Well, my stronghold is FOOD! I hate to admit it because I have struggled with it, been set free and walked in the Promised Land....and have wandered back to Egypt. I hate it! Hate it! HATE IT!!!!!
Fill in the Blank. My biggest struggle/stronghold is _____________.
How would my life look if I no longer struggled with _______? What if I was
completely free from ______ through Christ’s power…(Put your struggle/stronghold in the blank) *Try to give some very specific ways your life would be different if you no longer struggled with your above named stronghold*
I hate that anything would have "power" over me...that I would be in bondage to anything....
I WANT TO BE A SLAVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS- NOT A SLAVE TO SIN!!!!!!
I am sure this topic is just for me this week....as I have been avoiding this. I have been pretending that this food issue hasn't crept back in...but it has!
There was a time in my life that food had absolutely NO PULL over me! There could be sweets, cakes, cookies, anything near me.....and if I wasn't hungry, I wouldn't even eat a bite. I wasn't being LEGALISTIC...I just didn't' have the desire....
We went on vacation and I didn't care about food...it didn't matter if I wasn't going to "see" a particular food again.....I didn't care about it!
Hmmm....how would my life look if I were completely free from the bondage of food....I look SKINNY! DUH!
Seriously, there are times that I feel like a "hypocrite" because how can I preach the Word and Freedom in Christ if I am not walking in it...experiencing it?
And, I have friends who tell me that my struggle keeps me real...helps me be relate-able with women.. I know that God wants me to be FREE! It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!
So, I am so glad that Kim has again reminded me of this. I have decided to again lay it at His feet and break free from these chains that bind me! Christ came to set the captives free!
If you would like to read more about my struggles and victory see here and here.
BELOW IS FROM A TALK I DID ON "BEAUTIFUL":
To be honest, I have spent much of my life feeling “not quite good enough”, not quite measuring up. We can have these feelings of inadequacy in many different areas of our lives. For some of us, it IS trying to reach that outward perfection that the world claims we must reach in order to be worthy. For others of us, we have felt inadequate, not quite “good enough” in other areas of our lives. I’m not a good enough mother-daughter-wife. I’m not good enough because I don’t have a husband… And, for many of us, seeking our self worth in these areas has led us into bondage, robbing us of joy and peace and confidence.
Well, as a Princess to the King, I know this is NOT my heritage! I am a daughter to the King of Kings, chosen, adopted, accepted in the Beloved, precious in His sight. He sees me as beautiful! These are HIS Words, not mine! But, I had to come to a place to receive this. I knew these truths in my HEAD, but I was not living them out, truly believing. I was not walking in joy, in freedom and victory. He began to reveal to me that my concern with my appearance and feelings of inadequacy had been a stronghold in my life, and He wanted to release me. He doesn’t want ANYTHING to keep us from experiencing all He has for us.
I wish I could say that this is the first stronghold I needed to be delivered from, but the truth is that since childhood I had gone to other things in my life, worldly pursuits, for comfort and security and satisfaction. I had not yet learned to depend on Christ, to cling to Him, to allow Him to fill me, heal me, and deliver me from the trials and tragedies of life.
Like every little girl I dreamed of being a beautiful princess, but, like so many others, my childhood wasn’t a fairy tale. My father died in a boating accident when I was a baby. My stepfather was an alcoholic and abusive to us. As a child and adolescent, I felt broken and scared, so, I hid myself. I turned to food. It became my safe place. Whenever I felt scared, sad, unloved, overwhelmed, or vulnerable, I would go to food for my escape and my comfort. Usually I would grab something sweet, and hide myself away, either watching TV or reading. I never talked about how I felt, but just buried myself, denying my feelings and losing myself in stories of other people- either in TV or books. I wouldn’t overeat in front of my friends. Only in secret.
I would “steal” a package of Oreos, lay on the couch by myself and zone out. And, that is what the enemy encourage us to do- hide. He deceives us into keeping our secrets hidden in the dark. But, ladies, we can never be healed until we expose these things to God’s light, which heals and restores.
