By Jill Coyne
I lay on the ground gripping my stomach and crying hysterically. Thirty minutes before, I had eaten lunch after promising myself I wouldn’t and was now unable to throw up and expel the calories from my body. It was in this moment of complete despair where my desperate measures revealed the extremity of my stronghold: disordered eating.
Never before had I tried to make myself vomit, but I was not shocked by my actions. Disordered eating grows and manifests gradually. My subconscious feelings slowly consumed my thoughts, my thoughts soon birthed action, and my actions became my reality.
In this reality, I told myself I had to earn my food. I ran six miles every day training for a marathon; I burned x amount of calories thus “earning” my food. Soon, however, I developed a stress reaction in my calf bone from overuse and malnutrition and could no longer run.
My former means of control (running) was now gone, so in my devastation I turned to the only other option: portion control. I was no longer earning my calories and so I restricted my calorie intake to maintain my weight. As I decreased my portion sizes I saw pounds steadily come off, and it became addicting.
The more pounds I lost, the hungrier I became to lose more. I wanted faster results. Smaller portions transitioned into skipping meals. I conditioned my body to only consume about 1000 calories each day; it was almost a game: what is the minimal amount that I can eat today in order to get by? It was an obsession.
Disordered eating was my attempt to remain in control. In my mind, my body was failing me; it was my health problems that stood in the gap between me and my beloved marathon. I hated feeling weak and vulnerable, but most of all I hated not being in control. I needed something stable, something I could dominate rather than falling victim to my circumstances dominating me.
Disordered eating is sin (meaning it doesn’t lead to life) for two reasons:
- We are not completely surrendered to Jesus.
We see our problems, insecurities, and circumstances before we see Jesus. Often, our responses to situations beyond our control are similar to Peter walking on water in Matthew 14:22-33. We take our eyes off of Jesus and focus on what is going on around us. We begin to worry and doubt God, and so we take over control ourselves.
- We idolize food.
We are slaves of whatever or whomever we choose to obey. When we restrict calorie intake, we are slaves to food and insecurity (Romans 6:12-16). Disordered eating is an addiction and food is our obsession, our idol.
Our thoughts constantly revolve around food or our bodies-earthly things- rather than the Lord, His love, His goodness, and His will- heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-4).
Experience freedom from disordered eating:
- Completely surrender control of every aspect of your life to Jesus.
Jesus requires all-inclusive, absolute surrender of our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies to Him (Mark 8:34-37). In surrendering to Jesus, we abandon our will and our ways for His.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you are no longer a slave to sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection broke the power of sin. Jesus set us free from sin so that we can be alive in Him (Romans 6-7).
When you are tempted, remind yourself that your body isn’t your own; it was bought at a high price. Therefore, we are to honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthian 6:20). Your body is where the Holy Spirit resides. We are to steward our bodies well, which means nourishing them so God can use us for good works.
Food is a gift from the Lord; it is a good thing! Ask the Father to help you see food and your body the way He does. You can never be more beautiful, worthy, or loved than you already are, no matter how your body looks! Pray that you would honor the Lord in your thoughts about food and your eating habits. This is a prayer that needs to be prayed daily.
- Keep your eyes on Jesus by seeking Him above all else.
Gaze upon the glory of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit will transform your thoughts and attitudes to reflect His righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:21-24). Your priorities will start to change from pleasing yourself to pleasing God.
By remaining in Jesus, we are able to experience freedom from every sin and stronghold, even disordered eating. “Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin.” – 1 John 3:6. When you focus on Jesus, obsessions of this world lose their grip.
And remember, our identity is not in our struggles; rather, our identity is in Jesus Christ and His victory over every sin that leads to death. Through His power, we are overcomers.
Legacy Ladies Note: If you struggle with an eating disorder, we would love to pray with you and/or connect you with a professional to guide you through recovering. Please contact us (anonymously or not) here.