I have some thoughts on this and would like to get some feedback from you readers before I "crystalize" them into an entry. Even though I have been walking free from bulimia and drinking for almost 6 years, I still struggle spiritually and fight depression every year at this time. As I've often said, "spiritual problems have spiritual solutions".
Please take a moment to at least vote ~ discussion of results coming soon.
The story of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s last living son) in 2 Samuel 9 is a beautiful picture of the Gospel. Mephibosheth, lame in both feet and trembling in fear, prostrated himself before the king and asked, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (v. 8).
Under the monarch’s rule in the ancient near east, a deposed ruler’s children and descendants were generally annihilated by the reigning king in order to prevent a future insurrection. David, however, because of his covenant with Jonathan, (in 1 Samuel 20), sought to show “kindness” to remaining members of his immediate household. As the orphaned cripple trembled before him, uncertain of his fate, David had said, “Don’t be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
This “kindness”, alternately translated “loving-kindness”, “mercy”, and “love” is the Hebrew word “chesed”, translated “agape” in Greek, and it carries the image of covenantal goodness and a commitment to give grace for another’s sake. More than just sparing his life, King David had the orphan cripple seated at his own table for all of his meals henceforth. The king had him brought forth from Lo-Debar (lit. “wasteland”), where he was no doubt in hiding for his life. Mephibosheth lived out the rest of his life in the king’s palace, enjoying a son’s fellowship and access to him. What a privilege!
To sit at the king’s table was no small thing. Even today, to be personally seated near a monarch or president speaks of honor, privilege and distinction. God Himself, Lord over all monarchs, repeatedly bids us to come to His table throughout Scripture. The table of the King represents:
1) Freedom (from brokenness). Like the lame exile of 2 Samuel, we cannot presume to hobble up to our Sovereign Ruler on our own strength. Judicially, we would have every reason to tremble in fear, but He has offered us relationship and intimacy even the angels cannot know. Why? Because He is gracious.
2) Family (becoming a child of the King). Because of Christ’s work on our behalf, we are fully accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6) and made co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). No longer an angry Judge (as He is to unbelievers), God is now our loving Father and we are encouraged to approach Him with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Our relationship to Him as sons and daughters is eternal and irrevocable.
3) Fellowship. We are not alone anymore! Part of the joy of the King’s table, as at Thanksgiving or any other celebratory meal, is the presence of others and the joy that comes from relationship with them. When all is not joy and leisure, fellowship with other members of the Body of Christ means being held up at times. More than likely, Mephibosheth had to be carried to King David’s table each day. In fact, he probably had to be carried into the king’s presence when David first sent for him. It’s okay if you need to be helped or even carried in to the King’s table. The important thing is that you are there!
4) Food (being fed and satisfied). Scriptural mention of food speaks of abundance; a dearth of God’s Word (as during the 400-year inter-Testamental period) is described as a “famine”. God’s food is His Word. He wants to satisfy us, regularly and completely, so that we will not hunger or thirst again (John 4:12-14). His Word truly is the bread of life, “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:17).
Ladies, the application to a bulimic should be obvious. Longing for wholeness, for pleasure and satisfaction, bulimia perverts a legitimate and natural longing and substitutes it with a counterfeit. No amount of food can genuinely satisfy our deepest need and heart's desire - only the "food" Jesus gives will satisfy true soul-hunger.
So what are some reasons we are not there at the Lord’s “table” regularly, if, in fact, we have been invited?
1) Are you crippled by who you are? Perhaps you don’t think you are “good enough”, and shrink away from the King’s invitation. Oh, you may have trusted Him for salvation, but you shy away from the intimate, ongoing communion that is so necessary to a dynamic relationship with Christ. Well, the truth is – YOU’RE NOT “good enough” – but because He is, you are freely accepted and totally loved. Don’t be “crippled” by some secret, shameful sin or what is in your past that makes you wonder “how could he love me?” The King doesn’t see you as a “dead dog”, but He delights in pouring out His grace and mercy on you for His own sake. It matters not who you are; but only Whose you are.
