Written by Teresa Goodnight
“Today, I call Heaven and Earth as witnesses against you, And I set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”Deuteronomy 30:19
Kristen Marie came from a broken upbringing surrounded by drugs, alcohol, and abuse. As a child and young adult, she struggled to find stability navigating the chaos around her. She desperately sought ways to stop the generational addiction. The problem: her family had a spiritual void. Kristen didn’t fill that spiritual hole with her family’s style of addictions. Instead, she found solace in her relationship with food.
Kristen shared, “Growing up, I saw the fierce grip that addiction had on them, and I wanted the generational cycles broken in my life. I was determined to never get drunk, do drugs, or be promiscuous. However, I didn’t know how to deal with my pain and brokenness in a healthy manner. It wasn’t until I was born-again that my eyes were opened to the addiction that I had. I was addicted to food.”
As the third child to her 25-year old parents on the brink of divorce, Kristen was an unplanned pregnancy. Her parents tried to make the marriage work, but ultimately divorced before she was two years old. Throughout her foundational years, Kristen was told by family members she was a mistake; they said her parents didn’t even want her and that she caused the divorce. In addition to that trauma, throughout her preschool and elementary years, her parents continued to not work well with one another. Kristen, along with her older sister and brother, were shuffled back and forth from one parent’s house to the other. By the time she was ten years old, both of her parents had each married two more times.
Kristen went on, “Before my seventh-grade year, I chose to live with my dad since my older brother and sister were already living with him full-time. The house was always busy and swirling with something new. At times there were nine kids all under one roof, between the full, half, and step siblings. Although I was surrounded by many people in the same house, the message planted deep in my soul was—‘I am alone, and nobody gets me.’ For years I struggled with rejection. It was just an unhealthy environment.”
Kristen continued, “I can’t recall when my struggle with overeating began. It may have originated at an early age when our pantry would often be empty, and I would be hungry. During those times, I may have developed a poverty-mindset, feeling like I didn’t have enough, and when food was available, I would overeat out of fear. Because of that, when the shelves were full of groceries, I would overeat. I became incredibly, emotionally tied to food.”
Like many of us have felt at times, Kristen was using food to soothe the heartaches of life. Kristen said, “At times, I would eat out of boredom, loneliness, rejection or insecurity. The food caused me to feel something different than the pain. Other times, it gave me some sense of control—a momentary satisfaction.”
Kristen communicated, “I said, ‘Yes’ to Jesus as Savior during my freshman year of college. He began to open my eyes to many unhealthy, toxic decisions and habits in my life. I longed for His healing in every part of me. I was ready to take personal responsibility for my choices and learn the changes/choices that I needed to make to connect to the abundant, full life that Jesus offers (John 10:10).”
Kristen admitted, “In reality, I lacked the understanding, skills and maturity to stop using food to ‘scratch the itch’ of the ache in my heart.” Although Kristen’s family couldn’t see it due to her high level of activity as a college soccer player, her relationship with food was less about fuel and more about emotional upkeep. Kristen said, “During my junior year in college, I suffered a hip fracture playing soccer and was on crutches for six weeks. The inactivity coupled with my overeating caused me to gain a lot of weight quickly — about forty pounds. Finally, my family recognized my struggle with food addiction, but they had no solution.”
Kristen revealed, “There was never any peace, I lived in a daily cycle of dread regarding food. I struggled with self-defeating monologues and unhealthy emotions based on how much I overate or what I chose to eat, or worse—not being able to stop grabbing more to eat. I felt like if I had one cookie, I would end up eating a dozen. Any sort of diet or food plan didn’t help me. It exacerbated the addiction by asking me to focus more on food, instead of turning my focus and attention elsewhere.”
Kristen was able to find power over her addiction by staying connected to God’s Spirit within her. She had to learn how to stay in communion with Jesus throughout her day. It was this choice to stay in constant communion (and communication) with Him that empowered her to change her thoughts, emotions, desires, behaviors, and habits. With each decision, she learned how to partner with Him and begin to experience freedom, self-control, and a new way to navigate through life — with a “Choose Life lens.” The more Kristen chose to invite Jesus into her struggles and mundane activities (like eating), the greater her intimacy grew with Him; her attachment to food began to dissipate.
“Always before me is the choice to usher in God’s Spirit fully to penetrate my thoughts and emotions. Receiving and agreeing with the way God feels about things is a ‘Choose Life’ choice.”
It was then that Kristen felt she began making more and more “Choose Life” choices in her eating. Kristen said, “I moved from living a food-focused, quick-fix high, to a Jesus-lasting solution. Deuteronomy 30:19 became more and more alive to me. With each choice I had in front of me, I learned to “Choose Life” by saturating myself with God’s Spirit by slowing my pace and choosing to stay connected to His Spirit inside of me. I enjoyed recognizing His promptings and nudges. I loved yielding to Him. I was slowly learning how to overcome—to reveal “the Overcomer” that lives inside of me. To be the overcomer He desires for me to be.”
Kristen said, “If you find yourself in any kind of struggle of addiction—you have to decide to surrender your life to Jesus. I know we say that a lot, and it can sound trite or even churchy. But when you get truly connected to the Overcomer-Spirit (God’s Spirit) that lives inside you, choosing to live aligned to His Words, bondages begin to lose their power over you. You can stop seeking quick fixes and replace them with His presence through worship and prayer.” Kristen went on, “When we are in God’s manifested presence, we are changed into His likeness. Chains fall off. Strongholds are broken. Diseases are healed. Churchy sounding or not—it’s just what happens with His amazing power.”
