An excerpt from Sandra’s book, Smile at the Future – Defy Your Eating Disorder and Discover Your True Design

Have you ever felt like God’s will and your will are at odds with each other?

Anyone who walks with God can doubt whether they’re on the same page as God. When you have an eating disorder, it goes deeper than a doubt as to if you’re on the same page with God. It’s a fact that the concern for food, weight, and appearance is different from God’s concern to make every person whole on the inside through reconciliation to Himself through His Son.

When there’s a resistance in us toward what God’s focus is, there is an invitation to lean in and be curious about what dictates our desires.

It could be that our will has become dictated and pushed down in the name of what our abusive boyfriend wants, what our parents want or even in the name of what we think God and our church wants.

We can listen to so many voices that claim what the right thing to do is, that we suddenly forget to listen to the still small voice within.

When we neglect listening to God and the desires that He has put within us, we can end up in two ditches described in the parable of the two sons. Let’s look at their different answers to the father about working in the vineyard. The father is a representation of God and the vineyard is a representation of the Kingdom of God:

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Matthew 21:28-31 NIV

On the surface, the answer of the son who says yes to his dad seems more appropriate, right? Later in the parable, we find out he ends up not doing what’s asked of him. What he’s actually full of on the inside ends up manifesting. The will to follow through on his yes ran out because it was not a wholehearted yes from the beginning. He might have said yes because of fear of conflict, people pleasing or a sense of obligation. What’s revealed nonetheless is his inner no.

As Ignatius puts it: Everything the soul does not want is temporary.

In other words, it doesn’t work to fake it. Eventually, your real opinion will come out in your attitude.

Both of the sons are divided in their responses. Their underlying responses end up leading them.

The parable ends by concluding that our Heavenly Father would rather have a no from us than a yes if that’s where we’re at. If we cannot honestly and wholeheartedly tell him yes, that’s okay. He would rather take us on a process than force, demand, expect or assume a yes from us.

Does this take the pressure off in your relationship with Jesus? I know it did for me. He wants me to be His daughter, not His slave. His companion, not His ally.

Imagine a relationship with someone in which your will is strangled and it’s only one of you who gets your will and your way. That wouldn’t be a flourishing relationship, right? But sometimes we think that is what God wants concerning an eating disorder—that He wants to strangle our will and make it a slave to His.

Rather, the parable shows us that God wants wholeheartedness. He is not afraid of our will being in process to gain an undivided heart towards Him (see Ezekiel 11:19 NIV).

He wants me to be His daughter, not His slave

An undivided heart is the goal. Jesus asks simple questions in the process: “Where do you live? Where are you? What do you want?” (see Mark 10:51; John 1:38). He is interested in what you want! He wants to locate you before He lifts you higher.

I believe that honest reflection is a great place to start. “Why do I will and want this? Why do I not want this?” If we discover through listening to our will that all we want is for the sake of being comfortable, we have to be willing to press through the resistance. We need to go from seeking comfort to being challenged: “[…]but to those who insist on getting their own way and take the path of least resistance, Fire!” (Romans 2:5-8 MSG).

In terms of an eating disorder, our preferred way would be instant deliverance from it. That’s the path of least resistance. However, God’s way is oftentimes to take us through. So many things get weeded out in the process so not only our healing and freedom is secured, but our character is strengthened also.

I’m thankful for Kingdom convictions, which beckon me to live life differently. Courageously. To not shy away from the hard and to press through resistance to get to wholeheartedness. As we labor to find out and develop what our convictions are, life becomes a bit easier to navigate when each decision has a foundation.

As I mature, we (the Lord and I) hear each other out. “Lord, what do you want my next step to be?”

As we stay in His Word, His Word will penetrate us, and our yes to Him can grow into a likewise big yes back to God and His will. Rather than pursuing our will, we surrender to His. Instead of trying to fill our lives with all that we want, we empty our lives to make a difference in the lives of others.

In conclusion, be in contact with your will. Listen to what you will in life. Be okay with your yes or your no being in a process. Be assured that God’s love will not fail you. His love holds the final victory in Jesus.

