A chewing tobacco habit helped me lose weight.
|This is me before the weight loss. |
Wait! It's not what you're thinking. I'll explain.
I'm a teacher. One morning as class was starting, I noticed one of my teenage students walk past with a big wad of something stuffed in his lower lip. "John, wait!" I called as I stared intently at the bulge. "What's that in your mouth?"
His eyes grew big, and he stammered, "Uh … uh … "
"Are you chewing tobacco?"
"Yes, Ma'am," he said as he looked down, shuffling his feet, his hands clenched in his pockets.
John was my favorite student, a boy with a heart as big as Texas and as tender as a teddy bear's. He had confided in me weeks earlier that he felt God calling him to be a preacher. But I had watched him struggle, trying to be like the other boys in the class. He wanted to be cool, but the Holy Spirit wouldn't let him. While the other boys sinned with relish, John was tormented by his struggles and ashamed of his stumbling. Trying to live in two worlds wasn't working for him.
"Miss Gail, I know it's wrong to dip, but I only do it every once in a while. And all the other guys do it!"
I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what I thought: If they jumped off the cliff, would you jump, too? Instead, I prayed, "God, please show me how to help this young man. He's going to do great things for you, but he's headed down the wrong roads. Show me how I can be helpful."
Kicking the habit
Over the next weeks, I caught him with a "pinch" in his lip several times and always called him on it. He finally broke down and told me, "Miss Gail, I just love to dip. I love the taste of it, and I love to spit. I know it's wrong and everything, but I've tried to stop and I just can't." His pleading almost convinced me there was no hope.
His honesty poignantly expressed the struggle going on in my own life. Like him, I was addicted—not to tobacco, but to overeating. I was 100 pounds overweight.
God, please show me how to break my own addiction so I can help John, I prayed silently as we stood face to face. Then I had an idea …
"John, give me your chewing tobacco." I commanded.
He looked at me with shock. "What for?"
"Just give it to me. I'll explain later," I said, holding out my hand. Reluctantly, he placed it in my palm with a puzzled look on his face.
That night, I set the pack of chewing tobacco on my kitchen counter and prayed, "God, I know you can help me overcome my addiction. I don't know how. But I'm asking you to do it for me, so that John will see your power to help and believe it for himself."
The chewing tobacco on my kitchen counter daily reminded me to pray, "God, please do for me what I cannot do for myself." When I was tempted to overeat, I prayed, "Help me, God!" He answered every prayer.
Not my willpower, but God's
For the first time, I realized that when I'd tried to lose weight in the past, I'd depended on my own willpower. It never worked for long. I had just wanted to lose weight—I didn't want to change. But this time, God changed me. He gave me the strength to plan ahead by having good foods to eat, and to prepare lunches so I wouldn't hit the fast-food places. I also learned to love foods that I had previously shunned. The weight came off slowly but steadily, and I began to look and feel like a new woman.
To date, I have lost a total of 85 pounds and six dress sizes. It's been amazing to see God change life-long habits and reshape my mind and body.
Naturally, friends and family who visited my kitchen were curious about the pack of chewing tobacco on the counter. I had plenty of opportunities to share John's dipping problem and my prayers that we'd overcome our addictions.
In the past I'd never understood the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13, NASB). But that verse became very real during the months that God began to work in me. To date, I have lost a total of 85 pounds and six dress sizes. I can honestly say I have not struggled, or suffered, or felt sorry for myself as I had in the past. It's been amazing to see God work in me to change life-long habits and reshape my mind and body. When people ask me how I did it, I tell them about God's power.
|Me - after losing 90 pounds! |
When John noticed I was shrinking, I told him how his struggle had spurred me on to seek God's help for my own addiction. I recounted how his pack of chewing tobacco played a part in my weight loss. He smiled from ear to ear, but then hung his head and asked me to keep praying for him. I assured him I would.
My prayer is that he will not take as many years to realize this simple truth that I am learning: "I will glory in my weakness, for when I am weak, He is made strong." I still keep his pack of chewing tobacco in my kitchen as a reminder to pray for us daily.
Gail G. Golden is a writer living in Port St. John, Florida.Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian magazine.
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