On my eleventh day in the hospital, the nurse checked the bed scale and sucked in air. “Whew. You definitely lost way over ten pounds in here.”
In my conscious hours, I lay in that bed with a built-in-scale and tried to avert my eyes from the white board facing me on the wall of that ICU room. In the bottom right corner, my admission weight was written in kilograms. I spent a lot of time trying not to convert that stupid number into pounds. Initially, they wrote a new weight each morning next to my admission weight. Each new weight was significantly lower, and I recoiled inside. I also felt that familiar sense of relief. As the days ticked by, that admission weight remained glaring unrelentingly at me.
We do not own a scale. That’s ED recovery 101: A basic rule. But still, over the past two years, I have been painfully aware of my increasing weight. When one is on a plethora of medicines to treat a chronic condition that causes a great deal of weight loss, it is expected to gain weight with proper treatment. In my mind, however, it is not welcomed.
Just two weeks ago, my children had a telemedicine appointment with the pediatrician for an allergy check. When the scheduling person called to prep us for the appointment, she requested a temperature and a weight. I responded matter-of-factly, “we do not own a scale.” There was momentary silence on the line, and she said, “Okay. That’s fine.”
A month ago, however, I lived in a bed with a built-in scale, and the number screamed at me from the dry-erase board all day and all night for almost twelve days, until I was well enough to get smart and ask for them to kindly erase it for my peace of mind. So my last 36 hours at the hospital, I was relieved of the haunting presence of my gravitational relationship with the earth in kilograms.
As I agonized over that number, horrified when my mind wandered into taped-off territory and converted it into pounds, I was reminded of thirteen years prior, when my mom gently remind me of all of the “extra” stuff on the bed that is weighed along with my body. The nurse, in present time, also reminded me that they often don’t “zero” out the scale with the mattress, pillows, and blankets on the bed. This leaves a massive margin of error in regard to the accuracy of that dreaded number.
Whatever the case, when I am at my weakest and most vulnerable, I do not want that loaded number staring me in the face.
In an ideal world, it wouldn’t matter. It would simply be another vital sign, with no bearing on my personal self worth or my value as a human being. Unfortunately, and naturally I suppose, it still haunts me. This is why we don’t own a scale.
And so when, on that eleventh day, my nurse Jade reassured me of my extreme weight loss due to my sepsis and bi-pap induced diet, I breathed a sigh of relief. But in the back of my mind, I held to the reality that if I maintain recovery, this weight loss would be incredibly temporary. My doctor reminded me of that last week during out telemedicine session.
“You know you will gain it back,” She said.
“If I didn’t gain it back, it would be a problem,” I replied in verbal agreement.
I nearly died. In that window of time, the one that was filled with excruciating pain, massive trauma, and unnatural amounts of suffering, I was granted the answer to my desperate eating-disorder fueled prayers.
While lying in that ICU bed, I promised myself that I would never pray for weight loss again. This was not how I wanted to shed pounds.
Of course, I do not believe that God works that way. He does not tease us. He does not answer prayers in abusive ways. But still, the reality that I had been so desperate to go back to a “thin” body that I had prayed for weight loss hung like a bitter reminder of my misaligned priorities.
Those who do not suffer from eating disorders may read this and think it absurd, but I am confident that those who find themselves battling the strongholds of body hatred and disordered relationships with food will resonate with this internal dialogue. I also believe that many of us even without diagnosable eating disorders are touched by the worship of thinness that is so pervasive in our culture.
I wish that I could say that God completely healed me of my eating disorder thoughts overnight that Saturday night, March 29th, when He worked wonders in my heart and body. That struggle continues, moment-by-moment, as I lay the idol of weight on the altar. The numbers still close in at the peripheral edges of my awareness, as I work in alignment with the Spirit of God to choose higher thoughts. For whatever reason, I still daily battle the urge to worship thinness, as Paul battled his thorn in the flesh.
This post is more for the purpose of awareness; of bringing dark to light; of speaking to something that is often unspoken and hidden in shadows.
And again, the Bible verse that The Skit Guys chose for this week rings true and perfect in my life as well: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14
I am not fearfully and wonderfully made only when I am below a certain weight. I am always fearfully and wonderfully made. He doesn’t love me only when my BMI fits within a certain category. He always loves me. I was no more valuable when I was wheeled out of the hospital after 12 days of hell and XX pounds less than I was when I arrived. I had always held the same level of value, even if the world might not agree. God’s understanding of my thoughts, intimate knowledge of my heart, acquaintance with my every way, and intimacy with me is in no way dependent upon the number on the scale. That number is man-made.
Where can I go from His Spirit? No where. His Spirit is present with me in the highs and lows. Where can I flee from His presence? I can’t shrink out of His presence or outgrow His presence. I will never be too big or too small to be held in His right hand. The darkness of body hatred will not ever be too dark for Him, for He is intimately acquainted with me and cares for me as deeply today as He did when I was my thinnest. He still holds my heart, which will never change in value under His watchful eye.
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret.” (vs. 15). I’ve never been hidden from Him: Not when I tried to shrink away, and not when in shame I tried to hide my extra curves. He’s always known me, and His love for me has never changed, whatever the scale says.