This is a question I get from many, MANY bulimics: "Can I truly be saved/can I lose my salvation if I am secretly bingeing and purging?"
CCEF counselor David Powlinson carefully and compassionately answers this nuanced question, sent to him by a young man struggling with secret sexual sin. Scenarios and details of sin differ; human nature and the solution to sin found in the Person and work of Jesus Christ remain the same:
Can I Be Saved If I Am Living in Constant, Secret Sin? CCEF
Nothing wrong with that, I suppose; although in the greater scheme of things, I don't see how getting 1,000,000 people to click a button is going to evangelize unbelievers or edify Christians. However, the very philosophy behind the "invitation" intrigued me, and I'd like to share it with you as encouragement.
As I type these words, it is just past noon on Christmas Eve, 2010. My daughters are in the kitchen baking cookies; my husband has just assembled the doll carriage and Razor Scooter which "Santa" will leave under the tree tonight; and the boys are playing. Thanks to a certain Jewish oncologist, I am enjoying the first Christmas Eve in 5 years I have not had to work, and as the stuffed grape leaves and soup are all prepared, I am sitting here blogging....church is five hours off. All of these fun, relaxing activities (well, except for blogging), evoke anticipation - the expectation of something special. Of course, we as believers celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ - all of these festive touches (even the presents "Santa" leaves for the little ones) are sidebar niceties to the real event. Our five-year-old gets much more excited about Jesus than Santa Claus - the fact that he leaves presents is just icing on the cake for her...a mere party favor at Jesus' birthday celebration.
Some people celebrate "Christmas", but want to leave Christ out of it. In essence, they want to come to the party, but ignore the guest of honor. This is how the world, by and large, celebrates Christmas. But think about that....isn't that what we do, when we get so wrapped up in holiday preparations and anxiety that we lose sight of Him? For me, my prayer life often suffers this time of year because of the painful emotions "seasonal depression" I still struggle against. I still find it impossible to be joyful on demand. It makes me feel as if I'm "missing the party", because I can't seem to get in that joyful, celebratory mood that I ought. And yet, I love Jesus and want to honor Him by being at His party and glorifying Him. To have a morose or dismal attitude is to show ingratitude and rebuff the One Who gave us everything - the whole meaning of Christmas is bound up in Christ's purpose for coming to earth. The manger was eclipsed by the shadow of the cross.
If you are still in the grips of an eating disorder, this battle may be even more intense for you. You wish to be at the party, celebrating and worshipping Jesus, but fellowship (either with family or church) has the added obstacle of food addiction for you. You may be feeling isolated or alienated; ashamed because of this struggle. How can you be carefree and enjoy the Guest of Honor while the connotations of the holiday pose so much temptation to you? You may stay home from the party entirely, because you feel you simply "cannot do it" - and yet you know that if you did, you would be spurning the very One Who requests your presence.
There was a time when I couldn't have imagined a holiday without alcohol. And yet, when I began to walk through those moments of temptation in a deliberate, conscious awareness of Christ's presence and approval, the temptation faded. He was there with me, even though I could not see Him or "sense" Him, I chose to walk by faith. The same, believe it or not, applies to food addiction. No matter what is on the table, you don't have to "abstain" (restrict) or binge/purge. While you know intellectually you are no longer a slave to sin, in the face of holiday temptation, this knowledge may seem like nothing more than a pious platitude. However, think about tonight and tomorrow as Jesus' Birthday Party. You are an invited guest, along with ALL of His friends and all the host of heaven. If this party were literally taking place within the courts of heaven, and you were seated at the table with the King, would your focus be on the food?
I promise you that if you really consider the meaning of what, and Whom we are celebrating, you will have a new perspective. Go to the party. Honor Him with your presence. Praise Him for Who He is. And remember that He is right there next to you, fellowshipping with you and the other spiritual brothers and sisters He's blessed you with so abundantly. Enjoy Him, enjoy His people, and have a blessed and joyful Christmas!
I was pretty nervous...hopefully it didn't seem too obvious! I really hope I spoke the truth only, and that God was somehow glorified in what I said.
As you can see, insecurity (what the Bible calls "fear of man") takes many forms. Even though I haven't struggled with food addiction or drowning my feelings in alcohol in seven years, like all people, I still have to guard against this sin daily.
This is a difficult season for anorexics and bulimics for many reasons, not the least of which is worrying about "what other people think". This year, I counseled a young lady well on her way to overcoming anorexia and bulimia who struggled with the fact that her own immediate family members "watch" her when she eats dinner. In the case of someone still in the throes of an eating disorder, multiply that anxiety about tenfold! Unfortunately, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays do tend to create as much stress and anxiety as they do joy, peace and goodwill for anorexics and bulimics. Part of this comes from the "food-centric" way we celebrate; another reason arises from tense interpersonal relationships with family members.
Broadly speaking, unresolved anger, bitterness, hurt, and unforgiveness will contribute to someone continuing on in addictive patterns. If I am holding a grudge against my mother, and I must see her socially for several hours, it will be more difficult to refrain from my old crutch: stuffing my angry, distrustful feelings with food - and then vomiting those spiteful feelings away. Sometimes family can stir up negative memories and emotions we would rather leave behind us.
Another way insecurity rears its ugly head is worrying about our appearance - specifically, about our weight. As we surrender this idol to God and we learn to eat in a God-glorifying way, we gain weight. It's healthy, necessary, and inevitable. However, we often are tempted to take our eyes off of what our Heavenly Father thinks, and obsess about the attention we believe our weight is drawing from others (although positive). I remember when I was first acheiving a healthy weight, feeling embarrassed and even a bit violated when relatives would comment on how "good I looked since I'd gained weight".
It is bound to happen, but if you are in Christ, He has promised "never to leave [you] nor forsake [you]". (Hebrews 13:5). The antidote to fear of man is not to focus on own assets or attributes; it is to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving to the Father. Regularly praise Him for Who He is, and what He has done in your life.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
When we get caught up in this all-too-human tendency to obsess over other people's opinions, compare ourselves with others, or become so concerned with how others view us, we need to remember the message of the Gospel and how to apply it. The Gospel is the Person and work of Christ; all that Jesus was, is, and shall ever be; all He has done and will do. This is important to get straight in our minds, because many Christians tend to see the Gospel as only having application for salvation. Until you are rightly affected by the Gospel in your day-to-day life, you will not be rightly motivated to live for the Lord Jesus Christ.
He has promised us His eternal friendship (John 15:15) and an Advocate with the Father (John 14:16;26). Repeatedly in the Gospels He exhorts us to live for an audience of One: God Himself (Luke 12:4-6). Stop dwelling on what others can do to you (or think of you), and imerse yourself in the Truth of His Word. He will dwell in your heart through faith this holiday season, (Eph. 3:17) and fill you with His peace and joy if you allow Him to. Pray your way through all stressful family situations, and remember that He had them too (John 7:3-9) and understands the pain.