“Did you seriously just throw away the bun because you didn’t want to eat those extra calories?” What was I supposed to say? She was my one of my closest friends. I could not just lie to her. But that is exactly what I did, and owning up to it was what caused me to realize what was going on with me. I was struggling with what closely resembled anorexia, and I was scared to death.
How in the world did I get here? Me? An eating disorder? No way. There is no way someone like me could struggle with this. Anorexia? Isn’t that when you don’t eat anything at all? I am just really careful about what I eat . . . These are thoughts and questions that swirled through my mind shortly after this newfound realization. I was so scared that I met with an adult who had some counseling experience. I came out of that conversation with some practical ideas but also more questions and tears than I thought were possible.
Being as I have a Type A personality, I went home and did my research. I cringed as I typed the word “anorexia” into Google to see what would come up. I started reading article after article. I found that to be clinically classified as an anorexic, I would have needed to lose a higher percentage of my original body weight. However, the root of the problem is psychological. My obsession with my weight was still a very real thing.
As I read and studied more, I realized that disordered eating comes from a lack of control, or at least what seems like it. In my junior year of college, I felt as if I had lost all control. The defining moment for me was when I realized my identity and self-esteem were being misplaced and put in people and things. Once those people and things left and were stripped away, I was broken and I had no idea what direction my life was headed.
For a few months after that, I tried to dismiss that I was struggling with this issue. I did not want help from anyone, but I also wanted out. I wanted this to be fixed. I wanted it to be gone, but I did not know how. Finally, after talking to a mentor and friend, I decided to seek out professional help. From there, I was able to unpack my feelings and understand the root of my issue and take practical steps toward healing.
While this issue took its toll emotionally and physically, it also had a strong effect on me spiritually. During this time in my life I chose to place my value in a person instead of my Lord. Satan used that mistake to warp my mind about who I was and how I looked. Because of my world falling apart, I felt as if I meant nothing to anyone.
However, as I look back at this experience, I see how the Lord took such a terrible time in my life and used it for His good. As I was seeking healing from this death grip of disordered eating, it seemed as if no one could understand why I had such a difficult time putting food into my mouth. I felt lonely and outcast.
However, as I ventured to work at a camp a few months later, I found myself being able to relate and help those girls who struggled with warped body image, and even those who struggled with the possibility for disordered eating. The Lord used my struggle to make their world a little less of a lonely place.
My struggle had warped my self-perception I had believed in a false truth. I had come to a point where I believed the lies that society tells us about beauty. Through professional help, I learned it was essential for me to retrain my brain with the truth—a truth that covers the spans of all space and time, from generation to generation; a truth that would set me free from this bondage.
God also showed me that He truly is a jealous God. I feel that because I took my sights off of my Lord and Savior and put my trust in man, God let me fall face down to the lowest of lows in order to be reminded who reigns supreme in this world and in my life. He humbled me to the core—to the point where I had nothing left to do but look up. My mind constantly raced with the thought, This shouldn’t be happening to me. Not me. It can’t. But it did. And God has made something beautiful out of that struggle.
Here I am, about a year and half after realizing I had a major struggle that was much more than just going on a “diet.” People look at me and tell me I look better; I look healthier and happier. They are exactly right. However, that does not mean I no longer have this struggle, because I do. I tend to consider it much like the thorn in the flesh that Paul struggled with. In spite of that, I can remember the truth from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: God’s grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore I will boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can rest upon me. When I am weak, then I am strong.