August 11, 2010

Geneen, Me and God

I finished Geneen Roth's book Women Food and God.


I am still reeling from this book. I started it a couple of weeks ago and just couldn't get into it right off the bat. Some of the language offended me and I had preconceived notions of what the book would be about. I thought about quitting after the first two chapters.

I knew that I did not share some of the author's beliefs. But one valuable lesson I have learned in my short life is that you can disagree with someone (or think you disagree with them) and still hear them out. Doing this does not mean you are agreeing with them. It does not mean you are abandoning all that you stand for.

In my opinion it means quite the contrary. I have found that one who is secure in his beliefs is more able to hear and at least attempt to understand those of others. Just as a man who is secure in his relationship with his wife will not be afraid of losing her every time she walks out the door. I can listen to someone I don't see eye to eye with, be friends with them and even learn from them without the fear of losing all that I am and ever hoped to be! The most secure people are even grounded enough to realize that there is a possibility they might be...wrong. *Gasp*

So with that attitude I continued on reading. And I'm glad I did. Ironically I had to use some of the author's techniques of inquiry and creating awareness to try and understand where she was coming from throughout much of this book. I had to resist the habitual urge to cringe and huff and puff while I read something contrary to what I know so that I could glean what I needed to.

This is what I learned and/or agreed with in Women Food and God:

  • People don't get fat simply because they like the way food tastes. I have been guilty of making that claim. It doesn't work that way. Geneen says, "When you like something, you pay attention to it." When was the last time you sat down to a bag of chips and savored every last bite? Alrighty then.
  • Feeling my feelings can not destroy me. But food can.
  • Getting to a goal weight is only going to result in happiness if I have fixed what is truly broken. The first step is understanding of self. Weight loss does not make people happy.
  • I always try to find new, better ways of doing things. Short-cuts, more efficient and convenient ways. These are forms of procrastination and avoidance. A teacher of Geneen's once told her, "Instead of trying to change it all, start noticing what's already here." Show up where you already are. Live the life you are living TODAY.
  • "With awareness (the ability to know what you are feeling) and presence (the ability to inhabit a feeling while sensing that which is bigger than feeling), it is possible to be with what you believe will destroy you without being destroyed." (pg. 92) Whoa--this was big for me. I'm a bad feeling-dodger. I want to be more aware. Of everything. My feelings, my cravings, my family, my words, my breathing. Everything. "Obsessions and awareness cannot coexist."
  • Eat what you want when you're hungry and feel what you feel when you're not.
  • It's not the feelings that hurt us, it's what we tell ourselves about the feelings that hurts. (pg. 103)
  • Every time I reach for that which I am not truly hungry for, I make a statement about who I believe I am and who my God is. I am saying the food is bigger and more important. I am saying that the food can take care of me better than He can. I am not trusting.

This is only a small bit of what I learned. There is really no way to get it all into one blog post. Still I keep thinking of more to type, but I probably already lost most readers. Sigh.

Before I conclude I do need to address the latter 1/3 of the title of the book. The "God" part. Let me briefly explain both my view of God and the author's:

I believe in God the Father. He created me. He accepts me despite my depravity. He sacrificed his own child because of his love for me. He romances me. He wants me near him. He loves me deeply. I believe in God the Son. He's lived life on earth. He has felt joy and happiness; pain and suffering. He died for me. He rose from the dead and lives now at the right hand of his father. He is coming back again. I believe in God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides me. He gives me wisdom and words. He is my intercessor. I believe in a triune God--3 in one. My God does not allow for any other Gods so my sheer belief in Him disallows me from believing in any other. When I am weak He is strong. Where I end, He begins. He is my Deliverer. My Shelter. My Provider. He is my everything and without him I am nothing.