2) Maybe you’re still in Lo-Debar. Are you still in the barren place, hiding from God? Or have you, like the Prodigal Son of Luke 15, heard His voice and even dwelt in His household, but have run off to the “wasteland” far from the King and His people? He calls you to Jerusalem – and His table.
3) “Well, Lord, I’ve been busy…” Like the ruler’s subjects of Luke 14, we have all sorts of excuses to keep us from fellowship with God. We don’t know what we’re missing! The blessing God wants to give you only comes if we’re there at His table – and there regularly. Often, we find we are not lingering at the King’s Table because we’re simply not feeling hungry. And why might that be?
Because we’re eating junk. If my kids fill up on Cheese Puffs and cookies an hour before dinner, I cannot expect them to have much of an appetite. The same thing applies spiritually – if we’re filled with something else – eating food that’s not the Word of God – we will be less likely to come eagerly to the table of the Lord when He calls. How much time do you spend watching TV that is not edifying? Facebook? Blogs (even Christian ones) that do not pass the Philippians 4:8* test? Do you go down rabbit trails in your spiritual road, engaging in debate simply for debate’s sake? All of these endeavors (some of which I have indulged at various times) are “spiritual junk food”.
4) Maybe, like Ziba, you’re just serving the wrong master. Have you been born again? Jesus bids all to come to Him, that they may have eternal life (John 5:40).
Like Mephibosheth, choose to eat at the table of the Lord regularly. It is the only way to cultivate intimacy with the Lord, learn what He requires and be changed by Him inwardly in order to obey, and to enjoy true fellowship with our spiritual siblings.
*"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Philippians 4:8).
Some months ago, when I first started this blog, I submitted the listing to the "Something Fishy" eating disorder treatment finder site to include in their directory (under Christian Counseling). "Something Fishy" is probably one of the biggest and most comprehensive sites on the web for eating disorder resources.
So much time has gone by, and I have been so busy keeping up with the correspondence this blog has generated, that I had forgotten all about it. Well, a few minutes ago, I received the following e-mail, generated from a "noreply" address:
I'm sorry, your listing content was not approved.
Listing ID: 2812
Listing Title: Redeemed From the Pit of Bulimia
- Inappropriate content
- Duplicate listing
Well, it's definitely not a duplicate listing, as no one else has submitted a blog entitled "Redeemed from the Pit of Bulimia". Which causes me to closely analyze the other possible reasons for rejection:
Hmm. Interesting charge. Let's see...I write about bulimia, repentance from bulimia, practical considerations in abstaining from bulimia, the spiritual causes and effects of bulimia, the process of restoration from bulimia, effective Christian counseling options for bulimics, and other aspects of bulimia and how to leave it behind. Yup. Really irrelevant for an eating disorder directory.
Huh. That one had me scratching my
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
- pain (2x)
- hell (1x)
Or maybe they deemed my blog "inappropriate" because I'm a snake-oil peddler?? I'll bet that's it! Mention "spirituality" and people are cool with it - no matter that it may be paganism, shamanism, or a deck of tarot cards you're endorsing. Mention the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, and people start to get weird.
We Christians are subversive folks. We love others enough to want them to know real and lasting joy, and we have the audacity to say there is life and hope only in Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and if He is Lord of YOUR life, He is Lord over this addiction.
That is the truth, and you may choose to walk in it. If proclaiming it makes my ministry "irrelevant and inappropriate", so be it. I care for and pray for each one of you, and His love is greater than any you will ever know.
Jean is careful to note that, as in all things, moderation is important and neither our bodies nor fitness itself are to become idols.
The Virtuous Woman Blog: Bodily Exercise Profiteth Little.
In my book, I write about the importance of telling someone for accountability's sake. I also discuss why we are instructed in James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." Concealing a sin only makes it worse, although at the time we want only to cover our shame. We are not thinking about the consequences of concealing the sin, and how exponentially worse the result will be.
