“And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,” Mark 9:47
Well I am happy to report that I do still have both my eyes. However, I only have 1/3 of my stomach!! On January 14th, 2016 I had weight loss surgery, opting for the gastric sleeve rather than gastric bypass. Essentially, 2/3 of my stomach was torn out of my body and thrown away. Let me give you a little history so you can make sense of why I had to go to this extreme.
As mentioned in my testimony About Me at the age of 5 I was introduced to disordered sexual play by a boy in the neighborhood. After this happen sin entered my life in the form of confusion, fear, anxiety and yes disordered eating. I remember stealing cookies from the kitchen when my mom wasn’t looking and hiding behind the couch and eating them all. And eating them quickly so I did not get caught. I remember sneaking into the pantry and cracking open a jar of canned pickles and eating them all. I knew intrinsically that what I was doing was wrong but I couldn’t stop and even to this day I struggle. I think this is the most deep seated disorder I have in my life as it is one that remains to this day, even after having bariatric surgery. I have received prayer countless amounts of time to be freed from the damage that occurred when I was 5 years old. The Lord is always faithful and has healed me to a certain degree. It has been a gradual healing done in degrees as I was ready and the Lord has not finished the healing process yet.
When my referral went in for bariatric surgery 2 years before my actual surgery date I was 273 pounds, my heaviest weight ever. I am only 5’3″ so at 273 pounds I was huge (as you can see by my before picture above in which I was 230 pounds), unhealthy and in pain all the time. I was literally eating myself to death. I have always been an active and athletic person but once I hit a certain weight I could not even be active anymore and so my situation was critical. The sins of gluttony and sloth were going to be my destruction and I felt lost and afraid. So I took Mark 9:47 literally and to heart and I thought well my stomach is causing me to sin and is leading to my destruction so why don’t I get it taken out? And so I got my family doctor to put in a referral for bariatric surgery.
It took me only 9 months after surgery to get to my goal weight of 150 pounds. I am a very muscular person so figured I would never be a tiny thing weighing 120 pounds. I’ve been around 150 pounds, give or take 5 pounds, for 1 1/2 years and physically it feels amazing. For more about my weight loss story you can watch the two videos I’ve added below showing me before surgery and after losing all the weight. All my videos can be found on YouTube (Rebecca Dawn Weight Loss Surgery Journey).
I thought that after losing all the weight all my problems would be gone. Oh was I wrong!! Sure I felt physically great, although there are many side affects that come with gastric sleeve surgery, as the Lord’s healing is the only healing that does not have negative side effects. I experienced nausea, heartburn, throwing up, indigestion, and dizziness on a consistent basis. In my mind it was all worth it (and still is) as I was relishing in my new body. A body I had never had before because even as a child and youth I was chubby (it wasn’t until after having children that I skyrocketed into the two hundreds). I became obsessed with my body, with how I looked, with exercise, with buying a new excessively large wardrobe, etc. (and my new 1/4 size stomach took care of the eating for the time being). I became obsessed with what others thought and with getting plastic surgery to remove excess skin as I was still not 100% happy with my body. I wanted to be 20 again but at 150 pounds. (140 pounds if you take into consideration that I have about 10 pounds of excess skin. I would tell this to myself and others to feel even better about myself and to make myself look better to others). I started wanting to go out more and be social. I wanted to go for dates with Rob to the pub to play billiards and to the bar to dance. I started drinking alcohol more. I went from drinking once a year to drinking once a month and then to once a week. Thank God it stopped at once a week (before I realized what was happening) and did not become once a day and then all day. This is the slippery slope into alcoholism and I did not even realize it was happening as I was just enjoying my new body, my new life, and having fun. I have never struggled with alcohol use before and so I was unaware how devious and conniving alcohol can be. Although, there is more alcoholism than not in my family so I knew I had to be careful.