So, food gave me comfort- for a little while, and then when the feeling was gone, I would go and get more. As you can imagine, this took its toll on my body and I soon became an overweight child. This led to more pain. Kids at school made fun of me. All I wanted to be was invisible, but my weight drew unwelcome attention.
By the time I hit junior high, I did not want to be overweight anymore. I wanted boys to like me. I did not want to be teased. So the summer before 8th grade, I stopped eating. I began walking or riding my bike everywhere I went. My weight dropped quickly and dramatically. And, I began to notice the attention I received with my new found body. Everyone commented on how good I looked. Boys began to notice me. I loved this new attention I was receiving because of how I looked. I found something new to fill this emptiness inside of me- the attention and the praise I received. I craved compliments and enjoyed flirting with guys. It was like a high, and the more I received, the more I wanted.
So, now my safe place became my appearance. As long as I was skinny and looked good on the outside, I felt like I was OK. Exercise soon became another stronghold. I needed it to maintain the thin body.
This continued through high school and college. My personal worth was directly related to my outward appearance. And, being on a large campus with an emphasis on partying, I lived on the attention I received at parties. I was living an MTV lifestyle. All of my “hang-ups” could be attributed to my childhood. And I could put the blame on my broken childhood, absence of father, abuse by a stepfather, the desperate feelings of needing to find that male affection and attention. These things created a longing in me, but instead of turning to God I turned to them to fill me. Instead of filling me up and giving me a satisfaction, it only created more of longing, a deeper hole to be filled. That is how it always is when we look to the world to fill us up. We may feel temporary satisfaction, but the need, desire, and longing comes back fiercer than before.
Well, with this deeper hole needing to be filled, I found another passion to make me feel accepted- working hard and achieving success. I began seeking approval of my professors by striving for academic perfection. I began receiving recognition through my work and my accomplishments. This continued even after college when I became a teacher. I needed to be the best. I needed to be perfect. I continually compared myself to everyone around me. I had this competitive spirit, striving to be better than everyone around me, to be the best, always with this underlying feeling that I wasn’t good enough.
By this time, I was married to my wonderful husband, Brian. He was right out of college, too, so we were both workaholics, spending every night working together.
Well, I went on like that for some time. We had our first child, Andrew, and we were expecting our second when we moved from Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was lonely, moving to new place far from home. And, I found a new thing to try to fill the longing of my heart… activities. I jumped right in, joining every club, organization, and play group. I will never forget one morning when Andrew stood crying at the door, saying, “Mommy, can we just stay home today?”
I was so busy with activities, trying to fill the emptiness in my soul.
Wow! I had set up such strongholds in my life. I didn’t think there was anything wrong. In fact, I probably thought I had it all together! Even though I would have considered myself a Christian, I DID NOT have an intimate relationship with the Lord. I prayed every night before bed and we went to church. Instead of feeding on God, hungering after Him and pursuing Him, I was feeding on these worldly pursuits. I was looking for my self worth in all of these things, but never quite measuring up. I never felt complete.
After Ashley was born, I could not take off my pregnancy weight, and I was feeling so depressed. Now, remember, for years, I had sought my worth in my outward appearance, and to have all this extra weight on me, I literally did not want to go out of the house! None of my clothes fit. Ashley was 6 months old, and I could only wear my husband’s pants or maternity clothes! I was desperate.
I heard about a bible study that helped you lose weight, and was so interested. So, I began facilitating it in my home. Wow! Did God open my eyes through that bible study!
It taught about strongholds and filling up on other things instead of a relationship with God. God began setting me free from these areas of bondage by filling up on Him! I had never experienced this RELATIONSHIP with the living God before! Yes, I had gone to church and prayed, but to make Him the Lord of my life, my strength, my redeemer, my deliverer, my very best friend, and my 1st love was completely new to me! To experience His presence daily, to be intimate with Him, to commune with Him daily… Whew! It changed my life forever!
