Are you eating because you're lonely?

As the week winds down, I wanted to bring up a difficult topic:  Loneliness.  Many women that I meet who struggle with binging or even moderate overeating do this when they are alone . . . in secret . . . as a substitute to relationship.  Personally, I never binged in front of anyone! When I ate my way up to 220 pounds back in 2005/2006, it was because I felt incredibly empty inside.  I was in a new city, without good friends, in a mega-church where I felt like the connections were really surface-level, working a job I hated.

So, at the end of the day, food was my friend. I'd sit down with a large pizza and a box of donuts and devour them all.  Afterwards, I'd feel like such a failure.  I felt weak, gross, unloveable, and lonely.  It was a cycle that perpetuated itself, because the more I binged, the more unloveable I felt, the more I needed to fill that emptiness inside me, the more I looked to food, and the cycle continued.

God, in His grace, snapped me out of the self-destructive cycle.  He put in my heart a vision of who I was in His eyes (beautiful, lovely, LOVED), and that made all the difference.  When I felt that RELATIONSHIP with Him, that He cared about me, that He was with me even if I couldn't physically see Him, I didn't need to fill that relationship void with food.

And yet, here I am, nearly a decade later, still single, still an only child, still sometimes quite lonely at the end of the day or week.  If you feel like this sometimes, too, I understand.  We can have a strong relationship with God and still yearn for human companionship.  And Satan will try to get us to fill that longing with all sorts of things that are destructive to us, be it overconsumption of food, alcohol, sex, or even just mindless things like incessant reality-TV-watching!

So, how can we combat the feelings of loneliness without turning to coping mechanisms that may soothe us in the short term but will ultimately damage us?

God's word!  Listen, the Bible is God's instruction which He has kept pure for you!  We can never reach the end of the insights, encouragement, and joy that we can receive as the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the character of God while we read His word.  Since I have made daily time in the Bible a priority, God has been so faithful to bless that time by giving me new, fresh understanding of His grace to and love for me.  That time in the Word is a sweet, sweet time of refreshment and solace.

And this past week, He gave me a beautiful insight into His heart for the lonely.

Psalm 68:6 says: "God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."

I've read that verse many times before, but it never struck me before in the way that it did this week. I guess I was always focused on the singing and the sun-scorched land.  But the morning of May 14, 2016, God pressed on my heart that He does not have loneliness in store for His children.  He places the lonely in families!  What beautiful hope!

Now, maybe the family won't look exactly like you expected. It might not necessarily be a spouse with 2.5 kids in a cute suburban house with a white picket fence.  But He is God, and He is GOOD, and if you are lonely, He will set you in a family.  His Word says so.  If you trust in Christ for salvation, you already have a spiritual family!  Maybe now is the time to strengthen those bonds, to get a little bit outside your comfort zone, and invite someone over for coffee after church.  Maybe someone is going to get outside of his or her comfort zone for YOU this week!

I'm not sure exactly what it's going to look like, but in those moments when I feel lonely, I take great comfort in knowing that God has a family for me, be it earthly or spiritual, and that as alone as I may feel, I never am.  I don't need to reach for that box of cookies to soothe my aching heart. I need His love and I need Him to strengthen my faith in His promises.  

Getting in the Word daily isn't easy. It's a discipline.  Not every day is filled with an insight like I had on May 14. Some days I read and I'm like "yeah, okay, I didn't really get much out of that."  But GOD (two of the best words in the English language - "BUT GOD") is eternally faithful to make Himself known to those who desire to know and serve Him.  So be encouraged if you're struggling to have that daily time in His word, that He WILL bless you through that. Press on and find His sweet rest.

I sincerely hope that this has encouraged you!  Please consider sharing with someone who may need this message.  And leave a comment as to how God has been speaking to YOU through His Word.

Be so blessed,

Sara Anna