’t I?

​No, I didn’t build an altar and literally sacrifice my children on it in the name of a false god, but food has waged war in my house and been the significant source of strife between me and my daughter. Funnily enough it had its emergence in my relationship with my mom as well (and my dad). So didn’t I? Did I daily sacrifice my children on the altar of my god? Did I make our celebrations surround food? Did I cause my kids to stumble over the same unhealthy choices when we had a particularly challenging day or believed we deserved some kind of reward? “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me”… I will not be so bold as to blame my struggles with the god of my belly on my parents or their grandparents, etc. I made my own decisions and I’ve found God’s truth because I was searching for it! However, I see the relation to breaking these commandments knowingly or unknowingly and I recognize the harm it can do to our children and grandchildren. Furthermore, when I chose to turn to food in times of joy, sadness, pain, stress, exhaustion, etc., instead of turning to God, instead of delighting in God, instead of finding refuge in God, wasn’t I setting up an idol? Yes, yes I was. 

​At a ladies retreat I attended in February of 2020, I saw this book on the table, Made to Crave by my new friend Lysa TerKeurst (though she’s completely unaware of me). The tagline caught my eye. “Satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food.” I was skeptical. I’m not going to lie. I walked away from the table and did not purchase the book (and my friends know that I am a book devourer). I didn’t buy a single book…because I knew the one I needed to read was not something I was interested in purchasing. I actually don’t know why I didn’t. It wasn’t the money. I could have honestly afforded one book. I was already eating on a plan (that I purchased-Optavia for you gurus). I was aware that I needed to make changes and I was trying. Perhaps it was the fact that some of the women around me wouldn’t have understood, would have razed me, or put me in the “fun-killer”, dieter, dessert-nazi category, and I am much too fragile to be labelled. Already I was battling with whether to have dessert and how to have just one oreo. Maybe it was guilt? Or that I was not convinced. I actually was not even sure that’s what I needed. 

I had heard of other books like “Weigh Down”. My mom gave me the Bible study companion and the book Weigh Down. She reminded me of a time when she did the weigh down challenge and it worked. She said she ate cheesecake every time she was hungry. She said she carried cheesecake around with her and eventually she was disgusted by cheesecake. It is an intriguing concept but still something was missing for me. How would I carry my drug of choice with me when it was so widespread? What would I do? One food at a time? Bread for a week. Then pasta, followed by cookies, cake, ice cream? Is getting sick to death of my favorite treats the answer? Surely “Made to Crave” is just another weight loss trick book or something telling me everything I already know without giving me a definite answer.

​I went home, got on my library’s webpage, logged in and preceded to look up all the books on the list so I could request whatever is available. My favorite way to check out books from my library, so I can avoid the shelf scan and the giant bag of books. I still get a giant bag of books, but I end up reading them or having my kids read them. When I shelf can and bring them home to “preview”, I return half unread. Anyways, fast forward two weeks after getting Made to Crave, when I finally read the first chapter. 

You can download a sample here and sign up for a devotional or the 21-day challenge which is like a piecemeal of the book (condensed form) for those who need an “assignment” a day, but feel overwhelmed by a book. I’m telling you, it’s not something to be skeptical over. Give it a shot. Because here is the first and most important truth I needed to learn. My weakness with food was not merely a physical weakness. It’s a spiritual one and I was looking to grow in Christ. I want my eating to glorify the Lord. I want everything I do to glorify God. He DOES care what I put into my body and I’m not going to “insert pithy statement you’ve heard before” here. Read the book. There is nothing pithy about the truths that Lysa shares. I couldn’t put the book down. She said everything I’ve been needing to hear and answered every question I couldn’t put into words. If the book didn’t resonate deeply enough with me, then the next three days I spent wrestling my flesh and surrendering to the Lord would. 

It wasn’t the book. It was Christ. I’m always astounded at the lengths He will go to for me. I don’t know why I’m surprised. You should hear some of my other moments when Christ changes me…Actually, writing those words I can see that I am really thick-skulled, and stubborn. It does take an act of the Lord to turn me towards truth! Oh Lord, change me and use my stubbornness to your glory or break it down brick by stubborn brick.

I’m a music lover. I love to sing, worship, jam, dance. It’s fun. It’s a good way to move, groove, motivate. My family and friends called me a human iPod and eventually led to me receiving an iPod as a gift. I can memorize lyrics and tunes. I have a million and twelve songs in my head at any time (my daughter is following in my steps. She is awesome.). So while reading this book, towards the end (which was really day 2 of reading), I started singing “You are my all in all”:

You are my strength when I am weak

You are the treasure that I seek

You are my all in all

Seeking You as a precious jewel

Lord to give up I’d be a fool

You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is Your name

Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is Your name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame,

Rising again, I bless Your name.

You are my all in all

When I fall down You pick me up

When I am dry You fill my cup

You are my all in all.

There is no mention of food, however, there is a clear message in this song that  I have no power of my own accord, that there is nothing that can FILL me apart from Christ, and that when I fail, in my human fleshy weakness, Christ is there to pick me up. He is my Sustainer and my Strength. He holds me together. He makes me new. What is my cross to bear? Well, right now it is the sin of gluttony, indulgence, idol-worship, food. And my obedience to Christ means laying it on the altar to God, surrendering, and for a time, saying no to things that have been a crutch and a poor replacement for dependence I should have placed on God.  It isn’t about a weight, a jean-size, or losing my love handles and back fat (which I do want to do), but not more than I want to be obedient to Christ, and not more than I want to be filled with Christ.