I had been down this road of sin in my past so I recognized it and shut it down before it got too out of control but wow at 41 years old I so easily was being drawn back into the life I led in my 20’s. My eyes and heart even started to wander away from my husband, away from my marriage. I, for the first time in my marriage, was flirting again and enjoying the attention from men I was getting. Again thank God I did not fall into mortal sin in this area. I recognized it, battled with it, and ultimately the Lord opened my eyes in a very deep and real way the destruction that the sin of adultery would cause. Devastation and destruction to my marriage, my husband, our children, our stability for the future, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. And the scandal it would cause in our church community and in the community as a whole. Oh the width and depth of the destruction that adultery and divorce causes is unfathomable. We can not even comprehend or see fully the damage. It is too big for our puny little minds to contain. And I was one millimeter away from being the cause of all this damage and destruction. But the Lord held me tight in His arms and He protected me from harm. He was like the Sheppard who left the 99 to bring the one lost sheep, me, back to the fold. Oh how gracious, merciful and loving our Lord is!! He never gives me more than I can handle. For He gives me the grace to be strong and persevere through trails, temptations, and tribulations.
Ok I got side tracked. Back to what I was saying about weight loss surgery. I wasn’t done yet. So there I was almost worse off after the surgery, in a lot of ways, than I was before the surgery. And even though I had lost all the weight, the reason I ate in a disordered way was not healed. I continued to eat in a disordered way after surgery just not to the same extent because I couldn’t physically do it. However, I would almost always choose foods that were unhealthy over foods that were and would eat too much of those unhealthy foods. I was very, very active during this time so did not gain weight but had fear and anxiety every day that I would. Living with that fear everyday, weighing myself everyday, feeling guilt and fear every time I ate something I should not have or went over my calorie allotment for the day, was all consuming. I recognize now that surgery was not the answer. In fact, having the surgery and losing all the weight led to even more and bigger problems. Sure I was playing baseball again, could cross my legs, go for bike rides with my children, fit into some of my sisters clothes, but was I really happy? Happy in the eyes of the world, sure, but the worlds expectations of happiness are below par. In the eyes of God was I happy? NO!! He had so much more for me and He knew the path I was on was a path to utter destruction. Jesus was and is the answer. The issue was not me eating too much or not exercising. These were symptoms of the underlying sins of gluttony and sloth that were born out of a trauma from my childhood. A trauma that was caused when sin and the effects of sin entered my life. Satan tries so hard to destroy us. But God will not allow it. He takes what Satan tries to destroy and He turns it into good. Maybe not right away but some day He will. He takes us down paths where all things that happen to us will be for our good. God doesn’t want bad things to happen to us but because we live in a fallen and sinful world they do. What God does want and what he does do is ensure that good will come from these traumas, disappointments, and hurts in our lives. “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28.
I no longer struggle with sloth but I know I could easily slip back into it if I become lazy with my exercise. At this point in my journey I have cut back on some of the exercise I was doing. I used to walk 3 days a week, do yoga 3 days a week and then do weights and cardio 3 times a week as well. This was becoming hard to maintain so now I walk 3 days a week and do yoga 2 to 3 days a week. This is the right path in conquering sloth in my life. I need to stay active and be diligent and self-disciplined in maintaining daily exercise. This past lent the Lord called me to fast and fast more than I ever have fasted before. He made it clear that the stronghold of gluttony in my life will only be broken through fasting and prayer. “Jesus told them, “This kind of bad spirit can come out only by prayer and fasting” Mark 9:29. I learn and practice self-discipline and the virtues prudence and temperance in the school of fasting and abstinence. The Lord has called me to even more fasting after Lent and I know deep down that this will be my life from now on. I need to fast for the rest of my life for this I am certain. Fasting and praying are absolutely necessary for the spiritual journey. A good book on fasting that I have read a few times is, God’s Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis. This book was “first published in 1968, God’s Chosen Fast has long been considered the essential guide to biblical fasting, a vital yet often neglected practice. With simplicity and straightforwardness, Arthur Wallis shares what the Bible says about fasting. It is not merely a how-to manual, but a timeless reference that explains the purpose of fasting, details accounts of fasting in the Bible, and includes a comprehensive biblical index. God’s Chosen Fast will assist believers who desire to grow closer to God.” To purchase this book click on the link provided. I have also started a group in our parish called Intercessors United, where we fast and pray as a group for the intentions of the Pope, the world, our own parish and the intentions in our own hearts.
To read about my weight loss journey from the start join my group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/508178986005452/
below are some pics of me since I have lost the weight
Do you struggle with the sins of sloth and gluttony (food, alcohol, shopping, etc.)? Do you fast and pray? Have you had weight loss surgery? Please share your ideas and thought.
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