Put this into practice

If you’re not in contact with your will, I want to help you unlock it:

Firstly, think about an area in your life where you sense a tension where you’re unsure if it’s your desire and/or God’s will. As you think about that area of tension, listen to your body’s signals. Your emotions are connected to your body! That means that your body will tell you the truth about what’s happening in your emotions. Does your body feel tired, tense or energetic when thinking about that scenario you’re turning over in your mind? I encourage you to write out your answers to the following questions:

  • How do I look at God?
  • How does God look at me?
  • What awakes deep joy within me?
  • What awakes my resistance?
  • Why don’t I want it? (the area you’re thinking about)

When your future seems lost

Fear of the future

Have you ever felt like the future you long to step into is a million miles away?

As I entered month after month of job hunting in the midst of the Corona pandemic, I felt my future was lost.

The fog surrounding an uncertain future can do the following to us: it can make us have mood swings, feel incompetent, doubtful, skeptic, indecisive, depressive and fearful. Ultimately, it can create an actual crisis in our lives.

I knew the future would become my present because that's the nature of time.

I just didn't know if that future would be good. The 'in-between' felt like God had lost my address at times. To loose expectation in God is a dark place to live.

King David knew the pain of those dry and restraining seasons where we only get the manna we need for today but not the steak we desire.

He knew of wilderness experiences, both in his circumstances and in his soul:

'"He ground my teeth with gravel and made me cower in the dust. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. Then I thought, "My future is lost, as well as my hope from the Lord" Lamentations 3:16-18 CSB.

Doubt about past decisions

Not only does the in-between test our trust in God. It can test our trust in ourselves.

For me, I started to doubt and judge previous decisions I had made. Ruminating and regretful thoughts spun around: "I would have avoided this pain and sense of being stuck, if only I had chosen another major, taken a shorter education or lived another place, ."

On and on the accusing voice went with second-guessing, forgetting the truth that Søren Kierkegaard addresses:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”
– Søren Kierkegaard.

It is sad when we dig up in doubt the decisions we planted in faith years ago.

We may not have seen the harvest of those seeds sown earlier in life yet but that is where "[...]we have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised" Hebrews 10:36 AMP.

Life demands patience of us, and patience only comes by daring to tolerate waiting.

It all comes down to trust. Trusting that the God who led us before will lead us again. Trusting that as we walk by faith, not by sight, we will be guided along the best pathway for our life.

What to do in the in-between

If you find yourself in the 'in-between' (and we often do in at least one area of life, hey?), then be encouraged with these verses:

"God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.

 When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst."

Lamentations 3:27-28 MSG .

In the Amplified Bible, the same verse ends with, "It is good for a man that he should bear The yoke [of godly discipline] in his youth. Let him sit alone [in hope] and keep quiet, Because God has laid it on him [for his benefit]" (my emphasis).

I find it fascinating that when we lean into discipleship, including discipline, it is to our own benefit — the benefit of becoming beautiful and strong inside out.

Adversity is to be received as training ground for those who love God.

How do we train in the 'in-between', then? Good question!

The Lamentations-verses above mention a lot of action-related words/verbs:

  • to wait passionately,
  • to seek diligently,
  • to hope quietly,
  • to stick it out,
  • to enter the silence,
  • to bow in prayer.

As you keep coming back to practicing these verbs in your life, your King and God will do His part and roll back the curtains when the new scene of your life is ready to be revealed and played out.

Breakthrough in soul and circumstance

Through the ups and downs of trust - distrust - then trust again — in God and myself, I experienced what is written in Romans 5:4 TPT: "And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope" (my emphasis).

The times I waited with hope and smiled at the future, life was more enjoyable in the 'in-between'.

And you know what?

I got a job!

With the breakthrough, I discovered:

  • God's grace over my imperfect waiting
  • I was busy moving to the next chapter, God was not!
  • God's timing is perfect.

Hope in the future

Remember, you have not disqualified yourself for a great future by any situation done by you or to you in the past.

