“Not once in my life have I ever craved a carrot stick….I am emotionally allergic to typical books on healthy eating.”
These are two admissions Lysa TerKeurst , President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, makes in the first few pages of her latest book, “Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God, Not Food.”
They are also two of the statements that made me wonder if I would glean anything of substance from this book.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a HUGE Lysa TerKeurst fan. I have had the opportunity to hear her speak several times, have chatted with her in person at every one of those events (because she’s just so awesome and personable that way), have eaten breakfast with her TWICE, and have read most of her other books and her blog for over three years. Not only is she downright hilarious, but she has also inspired me in my writing, in my parenting, in my marriage and in my friendships. I am so honored to say that I know her and consider her a friend.
But here is where Lysa and I part ways: I love carrots. In fact, I love all vegetables…a lot. I know I’m not normal, but I would go so far as to say I do, indeed, crave them. Not only that, but I subscribe to Health magazine and several on-line health newsletters, I read at least one book a month on exercise or healthy eating, I am married to a tri-athlete, and, hello? I have a fitness and nutrition blog.
With great interest, I followed Lysa’s weight-loss journey on her blog two years ago . At first, I was quietly concerned that maybe she hadn’t chosen a healthy eating plan. I wanted to pull her aside and give her some pointers. After all, based on what she shared on the blog, she was eating a very restricted diet (even for ME!), she was drastically cutting calories, and she was losing weight rapidly. I wondered if she would be able to sustain it for the long term.
When she announced that she was writing a book about her weight loss, I was a little confused. Not that I wasn’t insanely proud of her for reaching her weight-loss goal. I was. But with the utmost respect for my friend Lysa, did losing a few pounds really qualify her to write a book about it? What would she write about nutrition and weight-loss that hasn’t already been written?
Needless to say, while I wasn’t really sure what I could learn about healthy eating in her new book, I was curious to read the message that flowed from her weight-loss journey. Because, clearly, something was burning in her heart. And I sensed it was deeper than mere calorie-restriction.
So, last week I read the book.
In three days.
I couldn’t put it down.
I’m not kidding.
It wasn’t long into Made to Crave before I realized that this book was more a book about craving God than it was about NOT craving food. Lysa’s issues of craving unhealthy food and seeking food for comfort are only the backdrop of a much bigger, more universal issue:
that we were created to crave God. If we are craving anything more than we are craving God, it is idolatry and sin. If we are finding our security and our comfort in anyone but God, it is idolatry and sin.
Now let ME make an admission: I may not have issues with food, but, honey, I’ve got issues. When I feel hurt and rejected, lonely and isolated, confused and misunderstood, I don’t usually run to God first. I run first to my husband. And when he can’t fix me, I run to a girlfriend. And since most of my girlfriends are so busy with their own kids and issues to talk to me, I run to other things, like control over my schedule or over my children’s behavior. Like a clean and orderly home. Like prolonged isolation from people.
But just like those who choose food for comfort, my go-to methods of coping are only temporary solutions. It isn’t long before I feel hurt and rejected, lonely and isolated, confused and misunderstood all over again. Because running to anything but God (husbands, friends, food, control, whatever) doesn’t work for the long-term. It only leads to a greater sense of emptiness.
“It is good for God’s people to be put in a place of longing so they feel a slight desperation. Only then can we be empty long enough and open enough to discover the holiness we were made for. When we are stuffed full of other things and never allow ourselves to be in a place of longing, we don’t recognize the deeper spiritual battle going on. Satan wants to keep us distracted by chasing one temporary filling after another. God wants us to step back and let the emptying process have its way until we start desiring a holier approach to life. The gap between our frail discipline and God’s available strength is bridged with nothing but a simple choice on our part to pursue this holiness.”
In one of my favorite and most memorable parts of the book, Lysa discusses self-image. She says:
“We like to identify our shortcomings, form them into a club, and mentally beat the tar out of ourselves. Over and over and over again. We label ourselves and soon lose our real identity to the beaten and bruised fragility we call ‘me.’ We compare, we assume, we assess, we measure, and most times walk away shaking our head at how woefully short our “me” falls when compared to everyone else. (and my—Sandy’s—favorite quote in the whole book that stopped me dead in my tracks) How dangerous it is to hold up the intimate knowledge of our imperfections against the outside packaging of others.”
My-oh-my, I just want to cry when I consider how often I do that to myself.
And because I cannot, for the life of me, come up with a smooth segue from that paragraph to this one, I’ll just say this–Here are a few other things I’m still chewing on a week after finishing this book:
I am made for more than fighting the exact same battles over, and over, and over. God cares about my battle and He wants to see me victorious.
My temptations are not random occurrences in the randomness of random life. Instead, they are carefully crafted schemes by the Father of Lies, my spiritual Enemy, Satan. Which makes me all the more determined to handle my temptations seriously and Biblically.
So, here’s the deal: This book is wonderful. If you struggle with unhealthy food issues, it is absolutely for you. But if, like me, you struggle with seeking security and comfort in anything else BUT God, this book is for you, too.
Who is it NOT for? Dudes. Seriously, men, Made to Crave is very girlie. Which I happen to like in a book. But then again, I’m a girl.
Also, men, this is NOT the book to pick up for that special lady in your life. No matter how wonderful it is and no matter how much your woman will learn from Lysa, trust me when I say, it will not be well-received. It’s akin to buying your wife a gym membership or a treadmill.
Lysa and her publisher were kind enough to send a signed copy of Made to Crave for me to give to one lucky reader today. Leave me a comment with your name and e-mail address and I will enter you.
But if you don’t win, you need to go buy the book yourself. Really, you do. It’s that good.
I will announce winners on Wednesday.