What if? Have you ever allowed the “what if?” voice to drive you into a state of fear and paralyzation? It happens often. It’s the enemy’s favorite mantra. This small phrase alone is enough to keep us distracted from getting the very things we say we want in life. Have you ever asked yourself:
- What if I lose the weight and gain it all back?
- What if I love them and they leave?
- What if I trust and I get hurt?
- What if I believe and it doesn’t happen?
- What if I don’t control this and something bad happens?
- What if things never get better?
What if they never change?
- What if I really am _____?
We can waste a lifetime distracted in the “what ifs” and miss out on the peace and joy available right now. “What if” always pulls from our past fears and perpetuates them into our future. It may feel like this defense mechanism is protecting us, but actually it is robbing us. When we live in the “what if” our faith in God’s power, plan and purpose is exchanged for the lie that we can control circumstances, people and outcomes.
Many of my coaching clients discover early in their journey that they waste a lot of energy trying to manage and control the people and the circumstances around them, while struggling to control themselves. Many women want to control the number on the scale and how their children and husband eat, but they feel out of control to eat healthily, exercise consistently, resist temptations and/or drink water throughout the day. There is a huge difference between controlling our weight and controlling our behavior and mindset. Controlling our weight is exhausting. Controlling our mind and behavior is empowering.
There is a difference between influence and control. We can influence circumstances, outcomes and people only through controlling ourselves. Influence is either positive or negative. If we want to be a positive influence on others, we must be what that others desire and wait for God to open up opportunities to show and speak wisdom, truth and love. If we want to influence our weight and health, we must make daily choices in alignment with that desire. God does the rest. God is responsible for causing the seeds we plant and water to grow. It is not our job to create results or force things to happen and therefore we can cast our burdens and anxieties at God’s feet. Influence can easily become manipulation when our intent and focus is to change a person, situation or outcome. Manipulation may work short-term, but it doesn’t change hearts, it doesn’t break patterns and it doesn’t bring peace.
Let’s get back to fear. Fear takes over when we give more power to “what if” than the power of God to heal, save, restore, resurrect, provide and comfort. Babies are born with two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Every other fear is acquired. All of our “what ifs” stem from acquired fears that we have probably experienced over and over and over again - the fear of rejection, loss, failure, success, attention, loneliness, being out-of-control, not being enough, not being loved or lovable, etc. It’s always interesting when my clients uncover their biggest fears, because there is usually a theme. The enemy only needs to plant one or two major fears in you (based on your life experiences) and He can torture you with a lifetime of “evidence” that your fears are real. This is how it works. What we fear, we actually look for. We think we are looking in order to avoid it, but actually it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Let’s tie this to a weight and a health journey. An example is a client who wants to release the excess weight and be her best healthy self. She has been on many diets. She has gained and lost hundreds of pounds over her lifetime. She has never maintained the results of her diet efforts and she blames herself - even though the diet efforts were NOT methods that were sustainable long-term. He husband reminds her every time she tries something new that she has never been successful before - so what’s different this time? As we begin to work together and physical and emotional progress starts to happen (as it usually does when someone tries something new and exciting), she begins sabotaging her progress. Where she was once motivated and focused, she now is reverting back to patterns of laziness, excuses and the need to cope and escape with food. She can’t explain what shifted, but she knows this feeling well. She KNOWS what to do, but she just can’t seem to make herself do it consistently. It’s almost as if there is something more powerful than her dictating her behavior and controlling her mind. As we dive into this, she discovers that she is asking the “What if I lose the weight and gain it all back?” which is triggering a fear. Remember, fear can paralyze us. As we walk through a process of uncovering the lies attached to this fear - she discovers what the enemy has twisted around her identity - I am a failure. I don’t deserve to be healthy, happy and whole. I am not strong enough. I’m not good enough. When we listen to the enemy instead of God, we allow the enemy to wrap and twist lies around our identity and we live trapped in a life and sometimes a body that we feel out of control in because it’s not who or what we have been created to be.
This is the power of fear. It will drive you to pull back into your comfort zone (even if it’s dysfunctional) of who it has told you, you are. Fear makes you want to shrink and hide. It robs you of your dreams. It leads to discouragement. And it does this to the tune of, “what if?”. Your worst fears come alive when you ask, what if? But the truth is that the answer to the “What if” questions is not reality, it’s simply a projection of fear that can be replaced with a projection of faith.
Here are three ways to flip our fear to faith when we are tempted with the “what if’s” in our lives:
- Don’t do what you feel.