From 1995-2003, there was nothing more terrifying to me than the prospect of my husband finding out about my bulimia. Even years after my deliverance, confessing the past terrified me. "Why does he need to know about that?" I rationalized. "It's ancient history. What he doesn't know won't hurt him." Whether it was the Holy Spirit's conviction or my own innate sense of logic, the counter-question that came to my heart was, "If it's all in the past and doesn't matter, why are you so afraid to tell him?"
On November 14, 2008 I told him about the bulimia, how it had started, how I had hidden it, and how, with God's grace and strength, I had ultimately walked away from it. I detail that conversation and the aftermath in my book, which, God willing, will be published next year. The upshot of it was that he was shocked and appalled that I would essentially lie to him for 13 years - it made him question what else he didn't know about me?
In my relaying of the facts, I actually forgot to apologize and intentionally seek his forgiveness, which he pointedly mentioned several days later when he chewed me out. On November 17th, I wrote in my prayer journal:
"Hope there will not be more consequences to this sin....want God to keep healing; keep using. Need assurance from God I did the right thing and didn't just make everything worse. I never "sense" God's presence anymore........Feel like I'm in a nightmare and can't wake up - tried to do right thing and it backfired. Need healing in marriage; am afraid, humbled, and broken. God cares for me? Maybe so, but we still have to reap what we sow. I have no motivation to continue right now; try to please him [my husband] or win back his trust. Also unsure where God is in all this, and what His take is on it."
I have long struggled to know exactly where I stand with God, usually equating His love for me based on my husband's. If my husband is mad at or disgusted with me, God must be too. On November 14th of last year, the bottom fell out of my spiritual life. Numb at first, I was unable to even shed tears after the initial showdown. For the first time in half a decade, I could not pray. I'd make half-hearted attempts, decide God didn't want me around, and duck my head in shame. The days slipped by while the thick fog seemed to close in around me.
It hurt just to think of Jesus, because if I allowed myself too, I would feel how much I missed Him. I had to hold God at a distance and stay stoic - if I allowed myself to love, I would become vulnerable. A wall of brick had to be reconstructed around my heart for my own protection. Never, ever let anyone see your weakness, I told myself. Keep up a strong image, at all costs. I castigated myself over and over again - first for committing the sin of bulimia in the first place; secondly for concealing it for all those years from my husband; lastly for telling him.
If I had never told.....none of this would have happened. And I would still be okay.
I guess it was never God's plan for me to stay "okay". For some reason, He allowed that terrible wounding, and the long, dark night of my soul that followed. Sometimes, I still don't feel like it's over, although I know that it is. My husband knows the full story and is very supportive of my book and the online ministry I have to other Christian women still struggling with eating disorders. None of this would ever have come about if it hadn't been for that agonizing decision to tell, and accepting the consequences that followed (including losing my husband's trust).
The lingering effect is that, some days, I still find it difficult to trust God with my heart. To believe that He is truly there, and cares about all the details of my life. My Reformed theology demands that I hold such a high view of God that I cease to matter, because, after all, "God does not exist to meet the emotional needs of the believer." But the fact is, there are some days where I feel "emotionally needy". I do not turn to food any longer, and that thought does not cross my mind. I am not about to post about my feelings, doubts and fears on Facebook, nor will I suck other believers dry by calling them up to vent or chat. It is at that moment, just then, that I long to turn to God again - as I did so spontaneously when He was freeing me from drinking and bulimia. For some reason, since I felt abandoned by Him last year, I no longer trust Him completely enough with my feelings to do that.
I wonder what John Macarthur would think of that.
There is a wound there, still not completely healed, but it is healing. Slowly. Becoming razor-sharp theologically never filled that gaping hole in my heart, although it did offer immunity against false doctrine which would otherwise have wounded me still further. I still long to be counted as God's friend, yet I know I will never be worthy, and find it easier to "work" and "minister" for Him to "earn" His love than I do to spend time alone with Him.
My mind keeps going back to last November. And I duck my head, go about my housework, and hope that someday it will all, truly, be okay.
