Sin always starts out so small; it seems so insignificant until it’s not.
It was my senior year of high school and prom season was fast approaching, something I was incredibly excited about. That is, until the words of others began ringing in my ears. Family members began commenting that I needed to lose some weight. They wanted the best for me, but those words soon became my everything. I wanted to be perfect. I wasn’t overweight, but I had a distorted view of my body. I felt like I was less worthy because I had some meat on my bones. I kept holding onto my own thoughts that said, “You’re weak. You’re undisciplined. You’re less worthy.”
I was determined to lose the weight by prom - no matter what. I threw up after any big meal, and I felt like I was making progress. I was losing the weight and I was reaching my goal. It felt so good. My struggle with bulimia would continue with me throughout my college career.
No matter how much weight I lost and how small I got, I continued hearing those lies spoken over me. I became addicted to the feeling of control I thought I had over my body. I loved the feeling of ownership and power over my body - power that drowned out and numbed my pain, even if it was just for a moment. But those brief moments of joy were overshadowed by the shame that was developing within me. I couldn’t get rid of the shame.
I was trapped in a vicious cycle.
What began as a “once in a while” thing soon became an everyday thing; it was part of my routine, my life, my identity. I relate so much with Paul when he cries out to God in Romans 7 saying, “When I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. There is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.”
Despite my shame and the lies that had made my mind their home, God, in His gentleness, was convicting me day in and day out. I heard what He was saying and I knew my addiction was wrong so I tried many times to heal myself. And every time I failed, I sunk deeper into my sin. The shame enveloped me more: I couldn’t even do this right.
While I wanted to fix myself, for myself, by myself, God wanted my surrender.
God wanted to give me His grace. But I wanted the credit and glory for my healing.
“I feel like a monster.”
These were the words I uttered when I finally gave up. Between the tear-soaked paper and the messy scribbles, the prayers I wrote out that night were unreadable, but God met me there. I had been stripped of my pride, desperate for God and his overwhelming grace.
The miracle that happened in my heart and mind was indescribable. God plucked me out of the storm I created for myself and redeemed me. Those desires in that vicious cycle were no longer in me. I know He has healed me from the bulimia that consumed me for years, but in order to do so, I had to first give my whole self to Him.
For years I believed two lies:
1. That if I could be more perfect, I could earn worth, value, and love by my own striving.
2. That I could fix myself in my own power.
Both of those lies were exalting me, me, me, and not the only One who is Healer, Redeemer, and King.
I didn’t understand grace until I realized how badly I needed it.
I didn’t understand surrender until it was my only option.
I didn’t understand freedom until I surrendered to the Healer.
While this miracle is incredible and the healing of the Lord is present in my life, my story is, by no means, over. I haven’t gotten to some perfect ending and I haven’t “arrived”, I am still very much walking this out daily with Him. But I am immensely thankful for this relentless refining process Jesus is gracefully walking with me through. And I am still in process, as are all of us.
And sometimes we need to see someone displaying the hope we often fail to believe we have. I only found true victory when a woman I met, Leah, shared her own eating disorder and redemption from God. For a year after God redeemed me, I didn’t find true victory until I let go of the shame I associated with it, stopped hiding it, and brought it to the light – unashamed to tell my story now.
Our testimonies become another person’s future. A good friend taught me this: our scars are evidence of a God who heals. May we fight the good fight to love the messiest, ugliest, most raw parts of ourselves and the messiest, ugliest, most raw parts of the people placed in our lives. It’s here that unconditional love is unlocked. God’s perfect and healing love shines brightest in the deepest and darkest of messes.