"I don't believe in the God that most people call God, but I do know that the only definition of God that makes any sense is one that uses human life and its suffering--the very things we believe we need to hide or fix--as a path to the heart of love itself...I use the word [God] in this book because it evokes a vast expanse that we cannot penetrate with our minds, although we can know it through silence or poetry or simply sensing what is always here." (pg. 25) "And if you are willing to refrain from dieting and needing an instant solution, and if you want to use your relationship with food as the unexpected path, you will discover that God has been here all along...In each moment of kindness you lavish upon your breaking heart or the size of your thighs, with each breath you take--God has been here. She is you." (pg.201) *I tried my best to accurately represent the author's views by using only direct quotes from the book, in their complete context.

You can tell by reading the final sentence of each of the last two paragraphs--our ideals of God are in stark contrast to one another. So ultimately, would I recommend this book? Yes. Would I recommend the author's ideas of god? No.

As I told someone yesterday, I can plug my God into Geneen's template. It fits. She says that anyone could plug any god into that template and it would work. Even if your god is you. I just don't see how that can work. We are broken people. We are the reason we are reading a book like this in the first place. So somehow the idea of pull up your own bootstraps and become the god you were always meant to be just doesn't add up. It makes me tired, actually.

In the end, I learned much about my relationship with food--that it is flawed and that it can be fixed with time and God's help. I became even more deeply rooted in my own beliefs of God which are quite different from those held by the author of this book. The cool thing is, I think Geneen would be happy with this outcome.


Charbelle said...

This post was amazing!! I can see where you were coming from on disagreeing with the authors viewpoint! Your explanation of God is wonderful and I wish I could steal this whole post and repost it. Instead I'm just going to do a link up to this post because I really appreciate it!

Kate said...

I agree with your conclusion that Geneen would be really happy with your outcome. That's what's so hard about writing books/articles about addictions. You're usually speaking to an audience that has completely walked away from any concept of a God because they are so beaten and miserable. But give them an opening. Ever so slight, to work with that sliver of God they have left, and amazing things can happen.

I'm glad you finished the book. You got what you got out of it and it was meaningful. And isn't that the point of exploration? Especially from someone with differing beliefs.

The Newsham's said...

Love your blog!!


Anonymous said...

Well done, Keelie! I started to read Geneen's book--I got thru about 50 pages or so, and then I kind of flipped around in it.

Her view of God, which you correctly and skillfully presented, affected me as it did you. Because reading is so difficult for me--and because I was disappointed in the book--and because her New Age philosphy made my skin crawl--I put the book down and read another book that was waiting.

I didn't cast it off completely, tho, thought I'd give it another shot when I got other waiting reads, read.

funny this post came when it did, because I just decided yesterday to give Geneen another go this evening.


So, your post is not only well-done, it's timely, too.



Weight loss is NO FAIRY TALE said...

Another fabulous and inspiring post. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Great post!!! I also had some trouble getting started with the book but ultimately loved it in the end.

Chocolate Maniac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

Great post! I have actually been wanting to read this book, but I wasn't sure. I read a few pages and it seemed really interesting. And I think I may pick it up now after reading this. THough I am with you on the difference of who God is. I think that with God you can change, but it does require work and I think that some of the ideas in the book can help you reach the goals with God. I ahve heard many times With faith in God you can move mountains, but that doesn't mean you won't have to get a shovel." God toes give us the tools and the strength but often times we have to pick up our shovel and get to work.

Katie J said...

I just bought the book and yes, your review is VERY timely.

Tammy said...

I have to say this is the BEST post I have read from anyone in a VERY long time. It was so cool to read that your beliefs on God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are EXACTLY like mine. Awesome. :)

Tammy said...

I have to say this is the BEST post I have read from anyone in a VERY long time. It was so cool to read that your beliefs on God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are EXACTLY like mine. Awesome. :)

Lala said...

What I love about this post is that you accept and can get a great deal of powerful information even if you have some fundamental differences of opinion. That shows what a strong woman you are. I only hope that I can become more open-minded in this way. I'd love to read this book! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This book is on my list of things to read. The concept of God is a tricky one and varies for each of us. I am glad that you are secure in your beliefs and are also comfortable with those who may believe in a different God or a different religion. I guess we all have our ways of being spiritual and being closer to God. Hope that makes sense to you and doesn't offend...

Chris in FL--Joyful Mother said...


Love the post and I agree with you 100%!