My answer is a resounding YES, I do.
Sugar and simple carbohydrates (think white starches) are almost guaranteed to set off a binge, no matter how well-intentioned the bulimic or binge-eater may be about taking "just a little". As I wrote about in my earlier entries "Practical Considerations", a period of abstinence from these types of "trigger foods" is needed as the bulimic walks toward freedom. Later, as attitudes towards food relax and "normalize", it should be safe to add them back in moderate amounts, but you will find it MUCH easier to avoid bingeing by exercising some common sense in this nutritional area. (Just be sure to eat some carbs - healthy, non-binge-inducing ones such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.) You get the idea. As I've said before, I'm a huge fan of common sense.
Interestingly, the day after this discussion about why recovering bulimics should avoid sugar, Yahoo ran an interesting article, "The Top 7 Worst Foods for your Mood". Now, we all know that everything we read on the internet is Gospel truth (insert tongue firmly in cheek here), but in THIS case I get to say "I told you so". You will note that ALL of these foods are processed and high in carbohydrates, including the alcohol, which if you are bulimic you should NOT be drinking anyway. (See? That common sense thing again).
Here is the piece in full:
The top 7 worst foods for your mood
- by Heather Wagner at Better Homes and Gardens, on Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:58am PDT
While a bagel may seem like a safe morning staple, according to health expert, author, and certified nutritionist Samantha Heller, white grains, especially when ingested without protein, can cause a spike in blood sugar. Your body reacts by pulling your blood sugar down, causing you to feel lethargic. So while that morning bagel may fill you up and give you a momentary sense of well-being, you’ll regret it an hour later when you’re tired, cranky, and you forget the client’s name (again) on your 11 a.m. conference call.
Mass-produced packaged meats, such as salami, bologna, and hot dogs (basically anything you could procure at a gas station) are loaded down with nitrates, a common food preservative. According to Christine Simmons of HeathAssist.net, nitrate-containing foods can cause migrane headaches, as well as tension headaches—that lovely head-in-a-vise feeling. If you've gotta get your cured meat on, look for organic or locally sourced options.
The cupcake craze shows no sign of ebbing—any birthday, engagement party or office celebration will inevitably trot out these frosted sugar-bombs. According to Susan Biali, M.D. in Psychology Today, carbohydrate-rich foods enable tryptophan to enter the brain, which produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter that, simply put, makes us feel great. But the surge of energy caused by the combo of white flours and white sugars is followed by a major crash, as well as mood swings and agitation, making for not-so-happy birthdays.
According to Men’s Health editor David Zinczenko, white chocolate is a sweet imposter. It’s not technically chocolate, as it lacks the cocoa solids to stimulate feel-good boosters like serotonin. So you get all of the sugar (and subsequent sugar crash) of real chocolate with none of the benefits. If you’re going to indulge, stick with the real thing—the darker the better.
FAST FOOD FRIESFrench fry, mon cherie! You tempt me with your crisp saltiness, tender insides, and heavenly golden sheen, but you’re bad for me, and even worse for my mood. Not only are fast food fries loaded with refined carbohydrates, sugars, and a whopping salt content, health expert and "Recipe Doctor" columnist Elaine Magee, MPH, RD reveals that many contain “bad fats” (saturated and trans fats), which take hours to digest, putting you into a sluggish food coma. If you must indulge (and I understand if you must), make your own!
While a drink or a glass of wine at the end of the day releases the brain chemical beta-endorphin for a momentary rush of buzzy contentment, remember that this feeling is fleeting. Leading toxicology expert and author Sherry Rogers, MD warns that alcohol is a depressant. The more alcohol you drink, the more it depresses your mood, interferes with cognition, and causes reckless or aggressive behavior. You know that sad, surly person at the end of the bar shouting at the TV? Don’t be that person.
