How I Actually Got Better

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.

39 responses to “How I Actually Got Better”

  1. Jesus truly is the answer to life’s struggles. The scripture says, Those who put their trust in Him will not be disappointed. I’ve had my share of “pits” if you will. Although the trials were severe and scary, He brought me through. “When you go through the waters I will be with you. And through the fire, it will not burn you.” He is with us through it all. I truly believe everything we face on earth, the answer is in Jesus. Sadly so few realize this.

      • What I somewhat don’t understand (as a person not sure where she stands with her beliefs) that if God is real and wants to help with things like This why doesn’t he just show us…instead of being mysterious and Christians saying ‘read his word’ why doesn’t he reveal himself and show his love to trump any doubts about our purpose, origin, reason / how and why we are here….

  2. I love “Here I am to Worship” too one of my favourites and agree praise songs have often lifted my downcast spirit, continue to express the Love of Jesus as this world need believers like you

  3. My husband and I put on some gospel music this afternoon after Church and he remarked at what a sweet spirit it brought, and that we should play this music every Sunday. What you are saying, and I agree, is that we need this “music” playing on a loop in our lives at all times. beautiful.

  4. This is so beautiful and relatable. Thank you so much for writing this (and hey! Fr. Mike Schmitz! I love listening to that guy).

  5. You recently found my “blog” and so I have been reading yours, starting, as you recommend, at the beginning. I’ve read Feb 2015 and now March 2015 up to here. As a 66-year-old man who has had four younger sisters, a wife of 42 years, two daughters, and five more long-term foster daughters, I have seen (and not recognized) a lot of what you are describing. Of those 12 or 13 girls/women closest to me, I realize now that the voice of ED has haunted at least three of them, and probably still controls one, who, unfortunately, is not close enough to me, emotionally or geographically for me to affect. But I pray for her — for all of them, and I know, as you describe here, that Jesus is right beside each one of us at all times. Having been surrounded by that many girls all my life, there is nothing I don’t know about females, I suppose, but I just don’t always see it. At my Meanderthral site I have published the little book, The Practice of the Presence of God, which describes the peace and simplicity in faith. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that boys and men, too, have great burdens of inadequacy and self-loathing at times. I broke free of my teenage self-hatred when my family moved from one state to another so that I finished my last two years of high school not only in a whole new state but a whole new regional culture. Clean slate. Nobody knew how awful I thought I was, and not only that, I apparently wasn’t as outwardly ugly to my new friends as I thought I was to my old friends. But that’s another story. Mercifully I have never suffered with depression or anxiety or any of those things. Some elements of faith, especially the profound simplicity of it, have taken me until my sixties to appreciate. I am writing now about what I call the opportunity paradox — the phenomenon that I have been given the opportunity to live long enough to know the love of God, and the forgiveness, as I now do, while others have their lives cut short before they (apparently) have the same opportunity. I have to wonder, Why me? Anyway, I’m working on that piece and it will take some time. Thank you for opening yourself up to the world as you have. I plan to continue reading your story, chronologically, until I’m current. And I will selectively recommend that certain others look closely at it. You may not have a great many followers, but I can conceive that you will affect someone, and you may never know it. Please keep writing!

    • Thank you so much for sharing this, David. I really appreciate you reading my words and for your kind encouragement. You’re right – we all have been blessed with so many things. And how beautiful and powerful is faith. I’m so glad that you’ve found that and know the love of our Father. And wow, what a beautiful family you have. I will definitely keep them in my prayers. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the read! Sending big big hugs xox

  6. Hello beauty beyond bones – I don’t know what brought you to read my blog and like it a few times but am glad you did as my daughter is now struggling with ED. I’ll try and read your story but it may take me a while.

    • Hi Scot, I’m so sorry to hear that this is hitting home in such a close way. I will definitely keep your daughter in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there. big hugs to you xox

  7. A writer I suggest, if you are unfamiliar, is Max Lucado. His work is beautiful. Right now, actually, I’m reading his book, “When God whispers your name.” I think you will love what he has to say, and he has a lot of various books, and devotionals to choose from. I have a huge Christian music playlist I listen to on youtube, which is why I started writing about various Christian songs on Sundays, to help get the word out, and let people know. There will always be comfort, even in the smallest of places. Music speaks to me, I’m sure, the way it speaks to you. Lyrics sometimes are a way to speak what our heart feels.

    • Oh I have heard such good things about Max Lucado. I’ll have to pick up a book of his. Hopefully and audiobook 🙂 Oh yes, music is *such* a huge part of my prayer life. it’s my favorite way to worship. Thanks again. xoxo

      • Even though it is a child’s book, I don’t care 🙂 I seriously recommend buying the book, or listening to it, You Are Special, by him. About these handmade wooden people that give stickers to each other, a rating. And one little guy always gets the dark stickers. So he is told to meet the Maker. It is a beautiful, and comforting reminder of how Jesus sees us. You are always welcome. 🙂 T.R. Noble

      • I’VE READ THAT ONE!!!! oh my gosh I remember that one! I don’t know the context in which I read it, but I know it was recently and it made me cry 🙂 SO GOOD

      • He is the author of that book! I didn’t even know it till I bought the book because it is an encouraging story. And I’ve been a fan of him for years. <3

  8. Yep, sounds like a proper step 1 and 2 from the 12 step tradition, knowing that we will wreck ourselves with our own tools and understandings. I’m glad you were able to bring the walls down and let God in. I’m very happy for you.

