The idea of inviting God into our health may seem foreign - what does that look like? What does it mean? I will be sharing more on this topic throughout the coming weeks, but I decided to tell my story again to dive deeper into this idea of allowing God to work inside our health.
My mom tells me that as a little girl, I used to ask her for an operation to make my thighs smaller. I was only in second grade. I don’t remember asking her those words, but when I hear them, I do remember the feelings that I had about my body from such an early age.
There is a lot of research about eating disorders out there, but it’s still very hard to say who will develop one out of the risk factors. I had several of those risk factors; well-meaning parents encouraging a “clean plate”, an older brother who could eat anything and everything, and a very naturally sensitive disposition. I also didn’t have a very strong foundation of true love and support within my family – and I didn’t have a foundation of faith in God.
Although I grew up attending an Episcopalian church, it was infrequent. I remember going through Confirmation classes, but I don’t remember what I actually took away from the experience. When I joined a travel soccer team in seventh grade, we’d be required to travel all weekend, which led to my family’s attendance in church being reduced to only Christmas and Easter.
I grew further and further from God, and more and more
entangled in my eating disorder.
My struggle was deep.
I had been to counseling, but never received treatment. I hid my eating disorder from everyone I knew, but it absolutely controlled my life - this went on for 10 years. It wasn’t until I met my now-husband, Bobby, a faithful man, that I started to look back to God and ask questions.
One day, while we were dating, Bobby and I got into a really bad fight. I can’t remember what the fight was even about, but that night I knew that it had nothing to do with anything, and everything to do with my feeling totally crummy and in the “throes” of my addiction.
That night, Bobby went to bed angry with me. I stayed awake and cried. Suddenly, I felt a strong sense of needing to share my struggle with Bobby, something I had not felt the need to share before.
So I wrote him a letter and placed it on the pillow next to him while he slept. I settled in downstairs and waited, hoping he’d wake to find the letter before I chickened out and ran back up to the bedroom to destroy it. I wanted to take it back several times. The desire was strong - but a very confident and comforting voice kept telling me it would be okay.
I now understand that voice and presence was God.
God was sitting with me in one of the biggest battles I had come to face of good versus evil. The enemy continuously tempted me with the idea that I could continue to feed the monster within, rip the letter up, and keep my secret safe. “No one will ever know”, the voice of the enemy shouted throughout my life.
But God showed up, when I didn’t even realize I needed him the most.
Yes, I had prayed in the past. I had prayed in the moments when I felt totally scared about how I was throwing my life away by giving in to my disorder. I knew that my life had spiraled out of control over my addiction.
But it wasn’t until that night, on July 16th, 2013, that God held my hand firmly and said “I’ve got you, and it will all be okay.”
And it was.
The next morning, Bobby read the letter. Although he was tremendously disappointed and shocked to discover my hidden secret, he chose to love me through it. Since that day, I haven’t had an issue with an eating disorder, but truthfully, it almost felt too easy. I felt like I hadn’t done any of the work, besides committing to a healthy future with Bobby. We started going to church more regularly, and one day I decided to give my eating disorder to God. I literally wrote “Bulimia” on a piece of paper and tacked it to the cross. I had already given this over to God, but the physical act of taking my burden, my sin, to the cross and giving it over to Him reinforced my belief that God was still holding my hand.
My faith took time to grow. Over the past few years, my relationship with Jesus has gone through times of complacency, and at points, my addiction briefly resurfaced. I would try to rationalize it, but the truth has power. 1 Corinthians 2:5 says, “so that your faith may not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (NIV). Through scripture, I am reminded that I can never be the one to master my demons alone. It is only by putting on the armor of God that I can fight, and win.
God has shown me this time, and time again to give it all to Him, to entrust my burdens to Him. He promises to protect me with the armor of His power.
If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. God is with you. You are His daughter, whom He loves and accepts unconditionally.
You do not have to lift a finger to deserve His love, you just have to open your heart to let His love in.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)