TRIPLE SHOT FLAVORED LATTE
I know, pumpkin latte season is here with gingerbread lattes soon to come, but caffeine makes you feel energized by triggering the pituitary gland to produce adrenaline, and if you drink too much too quickly, this sharp increase in adrenaline can increase anxiety. According to WebMD, side effects of too much caffeine also include headache, agitation, chest pain, and ringing in the ears. The added sugars in flavored drinks will give you a momentary rush, but in an hour or so you’ll start to feel like it's January 1st.
This is...humbling. It both amazes and humbles me. I am awed and amazed that God would not only FORGIVE me, but that He would then use my testimony for fruitful ministry to His other daughters who are still struggling. This is what is meant by the title, "Redeemed from the Pit".
At the same time, I am humbled and even a bit nervous - having any sort of ministry platform is a huge responsibility. I am now accountable before God for everything I write, and the counsel I give His daughters. This is why I am so thankful that Martha Peace called my attention to a subtle, yet critical error in my theology a few months back. Being able to edit the chapter in question before the book goes to print will no doubt save me much regret and anxiety, knowing I could have mislead someone with my words.
To the reader who googled "Does God forgive eating disorders?" the answer is YES, my friend. YES, He does...and so much more. In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, "He renews and He transforms, He redeems and restores - He makes all things new...."
As Dave Barry would say, "I swear I am not making this up."
Funny, that accusation, in that NO biblical counselors worth their salt (myself included) take so much as a cent from their counselees (although purveyors of humanism, ie. secular therapists, often charge over $100 per hour for experimental theories and speculative treatment which does no good). Counseling for money is a huge ethics violation in the biblical counseling world, as well it should be. The whole counsel of God has been given to us freely; it is a privilege to help others apply His Word to their lives.
In fact, if a woman cannot afford a study Bible, I gladly purchase one for her out of my own pocket.
I wonder what the "snake oil" is that she refers to? Let's examine the meaning behind the term "snake oil". According to Wiki,
Snake oil is a traditional Chinese medicine used to treat joint pain. However, the most common usage of the phrase is as a derogatory term for compounds offered as medicines which implies that they are fake, fraudulent, quackish, or ineffective. The expression is also applied metaphorically to any product with exaggerated marketing, but questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit.Second sentence drives home the irony of her charge - "compounds offered as medicines". Hmm, kind of like the psychotropic drugs routinely prescribed to eating disordered patients, depite the fact that they have absolutely no clinical success in decreasing bulimic behavior or anorexic tendencies?
Today's "snake oil" comes under names such as Celex, Celebrex, Lexapro, Prozac, Pamelor, and Elavil. Tricyclic anti-depressants and SSRIs have been so over-prescribed and proven so ineffectual in the long run that several years ago the FDA issued a statement cautioning against their use in children under 18. As the organism becomes dependant on the unnatural chemical effect, the patient requires an ever-increasing dosage.
Yet the mindset towards food and eating remains untouched by the drug prescribed to cure it. NOW who's the "snake-oil peddler"?
Ah, she argues, "eating disorders are PHYSICAL diseases!" (Right. And they've isolated the Compulsive Shopping Gene, too.) Actually, no; they are not. Not a single criteria for the definition of "disease" has been produced, in nearly 30 years of research. To meet the clinical definition of "disease", it must be proven empirically that the condition has an organic origin. Eating disorders certainly LEAD to physical symptoms and, yes, even diseases (such as renal failure), but the mindset and resultant behavior are not neurological in nature.
I am then informed that "repentance is not a viable medical cure" and that one should seek only medical treatment. (Tell that to the tens of thousands of us former bulimics who are now completely free - both of the behavior, and of the toxic thinking fueling it). Heaven forbid anyone should desire to turn away from this self-destructive lifestyle, or take responsibility for her own choices. That's wildly subversive stuff! Think of the implications!
This is from someone who endorses lap-band surgery as a cure for bulimia, yet (by her own admission), if hers were to be removed, she would probably go back to bingeing and purging tomorrow (her words; not mine).
Now you tell me who has the better answer.
