It’s Eating disorder awareness week 2020. The stakes are high. The temptation is still (or even more) staggering. Some days, I’m on my knees, broken by the the intensity of the lies that the enemy still throws at me regarding weight, food, and body image.
I’ve been living out recovery for over seven years, and miracles have piled upon me like layers of evidence for the days when my faith wavers. But I lived in the depth of anorexia for twenty years prior. Old habits die hard, and the enemy’s lies that date back to my days of learning to talk still provide me countless opportunities to practice the act of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to the authority of Jesus Christ.
So here’s the bottom line: this battle with anorexia is a physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and relational. And I fight it every day, every hour of my life. And I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor. I’m a walking miracle. I’m evidence that a diagnosis of “chronic” or “life-long” or “fatal” can be dissolved into the unveiling of a full and abundant life.
Eating disorders at their core are not about thinness, fatness, food, starvation, or obsessive exercise or compensatory behavior. For me, it was about lies from the pit of hell that propelled me into patterns of self-destruction and efforts toward self-annhilation. I believed it was my duty to eliminate myself: to shrink and shrink until I was no more. This anti-gospel fueled my entire existence for two and a half decades, and my method became starvation.
Until I started to believe the true gospel:
That I was loved, called, chosen, and created in the image of the Most High God.
That my life is valuable and intertwined in the lives of others who are loved and love me.
That it’s appropriate and delightful to take up space, to live into my God-given potential, and to delight in the substance of my physical being—Christ in me, manifest in my love.
We heal in relationship. We get sick in isolation. We heal in discomfort, as we make peace with the full spectrum of existence, recognizing that the thin spaces where heaven touches earth require that we actually occupy our imperfect, clumsy, awkward, and delightful physical bodies.
Eating disorders are incredibly complex and heartbreakingly prevalent. They involve a million different factors, making each person’s struggle unique and also lonely. But I am learning that the eating disorder messages can be tools. When the lies start their deafening scream, I am alerted that something in my life needs my attention, and my first step is to hit my knees.
Therefore, I am thankful for this weakness: Because my struggle causes me to lean more heavily on God, and God can handle whatever weight I put upon Him. I’m never too heavy for Him.
Recovery requires patience, relationship, and resilience. We have that in Christ and in community. Don’t give up. Reach out. We are dealing with layers here, which may continue until we see Jesus face-to-face, and that’s okay.
Don’t fear the growth. It’s what you were created for.
Don’t shrink back.
Risk relationship, honesty, love, and trust.
Know that pain is not the enemy. Neither is grief. And there is a wide cloud of witnesses cheering you on.