Hey Oinker! Wanna Diet?

When Dad took a church in west central Louisiana, as a nine-year-old, I found Simpson was my all-time favorite place to live. When I look back on it, I remember a profusion of romantic wealth, of beauty lived and passed. The memories still linger as if they belong in the present instead of yesterday. I am blessed to have these memories still lingering at the threshold of this forgetful mind. They are truly mine alone to share, so I’ve chosen to share with you, my friends,  this one moment in time when, in this quaint little town in the middle of nowhere, I was awakened to my ill thoughts of self, and rewarded by the glory of God.

Simpson was an imaginative little bump in the road. The beauty was such that one must live there for a time to appreciate summer’s dog-days, and rain beating the tin roof, with anything other than harmony. Such was the summer of 1959. I will never forget the time, or the whimsical list of characters, with whom I fell in love in that whistle-stop of a hamlet.

Once each month we made our thirty-five mile shopping trip to Alexandria, which I enjoyed, except in August when it was back-to-school time. It was a journey that made me feel sub-human. You see, I was a blessed child, chosen, by I don’t know who, to carry a lot of extra weight. It just wasn’t fair. My whole family was thin, except for me.

My brothers had their choice of really neat clothes. You know, the ones the mannequins wear to draw your attention to how totally cool they are. When it was my turn, we weaved a path to a totally different department. It was like there was a large, flashing neon sign that said, Over Here Fat Boy! Haha! I felt like lights flashed, sirens sounded, cymbals clashed and horns blared the minute I entered the “Chubby” department, to announce I was there, again. The focus was on me. There was no mannequin in this section, just neatly folded Husky clothes. Oh, how I hated that word, Husky. It was just a polite way of calling me fatso, or tub-o-lard, or even, trying to be funny, pudge-muffin. I found nothing humorous about it. Buffalo petite was not a size I was familiar with. Nevertheless, it seemed to be all I could find for this blubber-gut. Thoughts raged through my mind like a destructive curse, driving a wedge between my heart and my soul. The not so gentle reminder that I was indeed FAT, terrified the fabric of my being. After all, these jeans had their own little neon proclamation. The rear belt loops provided a place for the blazing declaration of my waist size, and therefore the behemoth amount of flesh everyone could ridicule.

Continued hurt quickly teaches that being fat implies a variety of perceived personalities: I was a slob! I loved to eat too much! I would swallow anything whole; “let Andy slurp up the crumbs on the cafeteria table,” etc. A bruised ego was a daily tribute to the magnitude of pain I suffered. The terrorizing, agonizing darts of shame flowed like an uncontrolled oil well of tears at school and at home. My personality, the real me, felt stupid and worthless, and I believed that no one liked me. I was nothing but a wasted human being, but then someone had to make the world laugh. It might as well be me. I left Sears & Roebuck humiliated, and quietly rode the miles back home to the internal din of ungodly laughter, ridicule and non-acceptance. I hated who I was. I wanted to be skinny and never again be fat. I wanted people to look at my six-pack not the one-pack hanging over my belt. Why couldn’t I be thin? Arrrg!

As I grew older I arrived at an impasse, a gridlock of sorts, that I had to solve before I entered the gates of adulthood. I began to realize that I was not the Christian I presented to everyone. I treated myself worse that the bullies. I hated myself more. I cried while I made fun of myself, squeezing my gut in front of the mirror. There was an array of other quandaries. A dilemma was born. I could either continue down the path of depression, hating what God had created, or I could do something about it. On my knees, an awakening of grace led me to an understanding of who I was. Character assassination was unimportant, compared to what I held so dearly in my heart.

Sometimes we are stupid, because we don’t listen. God laid out a plan for us before we were born (Jeremiah 29:11). Sometimes the frustrations of our world and the flesh are reflected I our outer person, especially when bullies bring it out of us.

“As one thinks in his heart, so is he.”

 (Proverbs 23:7)

     I came to grips with the person I was and the one God wanted me to be. It was time to develop the person that I could live with. I had to conquer the old self, retrain my thinking, and strengthen my self-respect to a level of honor and dignity that would allow me a daily growth within.

“Do not be conformed to this world,

but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,

that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,

what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

(Romans 12:2 ESV)

     There is a progressive growth process in our Christian walk. It doesn’t matter if it is depression, being called a porky, having uncontrollable behavior or anything else; as long as we bully ourselves and torment our own hearts we cannot move forward out of this anguish we so readily portray as Christ like.

In this progressive growth process we begin to understand that a self-centered life could be just as dangerous as a diminished self-image. Life has to be built around someone other than ourselves. It is here that we can discover what is missing. His Word revealed that I am a visible expression of God, simply because I am His child.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us,

 that God sent his only Son into the world,

 so that we might live through him.