What's sad, in my estimation, is just the blindness. Not only in this particular girl for whom my heart breaks - but the willfull, widespread blindness that people embrace, choosing to believe a pill or "looking within" or increasing their self esteem will get them out of their misery. By nature, we turn to counterfeit pleasures seeking satisfaction, but ultimately are enslaved by them (if this were not true, addictions and besetting habits would not exist). Yet rather than embracing personal responsibility and turning to God for help, there is something in us that prefers to see ourselves as victims. We want to be told that we are "sick", that our addiction is really a "disease", because it takes the responsibility off of our shoulders. The entire basis of behavioral psychology rests on humanism, which makes man his own god. Rather than embracing what we NEED to hear, if we buy into humanistic lies, we will pay good money to those who will tell us what we WANT to hear.
While doing research for my book, I was genuinely surprised at the sheer number of psychologists and psychiatrists who have walked away from the profession once they realized it was built upon a foundation of sand. Like a house of cards, once the lack of empirical evidence is brought to light, they are forced to admit that psychology is nothing more than a collection of subjective, ever-changing theories. It is not medicine, and as many disenfranchised psychologists have admitted, it is not a "science" in any sense of the word.
Yet desperate people cling to it's promises, frantically reaching for the next "magic cure" that will numb their feelings so they won't have to face them; hoping for something that will help them convince themselves that their addictions are "diseases". They are threatened by hearing that, yes, they are responsible for their own behavior and there is a God Who will hold them accountable for disregarding His counsel.
Learning that eating disorders, drunkenness, and other addictive deviant behaviors are sins rather that diseases should some as a relief; not an unpleasant shock. This realization means that it is possible to put them behind us, once and for all. How is this not preferable to being a passive victim of circumstance? In nouthetic counseling, even in clients where physiological conditions may play a role, (such as OCD; PPD; etc.) the emphasis is always put upon what the client CAN control. This produces better results, more lasting change, and ultimately happier clients than endless "self-awareness" and pill-popping that are staples of secular therapy.
And it certainly works better than lap-band surgery.
ETA: Thirty years ago, the American Psychological Association itself stated that psychology is not and cannot be a science. (The National Science Foundation subsidized the lengthy study from which this conclusion sprang). Hunt also quoted Karl Popper, a philosopher of science, as declaring that psychological theories have ‘more in common with primitive myths than with science’. In the 1960’s, psychologists themselves began questioning the prevailing notions that roots of anti-social behavior lay outside of the patient himself. O. Hobart Mowrer, Research Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, published The Crisis in Psychiatry and Religion in 1961. The book was ground-breaking in that Mowrer questioned the validity of institutionalized psychiatry and refuted the prevailing psychological theories of the day.
 E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., Freudian Fraud (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1992) p. 217
Did you know.........
...that bulimia is a serious sin (Proverbs 23:2, 21; Philippians 3:19; Titus 1:12)?
...that there is NO sin of which we cannot repent, and no sin too big to be forgiven (Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28; James 5:15)?
...that NOWHERE in Scripture do we see Satan or his demons putting a "curse" on anyone?
...that NOWHERE in Scripture do we see "generational curses" put on believers?
...that the practice of "pleading the blood" is notably absent from the Bible?
...that "territorial spirits/demons" are a doctrine of man; the Bible does not uphold their existence?
...that NOWHERE in the Bible do we see instructions for "breaking off" a "curse" under which we supposedly live?
...that most dogma concerning "spiritual warfare" was developed in the last 50 years?
...that saying Satan has us in bondage is giving the devil far too much credit (if we are in Christ)?
...that the power of ALL sin and the "curse" of death was broken at the Cross? (Col. 2:15)
...that prayer and repentance is the key to overcoming addictive sin?
...that if you are in Christ, you are NO LONGER a slave to sin (Romans 6:16-22)?
...that there are no shortcuts to holiness? (Galatians 5:7-8)
...that the road to freedom is found only through steadfast prayer, renewal of the mind with the washing of the Word, and progressive sanctification - not through sensational experiences, or ecstatic emotion?