Lent is a season of addition by subtraction (thanks to my friend Erik Willits for that phrase). We take something away in order to be filled with God. Even though we don’t practice Lent officially in the evangelical church, I feel like I’ve been in that mode for half a year. I made a challenge last August to lose weight and since then I’ve lost almost 50 pounds. Over that time I’ve seen the hold food had over me slowly loosen it’s grip.

My love hate relationship with food has been around my whole life. Butter was the condiment of choice in our household. I was always a big kid. In elementary school I had to shed pounds just to play football with kids a year or two older. Instead of practicing, I would be sent to run laps so I could drop weight. In high school I was a lineman on the football team, so I could eat whatever I wanted. It was when I went off to college that my weight started to creep.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never felt super overweight. I could always justify my size because I had a lot of muscle. It was the effects of my love affair with food that got to me. I started snoring badly, much to my wife’s displeasure. It was embarrassing when students in our youth group didn’t want to sleep in a cabin with me because of it. I played it off jokingly (like many youth pastors do), but underneath it all I felt ashamed. I also saw how I changed during youth events when food was involved. I would get irritated at students if I thought they took took much food and I wasn’t going to get enough. I would serve myself first because as a leader “I deserved it.” I’m ashamed to say that at times I cared more about getting another slice of pizza than having a conversation with a students.

When my wife challenged me to start losing weight I thought purely about the physical benefits to me. I would look better, snore less and be around longer for her. Thankfully, there has been a Spiritual aspect to the weight loss that I hadn’t anticipated:

1. I’ve seen that I don’t need an abundance of food to make me satisfied. I can live on less if my treasure is in enjoying Christ throughout my day. Jesus said, “Man truly doesn’t live on bread alone.” I’ve seen Him sustain me on far less than I thought was necessary for my survival and I’m a more trusting person because of it. God is enough for me today and I trust that He will be enough for me tomorrow.

2. I’ve experienced that God’s love for me doesn’t rise and fall with the scale. There are days when I work really hard, eat right and still gain weight. You know what? God’s love for me isn’t changed one bit. He treasures me because I am HIS in Christ. I can feel good about myself based on a number but God’s grace isn’t a number. It’s immeasurable.

3. I can enjoy a meal without feeling guilty. Paul reminds us in Romans 14 that the kingdom of God isn’t about eating or drinking. It’s about peace, joy and righteousness. I’m not better than anyone else because I’ve dropped a few pounds. I’m not on a crusade trying to make all my friends guilty for having a burger. Whether I eat or fast, it is to the enjoyment of my Creator who made me to enjoy life.

Is there something in your life right now that has a grip on you? What would it look like if you let go of it?