Kristen explained her key to conquering her addiction, as simple as it sounds, was built with consistent, quality time with God and His Word. She said, “In this time of stillness, I press into His Spirit with an active lingering, until I feel a release inside of me. This has become my habit instead of reaching for food, or any other substance. I can literally feel God’s Spirit advancing within me, leaving His emotional climate of peace, ease, humility, contentment and thanksgiving. Always before me is the choice to usher in God’s Spirit fully to penetrate my thoughts and emotions. Receiving and agreeing with the way God feels about things is a ‘Choose Life’ choice.”
As a personal trainer, Kristen has always desired to help people discover and usher in their best selves. She helps others see a common tactic of the Enemy who uses food addiction to kill, steal, and destroy God’s people (John 10:10). The enemy kills by causing many to die premature deaths, because of obesity and diseases. He steals our joy and vision for our future, because we are focused on ourselves and our mistakes, instead of being thankful for what the present has to offer. He destroys our confidence and moments of intimacy (with others), by flooding our minds and emotions with regret, shame, and judgement of ourselves. Thus, we don’t have the strength and self-worth to show up and be all in, offering our authentic self to our family and friends. Year after year, Kristen has seen many remain stuck and defeated, causing an even greater enslavement to food. Out of her personal victories on overcoming, Kristen created “Choose Life Eating” to teach others how to overcome the enemy and to make successful steps forward.
Kristen’s programs, “Choose Life Eating” and “Choose Life Workouts,” as well as her other “Choose Life Choices,” are offered underneath the “Choose Life People” community umbrella.
“At times, I would eat out of boredom, loneliness, rejection or insecurity. The food caused me to feel something different than the pain. Other times, it gave me some sense of control—a momentary satisfaction.”
The “Choose Life People” is an authentic, vulnerable community of people, who are committed to live with a “Choose Life lens” and look for opportunities to connect to the abundant life Jesus offers them. It is people who recognize the power of “we.” As such, they commit to journey together; they intentionally choose to partner with Heaven in their decisions. They believe God’s words in Deuteronomy 30:19, understanding their choices matter for their lives and the generations that follow. Kristen has both a website and a Facebook page which encompass the “Choose Life People.”
Kristen shared, “I would love to see a generation of ‘Choose Life People’ navigating through their days with a ‘Choose Life lens.’ They would reap the blessings connected to their specific choices, but also create a domino effect of power and momentum for the generations after them.” Kristen ended, “Can you imagine a people, who with every choice, thought, emotion, and desire “Choose Life” by staying continually connected to Jesus instead of compartmentalizing Him to Sunday mornings? After all, He told us He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ (John 14:6).”
Are YOU Purposefully Choosing Your Master?
Whether it’s a conscious decision—it’s still a choice. I wanted to share Kristen’s story, because I think she’s got it. God wasn’t meant to be kept in a box. He’s not just a Sunday friend. He absolutely wants to be part of our daily lives. He is Life. He just is. He is our power to choose better. He is the one who came to provide an abundant life for us. That abundance is absolutely impeded with sinful choices.
Paul writes in Romans 6:14 (NLT) “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”
When we find ourselves addicted to any kind of external props to satisfy or fulfill needs, we are choosing to be addicted to sin, consciously or not. It is a choice. It’s not a “Choose Life” choice. It’s actually quite the opposite. Addictive personalities can transfer those kinds of behaviors to many other things in life. It’s not just drugs or alcohol. It’s not just sex or porn. It’s not just food. It’s a surrendering of our power and control to anything or anyone that can give us something we’re lacking.
In the end, that void is the God-shaped vacuum referenced by C.S. Lewis. We all have it. How are you choosing to fill yours? It is a choice. That’s where God comes in. That’s why a relationship with a savior who loves you, wants the best for you and has a plan for your life outside of what you may see before you brings a whole new level of abundant living. His promises for more are written all over history. They are manifested in His word. In fact, He gives us His WORD that He came so that we might have Life and have it MUCH more abundantly. In John 10:10 NLT Jesus says very directly, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” So, why wouldn’t we “Choose Life?”
It’s important to understand what Paul shared in Romans above on this very situation when addressing sin. Freedom in Christ empowers us to make better choices for our lives freeing us from the mode of “I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” When you are free, you can technically do whatever you want. However, it’s BECAUSE you are free that you don’t choose to enslave yourself to those sins anymore. When you realize everything you do, say, consume is a choice—then you suddenly realize the power Jesus Christ has in you if you will “Choose Life” and give it to Him. When you choose Him, you are not a slave to any other master than the one you have chosen and you call Him Abba, Father.
Becoming His child doesn’t just save you from a devastating eternal destination. That may be where it starts, but it is NOT where it ends. It actually saves you for a satisfying, full life He created in advance for you to have. When you “Choose Life,” as Kristen suggests, you connect your spirit to the power source to do life differently. I am confident that manifests itself when we have Him IN our daily lives.
I can’t wait to see how God impacts your life in 2020 with the “Choose Life” mantra (or with this program if you decide to join in!).
SERIOUSLY ADDICTED? If you are experiencing a more serious addiction needing professional help, we would like to recommend these Christians counselors as a start. They can really provide guidance toward living your new “Choose Life” journey. Cornerstone Christian Counseling 918.392.4008.