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A Hungry God...

4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness1 to be tempted by the devil. 4:2 After he fasted forty days and forty nights he was famished.2 4:3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.”3 4:4 But he answered,4 “It is written, ‘Man5 does not live6 by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Matthew 4:1-4

Dear Friends:

Below is an entry from my journal. It is a tough read. Please know that when I share this I am sharing a piece of my soul. Please handle with care. God Bless.

This past spring, I shared with the congregation in one of my sermons about my eating disorder. It was tough for me to do, but I had to because I believe that when you can speak to a disorder, you take its power away. Eating disorders are a grave thing. They can lead to malnutrition, morbid obesity, diabetes, and even early death.

As a people, we are consumed with vanity. We crave the approval of others and desire to be beautiful. Our image maker in our mind is broken. We see too many air-brushed images of celebrities. “Oh, if I could just look like him or her.” We try everything, diet, exercise, pills, and nothing changes. We binge and starve ourselves to the point of becoming bulimic and anorexic. We terrorize our bodies because we don’t know what we are missing. We can’t see the disease of the “yo-yo diet,” Every time we look in the mirror, we become more disgusted with what we see. We see a sagging stomach and stretch marks. We see the scars of surgeries past and wonder how anyone could love this body. So we hide in shame in oversized clothes and go on about our lives, thinking nothing will change.

We assume that if we don’t like our body that God must not like us either. So what’s the point of a relationship with God?

All of what I have shared so far are parts of my story. They are the gut-wrenching honest to God truth. If we can’t be comfortable with our bodies, how could we be satisfied with a God who made, formed, and created us to be in the image of God? How we see ourselves matters. How God sees us matters. If we can’t look in the mirror and say, “this is my body…then how can we appreciate the meal of Holy Communion in which we are asked to feast on Christ’s body and blood.”

Each of us has a story to tell—a story of pain, suffering, and anxiety. Traumas from the past haunt us when not dealt with and shape our very being. We react to trauma in ways that we could not possibly imagine. We do and say things that we know aren’t right. We are, in a sense struggling against the traumatic experience that has driven us to abuse our bodies. Depression is anger turned inward. We can not face trauma, depression, and other mental disorders with just prayer. It takes the skilled teamwork of physicians, therapists, and God to help break the cycles of generational trauma.

I have known the shame of being “fat”. I have been called names, teased, and laughed at behind my back. As an adult, I have felt the embarrassment of struggling to fit in an airplane seat or accidentally breaking a chair. I have been ridiculed in the workplace and made to feel inferior. It’s time for me to take back the power. It’s time for me to do more than I am to change this course and direction. It’s time for me to get serious about loving myself as much as I love to eat fast food. It’s time to become comfortable in my skin.

Jesus knew what it was to be tempted. He was tempted in the wilderness to feed his flesh, but yet he resisted. It wasn’t easy, but Jesus knew everything hung on these moments.

Today, I want to challenge you to stand in front of a full-body mirror and just look, don’t judge. Invite God into that space and seek the counsel and the wisdom of God. Remember, you are a human being; cut yourself some slack. It’s going to take time to retrain your brain.

I want you to know that you are not in this alone. I am here for you and will be praying for you daily. Please call me at 716-485-6246 or come to the office and visit me. I would be honored to share my story with you. Remember, God, hungers for a relationship with you. God desires for a faithful expression of his grace in your life.

In Jesus Name,

Rev. Daniel J. Bradley

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