 In this is love, not that we loved God

but that he loved us and

sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.”

 (1 John 4:9-10 RSV)

When I am honest, I realize that it is up to me to make the right decisions in reevaluating the direction I want to go in serving God. Though I am saved by grace through faith, scripture doesn’t promise that I’ll always feel loved, only that I am loved. The more we love Christ and His Church, the more we will understand and experience His love for each of us.

It was here that I began to understand God really does love me as I am, and I learned that this life change required self-discipline. Daily communication with God reveals so much through His Word. One scripture that keeps my head high and a smile on my face is this:

“Look at what you were before God called you. Not many of you were wise by human standards. Not many of you had great influence. Not many of you came from important families. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose what this world thinks is unimportant and what this world looks down on and thinks is nothing in order to bring to nothing what the world thinks is important. God did this, so that no one could boast in his presence.”

(I Corinthians 1:26-29)

In creating a place in my heart and body for God’s dwelling, I realized two things: One, I wouldn’t want to dwell in this bacon body of mine either. And two, weight would always be an issue for me. Like anything else, when my main priority is to please God, I can’t sit idly by and watch “chunky monkey” grow. I have to work hard to keep the pounds off and satan (intentional lower case, he doesn’t deserve upper case) away from my mind. Daily communion with God through His word is essential, and prayer is the key. RC Sproul said we don’t pray simply because we are too lazy to pray. I agree. I’ve been guilty. Are you?

 “Do you not know that you are a temple of God,

and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

If any man destroys the temple, God will destroy him,

for the temple of God is holy,

and that is what you are.”

(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

In overcoming the issue of weight gain I have discovered that there is no diet that will work. The key is simply developing healthy eating habits, illuminating processed foods, sugars and carbs. Combined with exercise, this is the way to go. I don’t have to count calories or measure portions to obtain the promise of written diets. Only eat healthy foods and the pounds will leave voluntarily. All of this should leave you asking, “Can my body really be a place for God to dwell? Is this temple worthy of His Spirit? You decide.

I would like to introduce you to a very dear friend of mine in the blogosphere. She is the one who has me hooked on healthful eating and exercise. She tells of her own struggles and shares some wonderful recipes that will make your mouth salivate just looking at the pictures. Please go to her site; she can help you develop a healthy lifestyle.  http://faithfoodandfriends.com/

This may be the beginning of your healthy walk with God, providing the holy temple He deserves and created you to be. We are His dwelling place.


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49 thoughts on “Hey Oinker! Wanna Diet?

  1. Dearest Andy, I am blessed beyond words to call you friend. Since we have been sharing this journey, I feel more confidant than ever that this is a battle we can win. This is a war against the trappings of Satan, and it has gone on too long in both of our lives. We truly do house the Holy Spirit in our God-given temples, and it is time to act in a way that honors that fact.

    This was an incredibly beautiful post. One of the best I have ever read. Thank you for including me in it. I feel honored beyond words or measure. Thank you, Dear Friend.

    • Thank you Skye! That is quite a nice compliment. You truly are a great inspiration for me on this journey. Thank you for being there and the challenge you have give me to be a temple of God.

  2. What can I say? But, your stories brought similar years of early teen life to my mind. As you also moved to Louisiana in 1959, my step-father moved my family from Savannah, Ga to Gretna, La in the fall of 1959. Grades 6-8 were spent at McDonough 26 School. 9th grade took me to Gretna Jr. High School. I spent grades 10, 11, and half of my senior year at Behrman High School in Algiers, La. As you experienced a weight problem, I did too. It was the operation that removed by appendix that started my weight to fall off. It did so much that, as a Junior in High School, I ran a 4:32 mile. I spent a few days in Alexandria in 7th or 8th grade. My church baseball team (RAs) Royal Ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) from First Baptist Church of Gretna, went to the state playoffs. We got waxed by some other (probably satanic te he) team; maybe 15 to 3. But, I did make an amazing head over heals catch in center field. Our RA leader was a bachelor, a plumber, and an all around great guy. He just turned about age 74. He spent 43 years coaching boys in church and playground league sports. He took our RA team to Abbeville, which may have been close to where you were living at the time. I had a few really wonderful girl friends. I could meet them and their families on the street today, and there would be no embarrassment. Mardi Gras was fun then; I went by myself at age 13; not something that a kid should do today. When my family decided to move back to Savannah, it crushed me. Leaving a “really neat girl friend” was not what I wanted to do. The Fonzie/American Bandstand type of neighborhoods where I lived still ring special memories in my mind. Of course, in 1965, there were friends who went to Vietnam. I would be in the Philippines and in Thailand, in support of the same war, in 70-71 and 73-74. And, yes, not all of my friends returned alive. My return to Savannah is probably the best thing that could have happened to me; Hurricane Katrina didn’t hit Georgia. I’ll end my memory trail without thoughts of Savannah. It is a beautiful city, but was not the Fonzie town that I had in the New Orleans area. And, in spite of me, God also did a Jeremiah 29:11 on me. Yep! He “got me ordained.” My pastorate is one of “unto the least of these,” (Matthew 25:40). As we “older guys” say, “hey Bubba,” it looks like I comandeered your blog. Thanks for the free time. Of course, I use Andy Griffith type sermons from time to time.
    And, as Bob Hope was sing, “Thanks for the memories.” So, this Bubba says thank you, again.
    (please forgive any tupos; I hate to proof read my own writings.) May our Lord Jesus richly bless you. (a side note, I visited the blog of that special lady that you mentioned; it was great!)

