I’ve been wringing my hands with the urge to write this for the past few months, but to be honest, I never thought I’d muster up the courage to. My name is Emily, and God has set me free to recover from an eating disorder.
Okay, now that I can breathe again, I think you should know why it’s even relevant that I would share such intimate details of my life with you. I believe in obedience to God. I know that He has great plans for me, and I’ve also learned that He uses the pain from our past to help heal the wounds of others.
With the encouragement of my mom and other family and friends, I am finally sharing why I believe so strongly in telling other women about their beauty and worth in Christ.
Growing up, I had a lot of issues with self confidence. It didn’t help that in high school I developed chronic health issues that are difficult for others to understand. I’ve always been a bit different, but instead of embracing who I was in God, it made me feel depressed and anxious.
When you combine that with digestive issues that make eating difficult, food starts to become the enemy. Every bite makes you nervous about how you’ll feel after you consume it. No matter what you do, the lies from the enemy inside your head remind you that you’re never good enough anyway.
We live in a world dominated by the media telling girls and women what we should look like. Be thin, but have curves. Have flawless skin, that’s neither too pale nor too dark. Be the image of perfection that cannot exist in a human being.
Even though I’ve always been thin, it hasn’t immunized me against the effects of these messages. Truthfully, my lowest weight had nothing to do with my eating disorder. During my second year of college, I developed hyperthyroidism. I lost ten pounds and was always weak and tired. I thought I was dying.
As I became healthier and went back to my normal weight, I found myself being challenged by body image, food, and the lies that pervade our society. That’s when three revelations dawned on me:
1. Weight doesn’t really change the things in life that are beyond my control. It also doesn’t make me more worthy or lovable.
2. Eating might always be challenging for me because of my IBS, but food has never been, and never will be, the enemy.
3. I can’t live a life that’s fully surrendered to God while holding on to my eating disorder.
While those first two truths are extremely valuable, number three has been the key to my freedom. A year ago, I made the decision to really recover while at Winter Camp with the youth group I help lead. Although I was eating like a normal person, my heart and mind still weren’t in the right place. I wasn’t all-in.
It was at this camp when I felt and saw Jesus move in incredible ways. I helped students come to know the Lord and saw young women and men devote their lives to God with such passion that I wanted it too. So I surrendered–right there in the crowd of hundreds of students. I quietly sobbed and told Jesus that He could finally have all of me. I wouldn’t hold back anymore.
It’s been a full year now since this decision, and I’ll tell you that though recovery is hard, it was so worth it. Though I still have IBS, it is better managed and I can embrace food again. I have found my identity and worth in Christ, and it has changed the way I see myself and others.
Although I still struggle with depression and anxiety at times, I no longer feel held captive to those dark emotions. God has lifted that weight off of my shoulders. I have a long way to go with self confidence, but I’m growing. I’m blooming.
What I want my girls out there to know–whether you’re a friend, family, a student, or a reader who has just stumbled upon my blog–is that you’re beautiful. You don’t have to change your size or the food you eat to make yourself feel worthy of love. God has always seen your worth.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV)
I also want you to know, lovely one, that if you’re struggling with an eating disorder–or any other kind of mental or emotional battle–that you need to speak up! The devil wants to lock you in a box of shame, but God has come to set you free. Please tell a pastor, counselor, parent, or call a hotline. You are not alone in this fight.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV).
The only way we can help change the world is by letting God have control of our own lives first. The love of Jesus is the only perfect love that exists, and what I want more than anything is for everyone reading this to experience this freeing love. I want it to crash over you and cleanse every part of your life.
Lovely reader, I want you to be filled to the brim with the love of God, so that you can pour it out on this thirsty and broken world. That is why I shared my story.
This is my purpose–to be loved by God and to make His love known.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)
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