This week, I am writing the theology section of the NANC exam and don't have a lot of extra time to blog. However, there are several amazing stories in my inbox which I would like to share with you. One young woman has recently come to Christ, repenting of her addictions and just beginning her Christian walk. Another is beginning to make strides in seeing her food obsession as sin, and wrote to thank me for my counsel and encouragement. Stephanie, (below) is sharing what Christ has done and continues to do in her life. Stephanie used to be enslaved to anorexia. Thanks to God's loving-kindness and patience, she was able to be transformed in her mind and spirit and now lives for God. With the help of the loving nouthetic counselors God brought into her life at Vision of Hope (a NANC-affiliated biblical counseling center in Indiana), she is now free and is able to use her testimony of God's faithfulness to encourage others. I hope her story blesses you.
My name is Stephanie. I am twenty-nine years old and I struggled with anorexia form the age of twelve until about two years ago. I struggled growing up, trying to fit in as part of a small community where most people strove to look perfect, thin, and to “have it all together.“ I also believe the anorexia was affected by abuse I’d suffered in the past.
I don’t want to go into any details about my particular eating disordered behaviors except to say that they completely dominated my existence. I had no time, energy, or love for anything or anyone else. My life was me, me, me. Starving and losing weight was my way of life. If the scale read a low number, or I could fit into a certain size of jeans, it meant I was okay, I was accepted, and I was safe. It meant that I could control my life and keep myself from getting hurt in any way. Of course, I had to isolate myself so much in the lies I was living that by the time I was full-blown into the eating disorder, I had no true friends. I was hospitalized several times and told, “Stephanie, you may as well get used to dealing with this--anorexia is a lifelong struggle, something you’ll never fully overcome.” Even my Christian friends would tell me that.
What a hopeless way to think! I knew there had to be a better way, and I knew I needed to find the truth about all of this. I was blessed to have some amazing Christian women come alongside me and help me search the Scriptures for truth that was lasting truth--God’s truth.
I’d believed in Jesus for a long time…I did grow up in a church, but I didn’t fully understand God or God’s character…..I didn’t KNOW him as my Savior, my Provider, my Protector, and someone who LOVED me more than I could ever understand. I saw God as just having another set of rules I could never perfectly follow.
What I’m learning now is this: My life is not just mine to live. I have a purpose--and it is to glory God and enjoy Him forever! I have a Savior who has done what all those doctors told me could never be done--He set me free from anorexia and showed me a new way to live. He loves me SO much--way too much to let me stay far from Him and in a life consumed with lies. I can choose to obey what my sinful mind tells me is okay….I can skip this meal…..or lie about that one…..OR I can choose to follow God’s Word, which tells me, “Do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).”
Do you get that? God bought you with a price! You are of value to Him. You are worth too much to Him for Him to let you continue in a sin that could ultimately destroy your body, your mind, and your relationships with God and others.
God also wants me to love and serve others, even those who have hurt me (Luke 6:27-36). I cannot truly and fully love others if I am spending all my time obsessing about food, my weight, and looking a certain way. And I certainly cannot really love others and serve them when my body is broken down and unhealthy.
I realized that the main lie in the middle of my anorexia was that it would keep me safe. Safe physically, safe from disapproval, safe from abuse. And lies, they are! The eating disorder did not keep me safe from any of these things. In fact, it put my life in danger. It gave me more anxiety. It alienated me from everyone around me. And it kept me from serving the Lord with my whole heart. I was too busy serving myself, though I didn’t see it that way at that time. I was living in life-dominating sin.
God is slowly teaching me more and more about who He is, and I’m realizing that I want to love and obey Him--and not like a “set of rules I have to follow perfectly“--but obedience out of a heart that loves Him and values Him more than anything else in this temporary life.
I am purposefully studying God’s character--His love, His goodness, His sovereignty. I want to be able to obey him in all areas of my life--not just in the way I care for the body He’s given me, but the way I reach out to love and serve others, and the way I live every minute of my life.
If you’re struggling with any kind of eating disorder, please remember these things. God is good. He is merciful. He is love. He stands ready to help you through this. And it is not a life sentence. There is TRUE FREEDOM from eating disorders.