  9. Hi there, I am enjoying reading your blog (though maybe ‘enjoy’ is the wrong word). Although I have never had an eating disorder, I am surprised by how similar the thinking patterns you describe are to depression, which has plagued me most of my life. And Jesus is the only way out for me too. I would love to be healed completely, but like you, that hasn’t happened yet. However I do know that in a way depression has been a blessing in my life because it has driven me closer to God and made me dependent on Him.

    • thanks so much Isaiah. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my words. I’m so glad you also know the saving and healing power of Jesus. Thanks for sharing your story. hugs xox

  10. You’ve been reading my blog for a while and I finally started from the beginning. Not sure if you know that my song is How He Loves. That was my game changer song for me back in 2008. It can still bring me to tears when I am caught off guard. My sister battles ED so I am enjoying this blog. Is their an email link so that when you write it comes to email?

    • Wow that’s my you so much for reading my story. I will definitely keep your sister in my prayers. Yes! There’s a “subscribe by email” button on the right hand side. (On the computer). If you’re viewing this on a smart phone, it’s down at the very bottom below the posts. Thanks so much. Hugs and love xox

  11. You have such an amazing and beautiful story of God’s redemption in your life! I’ve been there and I agree in my life of sin, when left to my own devices all I did was bring destruction and almost death upon my life. O am so grateful for God sparing me, because HE didn’t have too, He loved me when I hated Him and while I hated myself, HE redeemed anyways!

    • Thank you again. You’re on a reading roll!! God is so good 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  12. This post seems like the appropriate place to stop for the evening, though I’d much prefer to ignore slumber and read all the way to the “end” of this masterfully cataloged journey. I only wish I’d stumbled upon this earlier, 4 years earlier to be exact, though I guess I was too distracted with my first year of college (and consequently first breakup) to come across these gems. As a fellow believer, it’s so inspiring and encouraging that you grabbed onto that life preserver again and again. Many of the causes and effects of ED parallel those of pornography, of which I unfortunately know from first-hand experience. Though my recoveries of late have been short-lived and my relapses more frequent than I’d care to admit, you are absolutely right that recovery is a day-to-day, moment by moment choice, the only true recovery found in the arms of the Lord. Battling sin is a life-long endeavor, especially when the voice sounds like your own. Your happy birthday piece in a previous post was so…profound and unsettling. I teared up at that split-second of mental transparency, but I’m so thankful you shared it, for your own sake and for the numerous lives you’ve positively impacted through it, myself included. I’m still in shock at how devastating and debilitating that awful voice can be, creating utter self-loathing when you (along with millions of others) have SUCH a beautiful heart and amazing perspective, with so much to offer, your body notwithstanding. I have a suspicion that the Lord will have helped restore some or much of what is broken in the next 4 years of reading, that certain bridges have been rebuilt and walls (or even whole rooms) torn down. Even so, I pray continual endurance and emotional/spiritual healing for you. Also, just realized this comment is suuuper long on an incredibly old (or just incredible!) post, so no pressure or need respond!

    • Hi Friend, gosh I am so touched by this heart felt response. Thank you for reading my blog! And thank you for sharing your story. You’re right – a lifelong battle for sure, but praise God He restores and brings us to total and complete healing. Also – I really appreciate your prayers. It means the world. Hope you’re having a beautiful weekend. Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much Adriana! Cheering for you in your recovery! Hugs and love xox

  13. hi! thank you so much for sharing your story. I started reading from the beginning and just read this post above. I have been in ED therapy for 2 years this April and hearing your story gives me hope that one day I can live ED free- or as you say muffle that CD that’s constantly on loop in your head. And boy, as you know it is tough! A fight every day. I did not grow up religious and fear that I will not have the same life line that you speak of here. I can create my own in my own desire to free myself from my ED, but I was just wondering if you thought that was possible. If I don’t practice religion, will I still find freedom like you did? I understand this is a touchy subject and I just cannot thank you enough in advance for sharing your story. stories like these give me hope that I won’t be alone in my own ED forever. Hope you are safe!

    • hi Maggie! thank you so much for sharing your heart and your story. oh yes – it’s a fight, and i’m cheering for you!! there absolutely is hope! and you are not alone!!! thank you for that powerful question – i can only answer from my own experience, but my faith — Jesus — He *is* my recovery. His strength is what got me through when I couldn’t go on. That’s where I drew from. All of the other more surface level sources — such as self help, body positivity, mindfulness, etc….they all fell painfully short, because at the end of the day, it was just about me. How do *I* feel, how can I make *myself* feel loved, etc. Putting my faith and grounding my self worth and value and recovery in *Jesus* took the crux of the matter *off* of *me*, and onto *Him* – which is an incredibly important and powerful destinction, that has honestly made all the difference. My decision to love myself enough to live a recovered life comes from the fact that He loves me so much that He freaking died for me. I don’t want to get “preachy” — but that is what has worked for me. I do believe that you can find freedom from ED, regardless of a faith like. I would just invite you to really search where you find your self worth and the source of your self love. Is it how you treat people? Your heart? Your generosity? Because when you have a firm foundation there, it allows for a sturdy ground on which to be free 🙂 cheering for you! stay well! Hugs and love xox

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