So let’s recap so far:
First and foremost, we know that in order to get better, SHE has to WANT to get better. Period. No one can make her get better but herself. She has to make the decision to give up her eating disorder.
Secondly, we know that to recover, she needs to a) Identify the Lie and b) Replace it with the Truth. She needs to get to the core of the Lie that is feeding her eating disorder – (not good enough, not loveable, unworthy, etc) and replace that with the truth – that she is worthy of love, that she does deserve to get better, that she is forgiven, that she is loved for who she is, not what she accomplishes.
That’s all well and good on paper. Sure, it sounds lovely and easy enough. “Oh, wonderful, we’ll just have a delightful little conversation over some tea and fix her right up!” Wrong. The fact is, it will be more like a Tough Mudder. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of these extreme endurance challenges, but the Tough Mudder is a team-oriented, 12-mile obstacle course. When people finish up these insane tests of strength and perseverance, they’re covered head to toe in mud, soaking wet with sweat, physically exhausted and worn down.
Yeah. It’ll be more like that.
But how, then, did I actually get better? How did I actually adopt recovery? Even though I still battle with the ED voice, I am in recovery. I am alive. I am healthy. How did I do it?
One word: Jesus.
If I were left to my own devices, I would not be better. I am better only because of the work that He is doing in my heart.
You see, in my post about Intimacy, I talked a lot about the walls that she has built around her heart: She’s keeping everyone and everything out of her heart and out of her mind so that she can focus entirely on her eating disorder. She’s blocked out the world to embrace her ED – including God.
That is so very hard to hear, I know. And it is not something that she is doing consciously. It’s not like she’s saying, “Oh I’m turning my back on God because I want to starve myself.” No. That’s not how it works. What happened is that in her obsession with her eating disorder, she has essentially blocked God out of the picture. He is nowhere in her mind. She’s given herself to her disorder, and has built an impenetrable fortress around it that no thing or person can break through.
When talking about trials and suffering in life, a common theme that comes up is, “Well, if there’s a God, then why did He let this bad thing happen?” “Why did he let me suffer?” “Why didn’t he just save me?” Well, it’s the same for the eating disorder too. “Why is God allowing my daughter to starve to death? Doesn’t he CARE? Why doesn’t he DO SOMETHING?!”
Imagine this scene. You’re drowning in the ocean. Thunder and lightning, rain beating down sideways. The waves are crashing on top of you, one after another, relentlessly pummeling you as you struggle to keep your head above water. Where is God? Why is He letting me go through this? Why doesn’t He save me? Where the hell is He?!? Doesn’t He care?!
First of all, yes. He does care. He cares a lot. His heart is breaking for you. And here’s the thing. He never left. He’s been right there all along, right next to you as you’re drowning. And he’s thrown you a life preserver. You know those old-fashioned red and white circular life preserves, a la the Titanic? Yeah. One of those. He’s thrown you one. His heart is breaking, watching you struggle, but He has given you a way out. That life preserver has been there the whole time, you just have to choose to grab on. That’s the thing: God is a God who loves us – Who wants us to love Him. But He’s not a dictator. He’s not a tyrant, so He gave us free will to choose to love Him or not. And in that same way, He gave us free will to choose to grab onto that life preserver that He so desperately wants us to cling to.
That’s the answer to the eating disorder. That’s the way she’ll get to recovery. She has to choose to grab onto the life preserver. It’s right there, but she has to reach out and hold on.
Jesus has never left her side during her disease. He has suffered through it with her. His heart is broken with sorrow for her. He hates to see His daughter in pain and starving herself. And every moment, He’s trying to break through those walls that she’s built around her heart that are shutting Him and everyone else out.
For me, worship music is what helped me see that Jesus was there with me in the midst of my suffering. It was the line, “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that Cross” in the worship song, Here I am to Worship. We were singing it in Chapel at R. and I just broke down. I remember I literally felt the walls around my heart crumble and I let Jesus in. I was sobbing and I was smiling. It was the first time I had truly smiled in over a year and half. And after I let Jesus in, He did the rest. Fr. Mike Schmitz once said that “God does his best work in caves.” Meaning, when Jesus died, after He was crucified, His body was put in a cave – in the tomb. Well, after three days, when they rolled the tomb’s stone away, Jesus had risen. He had beaten death. That’s precisely what He will do with you if you let Him. He will take what is dead and give it new life. He is an expert at taking what is broken, and making it whole again. But you have to invite Him in and allow Him to do so.
And you’re thinking, “But you relapsed…” Yes. I did relapse. I let the voice of ED come back into my head and I “let go of the life preserver.” But my recovery happened when I kept my eyes on Jesus, and allowed Him to fill my heart with His love.
And that’s been how I’ve stayed in recovery ever since. I have to continually fill my heart and fill my mind with His word and His love. I constantly have Christian music playing in my apartment, or am listening to Christian podcasts. I go to church everyday. I wear a cross necklace that I haven’t taken off since Remuda. I have to keep my focus solely on Him, otherwise, yes, the voice of ED will come in and wreak havoc on my recovery. I have to choose Jesus and choose life.
You see, that’s the thing: There is a hole inside all of our hearts – A part of us that feels incomplete. It is often referred to as the “God hole.” It is the broken part of us that we try to fill, unsuccessfully, with different things: alcohol, sex, food, pornography, achievements, designer shoes, cars, material things, and yes, eating disorders. We strive to fill that emptiness we feel with all these things that will never satiate that desire for love that only God can fill. Because once Jesus is in your heart and filling it up, then the Lie that is controlling her will be silenced. She will no longer feel unworthy, unloved, not good enough — because she will be filled with His love, and will know that she is precious in His eyes. That she is His daughter, and is enough, simply because she was made in His image. That there is nothing to strive for, because just her being a daughter of the King is what gives her her worth: not any achievements, or skills, or looks, or a particular number on the scale or a particular BMI. No, she is enough because He lives and dwells within her.
That is the key to recovery. That is the key to truly kicking the eating disorder once and for all. She has to let Jesus in. Just give Him a crack in the fortress wall around her heart, and He can work miracles. But she has to decide to let Him in. She has to decide to grab on to the life preserver. He’s not going to force Himself into her life. She has to let Him in.