I cannot recount the number of times I’ve stamped my foot (figuratively and literally) over the notion that I must have boundaries when it comes to food.
If I choose to look at my boundaries like they are unfair, unfun, or temporary, I probably won’t keep them very long. In fact, I’ll resent them.
In order to thrive within my boundaries, I must change the way I view them.
That begins by admitting I need them in the first place.
The first sign we need a boundary is the evidence of a “thorn in the flesh“. And no, I’m not talking about your kids driving you crazy or that co-worker hell-bent on making your life miserable. Although, God may certainly use them to work on your areas of weakness (and mine).
“The Jones’s” don’t have it all or have it all together any more than you do. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has a weakness… a thorn. So, there is no point in yelling, “it’s not fair! Suzie Q. Jones doesn’t have to follow food boundaries!” While it may be true that “Suzie” doesn’t struggle with food, I guarantee you she struggles with something. So, trading places with her wouldn’t give you a thorn-free life.
A thorn is something God allows us to struggle with to teach us to rely on His strength and not our own. You may even think your side is riddled with thorns. Yeah, we can have more than one.
Anyway, It’s that thing (or things) we swear we’ll never be able to get over or give up. Maybe you’ve resolved, “this is just who I am, I can’t help it.”
This, my friends, is a lie. If you are a child of God, you are not a weak, defeated being. Yes, you may choose to live like one, but that is not who you are in Christ.
I have begged God many times to take my food related issues from me. They have tormented me for years. The Bible tells us that Paul asked God to take his “thorn” three times, but God said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
He leaves these thorns. Why? Because His power is revealed through our dependance on Him to live in victory with the thorn still protruding from our flesh. At some point, like Paul, we need to stop asking God to take away the thorn and start asking Him to help us glorify Him despite it.
Living in victory with a constant thorn in the flesh usually means we need boundaries to keep our flesh in check.
Ok, so, I admit I might need some food boundaries, but I could still be miserable (grumble, grumble) if I don’t change how I view them.
The major benefit of food boundaries is their uncanny knack for revealing when we’re relying on food to help us with our problems instead of turning to God. Boundaries say, “that’s far enough, take it up with God.”
Also, boundaries aren’t easy to keep, so we must rely on God’s strength and not our own to be consistent. We do this by renewing our mind and as a result, He transforms our thoughts about the boundaries.
Another benefit to food boundaries is more obvious. We will release weight if we aren’t stuffing our faces every time we’re sad, mad, frustrated, worried, happy, vacationing, bored, tempted, procrastinating… and this list could go on for a while.
Overeating (or undereating) harms us. When we misuse food, we hurt our bodies because excess weight does all kinds of damage. Likewise, starving ourselves deteriorates our physical being.
When we misuse food, we feel guilty and ashamed that we “did it again”. This hurts our mental stability and invites more lies into our minds.
But worst of all, misusing food results from using food to “solve” our problems instead of turning to God for help. This hurts our relationship with the Lord and stifles the very thing we need most to live victoriously… the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, breaking our boundaries is not a reward. It is a self-induced punishment. Boundaries are beneficial.
I love the verse “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit, is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28 NKJV).
Simply put, I rely on God to help me keep my boundaries and He uses those boundaries to protect me from the attacks of the enemy.
When the enemy tries to tell me I’m not working hard enough, I can say with confidence, “NO, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I have kept my boundaries today! I’m doing my part.”
Or maybe he tries the approach of, “You’ve got to do something about all that flab.” He makes it sound so urgent, like I can do something radical in the next five minutes to remove it all. Which of course is a lie. Unfortunately, this lie can trigger my old “starve yourself skinny” reaction if I’m not protected.
In these moments, keeping my boundaries gives me the guts to say, “I AM doing something about it! I’m renewing my mind and God is giving me the strength to live within my boundaries. I am confident He will bring about the results in His time. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask or imagine! Don’t you dare call me flabby again, I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”
Our boundaries also protect us from “morning after regret”. Keeping them allows me to start the day with victory oozing out of every pore instead of whatever I overate the night before. Major win!
When I go through an entire day and manage to keep my boundaries, there is a confidence that grows. God knows this, but so does the enemy.
God wants that confidence to build my faith in Him, but the enemy wants to twist it into the lie of self-reliance.
We must renew our minds daily because we don’t want to release all the weight only to return to relying on our own strength during the process. We want to keep our eyes on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith“.
When we make a practice of renewing our minds in regard to our boundaries, we cannot help but grow in the confidence of God’s ability and promise to transform us.
In addition, when we consistently keep them, we are less likely to constantly ditch them for the next greatest and latest thing to come on the market promising results. We are confident we’re on the path God has for us, which motivates us to stay consistent.
These are some of the reasons I need boundaries. Sometimes just knowing why helps change my attitude about difficult things. And, if I allow God to change my perspective about needing boundaries, even better.