  3. What a wonderful post Andy. I can relate to what you are saying as I too have struggled for years with weight issues. I found your comments to be very convicting. So pleased to see your referral to Skye’s blog on faith, food and friends. Skye is such a wonderful friend who has been very supportive of me and very encouraging in so many ways. Best wishes to you in meeting your goals Andy.

  4. Wonderfully honest post Andy and beautifully written. You balance a very hard-hitting personal issue with humour, grace and down-right gritty reality. It’s so good that you have found your way by turning to a healthy lifestyle instead of by diets which never work. Also that you have been so blessed and inspired by Skye and her blog. I can see why, she is a very great blessing, as are you my dear friend. Here’s to the life that God wants us to live 🙂

      • Ahh, thanks so much Andy, I really do mean everything I say, I am extremely impressed with your writing, very engaging and really beautifully written.
        Thanks so much for asking, I am plodding along, not as fast as I would like, but I’m doing it… have a great weekend my dear friend 🙂

  5. As one who still struggles on the weight gain and the self-loathing that it generates, I totally got this – can’t believe it took me so long to read this post. You were totally on the money with how we can actually treat ourselves worse than any bully can.
    I’m still walking the road to a healthy, Godly view of myself and having some falls too. Similarly, I’m on the road of healthy eating and trying to get that essential exercise up to good levels.
    Thanks for a wonderful post and I have checked out the blog you recommended.
    Thanks so much.

    • Sorry I took so long to respond. I know how you feel about this weight loss issue. It’s just time for us to do something about it. Why don’t you join us on the site I referred to? You’ll see the blog is young but very good and will only get better as we encourage each other. Hope to see you there! God bless! Remember, YOU CAN DO THIS! 🙂

  6. I don’t diet either. Simply eating healthier (and smaller portions) and exercising on a regular basis is the only way to go. Congratulations! Keep up the good work! And thanks for visiting my blog.

  7. Andy: Hello new friend. How interesting this article was to me! I lived in Alexandria LA from 1976-1979. I was a 16 year old bride of a young Air Force man. I was 16, he was 21. I absolutely loved it there. The charm and beauty of the south was amazing to me, coming from New Mexico; our color range here is basically hues of brown! I remember living in a “Garage apartment” that was huge, for $67.00 a month. We paid for our gas bill by putting coins in a machine at the bottom of the steps. It had a sun porch that faced the “Mansion,” yes, it was a true Southern mansion on the lot behind us. It was one of the greatest times of my life. I still remember the clickity-clack the sound of the tires made when our car traveled over the cobblestone streets.

    Any, your story of the struggle of being overweight really hit home with me. I was a super skinny kid, but when I hit my mid twenties, the weight began to creep on. So, for over half my life, I have struggled with keeping my weight down. I thought I had finally under control in my mid 40’s, but between my toxic marriage and stress at work, I began to feed my emotions with food, instead of His word.

    Then, after a botched knee surgery and the 12+ that followed, (including an almost 20 month stint in a wheel chair) I weighed as much as 2 normal adult women. Yep! As much as a baby elephant when it is born. I am still struggling to lose the 100+ pounds I had gained. I can not begin to tell you how many self-defacing jokes and comments I have made about myself to make others laugh, while i cried inside.

    The saving grace in my life has been my friends on TT (TapestryTreasures). We all met on an online weight loss site, and bounded over our love for Jesus, and the salvation He has given us.
    For me, it became only about the friendship of these Godly women. So, I am still on the long road of losing the remainder of my weight, while reminding myself that Jesus does indeed love me, even when I feel so unworthy.

    I enjoyed so much the scripture-I have probably read that passage many times without gleaming the understanding I did when you presented it in the expanded version. Jenni, my beloved friend, gave me a copy of ESV for my birthday. I cherish it.