Your future is not lost. It is safely placed in the hands of God:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

The fogginess will eventually lift and breakthrough will come.

In the meantime, spend less time looking for clarity and reasoning as to why life is hard right now, and more time trusting the One who is the Way, truth and life itself!

I encourage you, do not give up believing for your bright future!

Don't stress out, and don't be so hard on yourself.

You're doing better than you think you are. God is right on time.



No doubt about it

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Have you ever entertained doubt in your mind? Doubt about the future, doubt about your abilities (self-doubt), doubt about your relationships, doubt about your direction? Doubt can show up everywhere and it can be debilitating.

Doubt comes up for me, especially in waiting seasons. Big dreams and vision are awesome and without them, we perish. But in the in-between-space of dream becoming reality, our minds can easily spin into, 'Did God really say?',  'How will this come about?' and 'Have I missed anything since it has not happened yet?'

Rarely will these kind of questions do our heart any good. We'll start reason our way into a downward spiral, jumping to conclusions on how our future will become reality and we'll afflict our life with self-doubt about the seeming gaps in our lives.

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I think Jesus wants to ask some of us: "Faint-heart, what got into you?" Jesus asked this question to Peter as he started to doubt and sink down into the water he just so bravely walked out on to follow Jesus.

So sweet, amazing faint-of-heart-you, what got into you?

No matter what kind of doubt has taken hold of you, it's a gift for us that the topic of doubt is covered many times in the bible!

Why is it important for us to deal with our doubt?
God promises us, His people, that we'll triumph over huge obstacles if we embrace this kingdom life and don't doubt Him. We'll be able to say to a mountain, 'Go jump in the lake', and it will jump! Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as we make it a part of our believing prayer,  gets included as we lay hold of God.                                         (See Matthew 21:21)
The bible makes it clear that there is no doubt about that we've all messed up. The good news is that the bible leaves no room for doubt either about the extravagant grace available for us all every moment of every day!

Let's look on three keys that can help us combat doubt when it starts to damage our day:

1. Simple trust

In this story below, Jesus is appearing for the first time to the disciples after His resurrection. Despite the disciples' doubt, Jesus had been true to His word. He was teaching them simple trust:

"While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe (Luke 24).

Have you done the one thing needed? Being in Jesus' nearness? It's with this simple decision He can minister to our doubting hearts in the same way He did to the disciples: 'Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over.'
As we quit focusing on our own limitations and start confidently trusting Him who makes us able, there is no limit to how much God can strengthen us.
2. Wait and watch 

When doubt arises, instead of acting on our doubt, let's wait and watch how God will come through. We might not see the bigger picture right now, but that's where we got to trust God's timing. A delay does not mean denial. Mark 9 tells us that there are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen. Therefore, watch in expectation what He will do.

Wait and watch for God - with God's arrival comes love, with God's arrival comes generous redemption. No doubt about it - He'll redeem you, He has bought you back from captivity to sin. (See Psalm 130:7)


3. Ask for help

"If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins. So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse. But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different—they’ll love you for it!" Proverbs 9:7.
Sometimes I am the arrogant cynic who starts reasoning with myself about what's happening in my life. As the Proverb above plainly tells, I end up slapping myself in the face instead of receiving peace to my doubting, confused heart and mind. Reasoning by ourselves is not wise. We are called to trust, not always understand.
We don't come far by reasoning. We do come far with asking for help. Instead of trying to fight our doubts in our own strength by reasoning, we can be honest with our Father. It's okay to ask for help and say, 'I believe. Help me with my doubts.' The same did a father in Mark 9 who doubted Jesus' ability to set his son free from a demon that had made him mute. Despite the father's doubt, God set his son free!
I pray you will know beyond doubt that God is with you and that you are part of God's dear flock, the flock of His pasture, His human flock. (See Ezekiel 34:30) Practise simple trust, wait and watch for God, and ask Him for help with your doubts.
May the Master of peace Himself grant you His robust peace!
No doubt about it, you can stop doubt from defining your days.
In this together,
Photography: Lasse Hultén.
Bible references: All from the Message translation.

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