Hungry for God

The trouble with sin is that it is so darn invisible. Sins are like calories - they are so easy to put on. On my wedding day 33 years ago, I was a size 9. And today, like most people my age, I occasionally glance at my reflection in the mirror and say to myself: Ugghh!

Rarely did I stop long enough to ponder the transformation from cute young woman to larger than life. I guess, like for many of us, the pounds come on so gradually that we do not allow our minds to comprehend the enormity of the situation until we reach a crisis or something forces our hand.

For some of us, it may be a blood test that shows an impending heart attack. For others, a heart attack might have been the warning.

For some it may be a loss of energy and a sluggish feeling, a nagging that says something is unhealthy here.

For some, it may be a trauma of some sort - such as a spouse who could no longer deal with the change in the partner's appearance so they walk out the door.

For me, the pounds came on one at a time, sneaking onto my torso stealthily. And I looked the other way because I thought food was my friend. Food dulled the pain. Food fed the loneliness. Food made me happy. Food filled up the emptiness. Food was my drug.

Each of us deals with reality in different ways. Sometimes we may get a fleeting glimpse of a skinny future or a spark of inspiration that causes us to try a fad diet, desperate to regain our original size.

Others may join a gym or buy all the latest equipment only to lose interest in a relatively short time.

But most of us know deep down it is wrong to pack on the pounds. It is lazy to eat rather than deal with the emotional turmoil in our lives. We know that it is a destructive pattern, but, speaking for myself, I felt powerless. My addiction to food and the feelings it amnestied was stronger than me.

Every single time I tried to deal with the monster (addiction) I failed. Every weight-loss program I tried I failed. Every exercise system I tried I failed. I could do just about anything for two weeks perfectly, then the monster would speak and my resolve would weaken. Then, the part I dreaded the most - the lying - would begin.

I would begin a weight-loss plan with the motto, "I don't care what I eat as long as I look good." But within two to three weeks I would whimper, "I don't care what I look like as long as I eat well."

I would secretly harbor the lie: "I will eat this stuff now until I am skinny, then I will eat whatever I want." As soon as I heard the lying begin, I knew I was doomed.

God says: "The truth will set you free." The truth! That is what I was missing.

Then I became a member of a Eucharistic Apostle of The Divine Mercy (EADM) prayer cenacle, and slowly and gradually things began to change. As I studied the words of Jesus, I began to see the world through God, My Father's, eyes.

On those pages, I discovered His mercy. I began to pray daily from the Diary of St. Faustina. Those words would wash over me and sink into my heart, then my brain and, lastly, my flesh. And the more I listened to Christ's litany of love, His blessed assurance and His unconditional acceptance, the more I felt whole.

Then I saw his love in the other cenacle members. I wanted to trust them, but I was so afraid their love would not last, so afraid I would fail and they would give up on me.

It has been nearly four years since I joined the cenacle. I still consider myself a student of mercy, yet I realize His mercy and love are penetrating my heart and my soul. God is truly immersing me in His ocean of mercy. And all I want to do is swim forever in the enormity of His love.

As the reality of God's mercy hit me, I realized I didn't need my old friend (who I now know was NEVER a friend). Jesus is now dealing with my loneliness, frustration, guilt, and misery. Jesus is now my real food.

The Divine Physician began ministering to my broken and wounded spirit. A profound change was taking place. I started to feel loved. Then I became certain. The truth was setting me free, and I began to realize I was worth something because God loves me without limit, without rash judgment.

And my cenacle prayer partners were there with me, too. Jesus in the flesh, loving me even when I made mistakes or wanted to run.

I began to realize I need to love myself as Jesus and others were loving me. And even though I was afraid of my past mistakes and failures, this time I felt a quiet assurance that I could let go of my self-destructive feelings and believe.

I have not reached my weight-loss goal, but I KNOW I will. Why? Because a person who has been set free has no desire to go back to that prison. He who loves will not kill.

Because of love, I have chosen mercy over condemnation and life over death. And instead of leaning on my own knowledge and strength, I am leaning on the everlasting arm of God. The same God who delivered me from bondage, fear, self doubt, and weakness has empowered me with knowledge of His Will, peace, security, confidence, and strength. He traded my sorrows for His joy. He traded my emptiness for His grace.

Love heals, sin destroys. Sins are like calories: They slowly creep up on us. If we could see the ugliness the weight of them causes, we would realize we have to deal with them. Whatever sin you are dealing with, rest assured that God took it to the cross. There is no need to carry the weight and burden of it any longer. You have to admit the sin (as you have to admit when overweight), confess it and let Jesus cleanse it by His Sacrament of Reconciliation. "I absolve you of your sins" - this is the firm and true act of Jesus through His representative the priest.

For me it will take a long time and much effort to be free of this heavy flesh. But our sins are washed clean when we confess them to God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the firm purpose of amendment to truly try not to fall into the occasion of sin again (you just have to stay away from what brings on the weight - so, too, stay away from what brings one into sin).

For the sake of your soul, mind, body, and spirit, get real with God today. Happy Journey!

Joley Billa is a lay evangelist for Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy.

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