I learned that I needed to seek a relationship with Jesus, instead of filling my heart with all of these worldly pursuits. He wants our hearts to be totally devoted to Him, so He will help us to work these things out, setting us free to be the women He created us to be! It is only in this relationship with my Precious Savior that I find my true worth. I have a longing, a desire to be loved, to feel safe, to be the princess… It is ONLY Jesus that can satisfy these longings and desires.
So over the past 7 years, God has continued to reveal to me strongholds in my life, areas of bondage that were keeping me from living in victory- keeping me from living the abundant life God had already given to me! He helped work through the process of being totally set free, living in complete liberty and joy! Thankfully, it has been a process and He slowly has revealed each area He wants to refine. God had so much work to do in my heart, that if He showed me everything at once, I probably would have had a breakdown! So, He would heal an area and I would be like “Whew! That’s done!” And then, He would reveal another area that He was going to refine.
So, last summer, God began working on this last area of bondage. He has freed me from has been the need to “beautiful” according to the world’s standards, and defining who I am in that, instead of believing who I am in Christ.
And, honestly, talking about this area of bondage is not easy. I mean, come on, I’m a Christian woman! I shouldn’t be worried about how I look- that is so shallow, so vain. So, for a long time I had been denying I even had this stronghold. I stuffed all of it down and refused to deal with it. But, when there is something deep down, God will bring it to the surface for us to deal with it. And, that is what He did.
God began showing me that I cared too much about how I looked through a few very HUMBLING experiences. He continued to prod at my heart, He continued to turn up the heat, so to speak. There was one point I would not look at my reflection in the mirror. I hated what I saw. I saw myself as flawed, as disgusting. My circumstances seemed to be getting worse and worse. I finally cried out to God. What He showed me was that was NOT how HE saw me. I am His beautiful creation. I had bought into the enemy’s lies and deception, and the world’s illusions. But, my precious God wanted me to see myself as He sees me- His princess, lovely, precious, beautiful. I am beautiful because Jesus is beautiful.
It is only in a relationship with my precious Savior that I will feel truly worthy. I have a longing, a desire to be loved, to feel safe, to be the princess… It is ONLY Jesus that can satisfy these longings and desires.
Because of my relationship with the only One who can fill me, Jesus Christ, I can see myself as lovely, precious, beautiful. I believe He was preparing me then to speak to YOU now. He laid on my heart, “Speak Truth to the brokenhearted. Tell them I see them as beautiful. It doesn’t matter what the world has told them, or other people. He says, ‘you are beautiful to me.”
“Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
Hear His precious words to you-
“The King is enthralled with your beauty.” (Psalm 45:11)
He says to you, “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.”
(Song of Songs 1:15, 2:14 )
He loves us more than we could ever know or imagine.
Do you want to know my Jesus? Do you want to experience this love only our True Prince can give to us? Do you want to see yourself as He sees you, Princess?
Please pray with me. Father, I know there are women in this room right now who have never taken that step of accepting You as Lord and Savior. There is a dear one who wants to open her heart and surrender to Your love. Sisters, if you want to know this Jesus, to accept Him as Your Lord and Savior, pray, “God, I know I need You. I want You. I want to know You. I confess I have tried living without You, going my own way. I confess I am a sinner needing the redeeming blood of Jesus to set me free from sin and death. Lord, I make You my Lord and Savior. I ask You to come into my heart.”
Father, I know others in this room know You, but have not come into an intimate relationship with You. Sister, if this is you, and you so want an intimate relationship with Him, cry out to Him. Tell Him You want to know Him more. Tell Him you want Him to be your life, your stronghold, your source, your King, your sweet prince.
Father, in the name of Jesus, and by the power and authority we have through His blood, I pray for all of these women. I pray they would see themselves the way You see them. I pray that would grasp how wide, how long, how deep is the love of Christ, and I pray that they would KNOW this love, and that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. We praise You, Father! We praise You, Jesus!
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