A Painful Anniversary

Exactly a year ago today I confessed my bulimic past to my husband, even though it had been over five years since God had delivered me from that addiction. The memory of that incident, and the painful, lonely months that followed spiritually are still difficult to think about.

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.


  1. This is on point. I especially like your comment about how being "razor-sharp" theologically never filled the hole in your heart. I'm a stickler for solid theology too, but it can't replace the risk of letting God know me and inching closer to Him. I'm praying for you!


  2. Thank you, Barbara.

    For a while there, after the first "wound" that came from charismania, then later after the season I describe above, "sound doctrine" and honing my debating skills became like anesthesia to me - it made me feel good. For a little while. And what was the net result, in terms of my relationship with God?

    Increased distance.

    He is soooo good, though. He is so patient and knows how to meet each one of us where we are "at", so to speak - not just to comfort, but to bring conviction, where necessary (like in regards to my pride). It just proves His utter faithfulness...even when we're so very unfaithful and undeserving.


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