It says often throughout the bible, “Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged”. Notice it did not say, do not FEEL afraid or discouraged. The first way to battle fear and discouragement is to realize that just because we feel it doesn’t mean we have to be it. Just because we feel it, doesn’t mean we have to act on it. Have you ever done something you were fearful of, despite feeling the fear? Of course you have. If you’ve ever had a baby, jumped out of a plane, started a new business, moved away from home or went out on a first date - we have all had experiences where we felt great fear, but we did it anyway. This is encouragement. The presence of the feeling of fear does not mean we give it access to our decisions and actions. For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 We find hope in the truth that we have power, love and self-control to overcome the fear the enemy tempts us with.
- Go below the “what if?”
It is going to be difficult to never ask the “what if” question because our minds are programmed to find patterns, consistency and evidence in order to make sense of our internal and external world. But we don’t have to stop at the “what if?” question (which is what the enemy wants us to do). We need to dive below the surface fear and see where it takes us. The next thing we need to say after “what if” is ”that would”...
What if I lose the weight and gain it all back?
- be really disappointing.
- be embarrassing.
- feel awful.
- make me feel like a failure...again.
- make me not worth having friends or being loved.
- mean I really am a failure.
Sometimes we realize that the worst thing that could happen is not as scary as we thought it was compared to when we asked the ‘what if” statement. And sometimes it brings up the reality of what our worst nightmare would be. Either way, we are confronting our fears. This is healthy and this is a place of power.
But we have one more level to take us deeper into the fear. This is my favorite.
AND THEN GOD…
We can’t forget that we are not here to figure out our lives alone. We have a God who never leaves us nor forsakes us. We have a God who is fully committed to our growth into who He has created and called us to be. We have a God who lives inside of us and guides us, comforts us, gives us wisdom and directs our steps. No matter what scenario plays out, God has a plan. No matter what meets us at the depth of our fears, God is bigger and He knew the fear would lead us to Him. Nothing is hidden from God and nothing surprises God. This is a great source of comfort and a powerful dissipator of fear.
If you have ever had your worst fear happen, like I have. You know (now) it’s not the end. When it happens, it feels like the end. You feel like the very life and breath have been sucked out of you. You can’t see any further than the pain. AND THEN GOD...in those sacred and scary places builds us up from the heap of ashes. We can’t see it when we are in the midst of it. But eventually, we see a glimmer of hope. Eventually, we are able to get out of bed. Eventually, we crack a smile. Eventually, we actually mean it when we laugh. And then, when enough time passes, we look back and see how God used the devastation to build up our faith, strength, courage, character, patience and perseverance - in a way that could have never happened except to be cultivated in the pit of disappointment and loss. And then we try again, this time better equipped for the battle.
Ugh. This is life. It’s not in an easy peasy life that we cultivate our character and discover who we really are. It’s in the struggles. It’s the places of weakness that God displays his power and strength. For many women, it’s in our health and weight. It’s in our weakness of trying to control and take care of others at the expense of neglecting ourselves that God uproots our pride, ego and self-sufficiency and leads us down a path to self-love, surrender and trust. Diets don’t work because it’s not the path to self love, surrender and trust - it’s a mechanism to control, manipulate and obsess. It’s a quick fix for a superficial result. God is not interested in superficial. This doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us to look and feel amazing. I believe He does, but I also firmly believe, He will only do it through the vehicle of transformation from the inside-out. God is about healing - not about putting a bandaid on our fears and insecurities so we can feel okay about ourselves for a little bit until things fall apart again. God heals. God restores. God delivers. I am thankful every day for God delivering me from my weight obsession and unhealthy coping behaviors but it was NOT a quick fix, it was a transformation.
- Know Who You Are
We are not what we have done. We are not our lack. We are not what other people have labelled us to be. We are not who we use to be. God will continue to confront us in the form of people, situations and circumstances until we understand who we are.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I love this truth. I stand on this truth. You can too. You are a new creation. We can be confident that everything we have been through is more than worth it because God has used it all to transform us into who He has called us to be. Nothing has been wasted. Nothing. Fear will tell you it’s a waste. Faith will tell you that your Father is working everything out for your good and it’s better than we can imagine.
So, you may struggle with eating the right things and working out consistently. You may have tried and failed over and over again to be successful in your health. You may feel tortured with the “what if’s” of your life, but God has a plan. He has more for you to learn - about yourself and about Him. Perhaps you have been looking for comfort at the bottom of a wine bottle or tub of ice cream and that’s been holding you back from releasing the weight. God wants to reveal the true source of comfort to you, so you don’t have to search for it outside of yourself ever again. Perhaps you have been searching for validation that are enough in a number on the scale or size of pants and that has drove you to diets, calorie counting, restricting, obsessing, etc. God wants you to know your worth in Him, so you don’t have to waste any more time and energy searching for it elsewhere. This is the stuff ladies that sets us free in our weight and health. This is the path that leads to freedom from the behaviors and mindsets that lead to the weight gain and health issues. If you are looking for results through the vehicle of truth and path of freedom, let’s chat on a free coaching session.