​From the beginning of time, Satan, our great adversary has known that we women can be swayed and manipulated through food. He has lied and deceived us about what we will feel and be like when we just take one bite… Hasn’t he? It is not far-fetched to put my struggle alongside of Eve’s. She was a God following girl, swayed by the devil. Her husband loved her and thought she was gorgeous! Hello?! WHOA-man! J So what in the world, Satan! He knew exactly how to entice her to turn to something other than God for fulfillment. It’s a plague that has affected generations! Follow the line down to the Israelites in the wilderness after they left Egypt. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”. Psalm 78:18 says, “They willfully put God to the test, by asking for food that they desired.” And in the New Testament, Philippians 3:18-19 says, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things”. Think I’m taking it out of context? Well, nope. Look at the remainder of Philippians 3, verse 20-21. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Direct reference to the fact that my humble, sinful body will one day have to be exchanged for Christ’s glorified version, follows a warning that there are many controlled by the god of their appetites…and I know the Israelites were often ruled by their hunger and thirst. So you consider the truths of Scripture, weigh them against one another and see that God commands us to seek Him, to follow His commands, to love Him more than all else, to be filled by Him (the bread of life), to seek Him for comfort and protection. Yet constantly I turned to food! 

​Well I listened to several Psalm’s the other day and you know what keeps playing over and over in my head? “How long will you love what is worthless?” Psalm 4:2. I need food to survive. Food is not my god, my provider, my deliverer. Food does not bring joy. Food is not a sustainer. I should not honor and love the gift, but the Giver. And if that wasn’t clear enough I recently signed up for the “daily Bible verse texts” from the Bible app. There is something sweet about getting a quick blurb as a notification on my phone from the Word of God. I do a daily quiet time but I like to have constant reminders that the Lord loves me and gave me His Word! It is so precious. Look at this progression. 

March 3- Danielle stares at the book Made to Crave, due in three days, haven’t opened it yet. Maybe today…decides to read something else—also from the ladies conference.

Bible verse: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7.

Saturday, March 7- Knows something needs to change, wonders what could God possible require, eats out wayyyy too much over the weekend because I had nothing in the fridge and certainly nothing healthy.

Bible verse: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neighter shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

Sunday, March 8- Finishes the other book. Ugh, I guess I will start Made to Crave, it’s overdue after all. 

Bible verse: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

Monday, March 9- Finishes Made to Crave, devours it for the Biblical truth poured into my life. Finally realizes what has been missing!

Bible verse: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 (a reminder of all the study I did in the Beatitudes, the preparation in my own heart to produce lasting and real, God-designed change)

Tuesday, March 10- a day where some changes must be made, where prayer is my source of comfort and guidance. A day where a plan is formed because the Word of God designed it for me! To seek God, to spend more time in prayer! To do battle against the wiles of Satan who would lie and torment me with the false, weak, insufficient god of food!

Bible verse: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” 1 John 5:14 (By the way, studying the book of 1 John with my kids and student this week too—so that’s divine). 

Wednesday, March 11- deciding to be a good steward of what I’m given, to not be “indulgent”, to indulge in Christ and to devour his word, not my pantry! I will not eat out of convenience but out of the promise that Christ will fill me. I will eat because it is necessary but will find strength and sustenance in Christ, not bread. I will also post signs in every area of my kitchen, and my work (where I am first thing every morning) as reminders that I am made new in Christ and He is capable.

Bible verse: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10

Thursday, March 12—recognizing that I am not perfect, and I will mess up (though I don’t think I have yet). I am concerned with obedience, walking faithfully in prayer. I am battling the temptation for treats and battling the “need” for a diet when my energy wanes, but choosing to find strength in Christ instead.

Bible verse: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8

Also brought to my attention was this verse, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalms 16:8

Friday, March 13- deciding to share what I have learned, though I don’t know why or for who. Maybe I need accountability. Maybe someone needs what I have learned too. 

Bible verse: “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”

Oh, the glorious, amazing, gracious, and merciful God that I serve. He pursues me and prepares me. I am so in awe. I am struck by His infinite kindness. How could I not place Him ever before me? How could I ever seek to be filled by anything but Him? Thank you Jesus! Thank you Lord! I surrender and I am so sorry for my mistakes. Cleanse me, change me, and make me more like You. Fill me with Your presence and Your holiness. Jesus, consume me and let me not be consumed by my food. I eat to survive, but food is not my provider or sustainer. You are. May I run to You when I am weary, when I am stressed, when I am celebrating. May food be a necessary part of life but not my whole life! J Thank you for protecting me, for calling me out of an addiction often overlooked in light of “worser” addictions. Thank you for the blessing of this great desperate desire to be filled and may I stop attempting to replace the “filling”. J I am so excited to see how God will use this new… craving! J J I’m so blessed and honored to be His chosen child, that He would see me and meet my every need. Spiritual and physical. I am praying for you friend. Know that God pursues you just the same. He loves you and He is calling!

Love, 

In Christ,

Danielle

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