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Share Your Story: Sara Richison

“I’m scared you’re not going to live long enough to see our grandchildren”, is one of the hardest and most eye opening statements I have ever heard - especially when it was my husband who had to say it to me. Growing up I was always “bigger” than the other girls, but because I was in sports I was lean and always in shape. When I quit sports my senior year of high school, I fell into addiction. I drank a lot and leaned on smoking to get me through the tough seasons of my life. At the age of 19, I was living on my own in a house that if the wind blew just right, it may have fallen down completely, drinking all day every day, but I was functioning enough to work two jobs. One day I decided that I no longer wanted to live that way and decided to sober up and move to Oklahoma to go to a Christian university, so that I could pursue my dream in counseling. As soon as I stepped foot on that campus I was sober and proudly believed I was addiction free.

In most ways I flourished at SCU, and I loved my life. I worked a full time job, I was taking a full load of classes every semester, and I was the Student Chaplain for 2 of the 4 years I was there. I was extremely stressed, but I was pursuing my dream, and I would always outwardly express that I had learned to lean on God during that time of my life. See, when people think of addiction, they think of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or the “extreme” sins of this world. Not many people think about food. I gained well over 80-100 pounds when I got away from alcohol and tobacco. I did not understand at the time that I just transferred my addiction from chemicals to food. Little did I know that I was killing myself faster through food than I would have with alcohol, but I was sober, so what I was doing was okay.

Fast forward to August of 2019, I was married, had a daughter, still pursuing my dreams, and outwardly saying that I relied on God … and I weighed 340 pounds. I was standing in the kitchen with my husband when he said, “I’m scared you are not going to live long enough to see our grandchildren”. My whole being was shook in that moment. How can I fix this? How in the world am I going to lose 160 pounds? I have gone too far… there’s no way I can change. These are the lies that the enemy wants you to believe with any issue that you may be having in your life. Never believe the lies “it’s too late” or “I have gone too far”.

Not only is American culture surrounded by food, but the Christian culture has gladly joined in on that. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus loved to fellowship and break bread with his disciples, but just like anything else in life there has to be balance. The largest sin within the church that is not talked about is gluttony. Why is it that a large majority of Christians, even pastors, are morbidly obese? Food has become more than fellowship, it has become comfort. Food has become an idol for so many people. It has become an idol that Satan is using to slowly kill people one by one.

There is a huge self-love movement that is going on all around the world. I have always been an advocate for preaching self-love and that God loves us as we are. Did God love me when I was 340 pounds? Absolutely. However, food had become my idol and food is what took the place of my peace and comfort that was supposed to come from the Lord. Think about it, if I truly loved myself, why was I silently killing myself? True self-love is striving to be the best me I can be. That includes my mental, spiritual, and physical state. As I sit here typing this, I am still learning to not lean on any type of addiction in my life. I have lost 85 pounds so far, and I still have a long road ahead.

It’s not easy, and no one ever said it would be. There comes a time that you and I have to make the choice to not allow any substance or idol to control us. I have to look to God for my peace. I have to look to God for comfort. He is the one thing that I can become addicted to, and not suffer and/or die from it. He is also the only addiction that will actually fill that void that we so desperately try to fill every single day. I challenge you to search deep within yourself and recognize what it is that you’re using for comfort and peace. Give God that chance to reveal in you what you need to let go of. Give God the chance to fill that void that you have been desperately trying to fill yourself, and watch him show up and show off. Update: Since writing and submitting her story, Sara has now lost 100 lbs! I am so incredibly proud of my friend and how she is paving the way for others through her own personal journey!