    Andy, What a Blessing that you passed the link to Skye’s blog. I will be checking in later this PM (God willing). I have to catch up on my blog…

    Have a wonderful evening, and may the Lord Bless you,
    Nicolette

  8. Oh Andy, you capture the sheer pain of what can run through a child’s mind and heart. And I’m super happy to know you now. Thanks so much for encouraging me at my blog and for sharing your wisdom. You are a gem!

  9. This is most timely. Thank you for sharing your struggles and His grace in showing you a better way. Thank you for speaking the truth in love and for the link.

  10. I don’t like the word diet Andy, it’s spelled Die-t, and this is a bondage, to save detail here I will leave a link for you below about my life long battle with weight control but what is important is to remember it is not a sin to be overweight, the world may think so but God does not, He sees our hearts, man sees the casing or our flesh, our Temples are not this casing, it is our heart , mind, spirit and Soul, what we feed these is what is really important.

    In Scripture when referring to our bellies or appetite, it is referring to anything we use to replace God, those who indulged in Pagan worship and fornication, often ate till they were sick too, it all went together and so they reaped what they sowed.

    Sadly like you Andy, I was greatly influenced by what others thought was the most important thing and that was how we looked and so this controlled me, Paul tells us not to let anything control us and yes food can also do this if we have it for something other than for nourishment, it does relax us temporarily but has to keep being topped up, only The Lord can heal us of what’s eating us.

    I’m not advocating we be overweight, we need to look after our bodies for health reasons but we don’t buy into the weight loss obsession that makes big money for those who promote it and so it becomes for us a great burden to bear.

    http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/my-ups-and-downs-with-weight-control/

    Christian Love from us both – Anne

    • Hi Anne! I just realized I had not responded to your comment on this post. Please forgive me for that? Thank you for your words of wisdom on this topic. So many have this issue in their life. I don’t know how it is in Aussieland but here it is a literal societal abomination to be overweight. I think we as a nation are gradually coming out of that though I doubt completely. I learned years ago to accept who I am. The pain caused from childhood bullies really never disappears. One of the great things about it is that I can relate to those who have a variety of things that have hurt them. I genuinely appreciate the two of you, and God Bless!
      Andy

      • Hi Andy , no need to apologize, we can all miss a comment, I did recently on my Blog, anyway I know you would not deliberately ignore me or play cruel, emotional games like some people do but just like the barbs with our weight when we were young, they will reap what they sow because while their judging others as being fat they will become obsessed about themselves being fat and loose their peace and feelings of being a person of worth, if they don’t measure up , yes literally!

        As for deleting and ignoring comments, those who do this will worry that others will do it to them deliberately when they comment.

        I will be in touch again Andy, when I’m Blogging again after our Holidays – Blessings Anne

  11. Self mockery is painful. 😦 And people are supposed to be all different sizes. Have you noticed, with children, sometimes it is posture not really excess fat? Everyone needs, especially children, some fat, but if one feels so bad, then posture shows it, and the slumping makes the compressed middle bulge out. Even skinny skinny folk have that problem. Then as adults that is worsened with water retention (for all sorts of reasons … including, ironically, dehydration) , but if one can force themselves to stand and straight as possible, THEN look in the mirror, stand straight as possible, THEN say “good morning” the illusion of the slumping depression is dispelled. In your mind, if you can raise the center of gravity to your shoulders you will find movement and appearance enhanced. There are, of course some activities that require the center of gravity to be lower, at about hip level, but for just moving around ….. dancing ….. shoulders is about right.

    Your writing is so beautifully done that I almost didn’t reply beyond a acknowledging your wonderful narrative. Which it is. Wonderful. Poignant. Thank you. — Bear

  12. So nice to meet you Bear! Thanks for such an informative comment, thoughts I wish I’d known years ago. Thank you, too, for your lovely comment on my writing. God bless!
    Andy

  13. Andy, You touched a nerve for many of us. I remember hating those husky-sized jeans, too! The worst for me was the fact that I could never match up my waist size with my height – the jeans were always too long and had to be rolled up at the ankles, shouting to all that I was a “fatso.” Thanks for a great article. And by the way, this would preach! Your brother, Mo

    • I wish I could write like you and use your name. All I can say is WoW! It is so nice to find you have missed me 🙂 I am in the process now of finalizing my next post. To let you know I have been in Iowa, Indiana and Ohio the last several weeks visiting friends and family. I am no good at using a laptop to write so I had to wait until I returned home. I must say a great big THANK YOU for missing! God Bless you my friend!
      Andy

  14. I could relate to so much of your post. So many already have low self esteem from abuse and bullying and the weight issues compound the problem. Thanks for sharing this post.

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