Opinion: We Must Bring Our BrokenNess To God To Be Truly Healed
Editor’s note: The full story can be found on Madelaine’s blog: Drinking Dreams Like Water. This story was used with permission.
Recently, the Lord has been beckoning to me over and over, calling me to lay my struggles down and surrender in a way that I haven’t ever before. It’s a demand, a command, a mandate. As Christians, we are commanded to lay down our flesh…to lay down our hurts, our past, our frustrations and the things that continue to leave wounds much longer after the scars fade. Because God is bigger than our flesh and the “thorns in our sides,” we are ordered to give those things to Him as only He is enough to bind the hurts they leave behind.
Thankfully, God is a God who loves to show us where we’re needing spiritual Neosporin, so it’s always been abundantly clear to me the things that aren’t of him that I need to surrender.
It’s one raindrop in the torrential downpour of the steps that I have remaining in my journey of walking in the freedom that has been graciously given to an underserving girl. And, it’s only a small piece of my story, but it’s one of the ones with the most jagged edges.
So, so many people worldwide have this same hurt, and have suffered far more than I have from its destructive patterns. Disordered eating and body dysmorphia are two demons that are disguised in the shiny, eye-catching costumes of the world, ones that attract, embrace, consume, and overtake far too many. They create a broken brain, damaged thought patterns, abnormal tendencies, and a level of disgust for the creation of God – something that is meant to be sanctified, made whole, and, eventually, utterly perfected.
I remember the first instance where the lies of Satan deceived my brain. I was eight. I was still losing baby teeth, not even four feet tall. My best friend was telling me about her mom’s diet and how she was eating some of the same foods that her mom was supposed to be eating, and it suddenly occurred to me that I should start dieting.
Then, in middle school, I always felt as if I needed to change my personal appearance because I was the only girl who hadn’t started looking like a woman. I still had a child’s face, still wore child’s clothes, and, even though I didn’t realize it then, still carried much of the childhood innocence that my peers had lost completely. Girls in my class loved to prey on the physical appearance of others, and I was at the receiving end of those comments on multiple occasions. I was seen as the fat one, even though I wasn’t really at all. It’s chilling just how powerful another woman’s opinion of you can be, particularly when you’re at a very vulnerable stage of life. Eventually, my food rules became increasingly restrictive, peaking around 13 or 14 years old.
At 16, I had more rules that I followed, ones that had more of a psychological component to them.
It was at this point that my mom became involved and I did enter counseling for my eating issues and body image, but I was a smart girl and knew exactly the things to say in order to progress through counseling sessions and convince the counselor that I was fine.
My final year of high school, when I was 17, I got incredibly ill, which caused me to drop to 99 pounds. Instead of just feeling the weight of the pain and sickness I was in, I also felt a sense of accomplishment and pride that I’d dropped to a double-digit number on the scale. I read a post somewhere that was meant to be encouraging to those struggling with food issues, saying “Would you rather have hip bones or pizza?” It was meant to probe the reader to say pizza, because it’s delicious and life is meant to be enjoyed. But, I can honestly answer hip bones, every single time.
Throughout my first two years of college, I had a pattern of eating where I would wake up and eat an apple or banana to take medications with. I would then skip lunch and not eat again until around 6-7 p.m., where my “dinner” would consist of 13 almonds or something of equivalent caloric value.
My mom cried with me on so, so many occasions; the Lord gave her strength that I don’t even think that she knows she has.
If the amount of pain my earthly mother feels based on my mental struggles is so destructive, imagine how much it wrecks the heart of my Heavenly Father. Imagine creating a vessel made to carry light, joy, peace, love, gentleness, and truth to the world, then that vessel gets so caught up in a broken cycle of lies that destroy its use for ministry.
What has struggling with an eating disorder and warped body perception cost me?
My mental sanity, eating a meal in peace, a normal relationship with food, a sense of self-worth, any shred of self-confidence, enjoying my time in middle and high school and college and losing my hair.
Every person who fights the mental disorder of body dysmorphia and struggles from disordered eating has a unique experience, and my story is just one puzzle piece in the countless jagged pieces that make up the puzzle that is eating disorders, body image and self-hatred. To some, my story is mild. To others, it’s relatable, and to others still, it’s unimaginable and completely foreign.
I would beg anyone whose soul has become a foothold for these demons of Satan to seek help, seek reassurance, seek the Lord and what he says of you.
I will also offer a word of caution: this particular fight is one that requires daily surrender… every hour, every minute, in a unique way. I’m not saying that other issues aren’t a daily surrender, but fighting the enemy attacking your brain using this specific mechanism requires a vigilance unlike others.
Eating a full meal, three times a day, is still a struggle for me. I catch myself looking in the mirror to check my side profile upwards of 15 times per day, and I’m actively trying to break that cycle. The fight that I’m describing is not over. In fact, it’s not going to be over until Christ comes again and finally destroys the father of lies forever, robbing him of his position of power over the world and incinerating any pretense of control. Readers, that will indeed be a sweet, sweet day. Until then, the war is exhausting, long, and, often, too much to bear. Whatever your personal war is, I can guarantee that it isn’t over and it won’t be until that glorious day either. I can also promise that there are going to be days where you won’t fight the battle, and you’ll feel weak.
But, beloved soul….
I am weak.
You are weak.
We are all weak.
He is not.
He is strong.
He is not prey to the enemy’s lies.
Let me reassure you, God knows. God sees. God listens, believes, uplifts, strengthens, and readies you for every circumstance.
What I am saying, however, is that acknowledging the hurt, the pain, the ugly, the undesirable, the darkness and surrendering that to the Lord is a freeing, powerful declaration of war. Wage that war daily, never give up the battle.
A few weeks ago, at 21 years old, I ate a bagel with a dear friend. She didn’t panic when she ate hers, and I didn’t panic when I ate mine (too much, at least). Isn’t it funny how God can use the littlest things to speak to us, in the midst of everyday life? In any circumstances?
John 14:27 – “Peace, I leave with you; My peace, I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid.”
Fight boldly. Do not be afraid, beloved.
Madelaine Shreeman is a Guest Writer.