Finding a Safe StructureNo discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it’ (Hebrews 12:11).

Structure has to do with the ability to be disciplined and ordered, to tolerate frustration for a larger goal, to have patience and diligence, and to delay gratification. Many people have deficiencies in structure, often stemming from a lack of good parental structure in childhood, and they have little ability to rein in their impulses when they feel hunger. Like a small child or a drug addict, they live only in the now and have a hard time postponing something now for something better tomorrow.

If you have some of these tendencies, you will need to find or create a structure of relationships, love, and accountability that can build those things inside you. The type of structure you need depends upon what will work best for you. You may not need to be in a weight-loss group if you have a regular group of people with whom you can meet, open your life, and grow.

A great deal of healing can be gained when you are in therapy with someone who can work with both the emotional issues and the weight issues that are involved. However, you may need something intensive, focused, and specialized that concerns weight alone, such as a formal weight-loss group. In these groups, the only subject is weight, including victories, defeats, tips, and advice. Finding a good group, some good people, and a good program can be the missing piece in a weight-loss plan. Matthew 9:12 tells us that God doesn’t heal until we know we are sick: ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’

A regular exercise routine can provide another necessary structure. Workout buddies, classes, and trainers can help you stay motivated and committed to consistent physical exercise. Left to ourselves, we tend to create our own worlds and distort our goals and values.

However, when we make a commitment to someone else, and that person expects to see us at a certain time and place, it helps keep us in the world of reality, outside of our heads.

By Dr. John Townsend

Read more about John.