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Asked and Answered

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Seven and a half years ago, I was lying in bed with my abdomen pressing down on my diaphragm and a CPAP mask over my face, and I prayed, “God, see me through to morning, and I promise I’ll go on another diet.” Yet when morning came, I couldn’t diet past breakfast. I had hit bottom.

I tell this story often when I am asked to speak at a retreat or when I qualify at meetings. Only recently did it occur to me that God had indeed answered my prayer. He did see me through to morning. But as soon as I reached that morning, I took control back and tried again to diet on my own, forgetting I had tried diets hundreds of times over the past fifty years or more to no avail.

So what went wrong? Why didn’t God help me? I realized I had never asked him to help me abstain from my destructive eating behaviors. I hadn’t even prayed for the willingness to abstain. All I’d wanted was to live to morning and then “I could take it from there.” No wonder I failed. I had never understood that I was truly powerless over food and only he could restore me to sanity. I never could have done this on my own.

I also understand now that I felt guilt and it was devastating. I had received God’s gift of life and then not gone on another diet. I had made a promise to God but not delivered on my promise. I had “sinned” in God’s eyes and deserved terrible punishment. The overwhelming guilt and hopelessness simply pushed me to eat even more.

I’d hit bottom with no hope in sight. So I went to my doctor and begged her to staple my stomach. She said she would not approve the surgery unless I saw a therapist who specialized in eating disorders. The therapist said she would only take me on if I attended at least three OA meetings. I went to my first OA meeting on May 26, 2006, weighing about 313 pounds (142 kg). Someone there read “Our Invitation to You.” I heard “there is a proven, workable method by which we can arrest our illness,” and I began to have hope.

By the grace of God, I was “struck abstinent” at that first meeting. I got a sponsor at the next meeting. I never had to have the surgery and lost 150 pounds (68 kg) within two years. I have maintained my healthy body weight ever since.

Now my prayer is different. “God, please grant me another day of abstinence and serenity. Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change and instead turn them all over to you and your care. Grant me courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”

I’ve heard “Ask and you shall receive.” I asked and I have received. Thank you, God.

—Sander B., Marietta, Georgia USA

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