Continuing our discussion on masks, for me, the reason I would wear the mask of “I’m fine” was because I was afraid to show my brokenness. I was afraid to show anyone my insecurities, my fears, my doubts. I was afraid to show anyone that I wasn’t perfect. So I wore a mask.
ED is a master manipulator. His number one priority is ruthlessly guarding the eating disorder. He wants to keep you entrenched in your anorexia and control your mind, body, and soul. So when ED gets the inkling that you’re contemplating taking off your mask, breaking down the barriers and opening yourself to receiving love, it’s like a giant alarm goes off. Sirens start blaring and ED goes into “lock down” mode and will do absolutely everything in his power to make you doubt yourself – to make you feel undeserving of taking off the mask. He’ll make the Lie seem insurmountable.
And this is where ED truly becomes devious.
“I’m too broken.”
How many times have we thought that? “I’m too messed up. Too far gone. Hopeless. What I’ve done is beyond the point of forgiveness. I’m too dirty. If people were to see the real me, they’d hate me and never forgive me. I’m too broken.”
Sweet girl, you can just take all those lies and chuck them out the window. They are lies from the pit of hell being told to you by ED, who is trying to protect the eating disorder with everything he’s got. Remember: ED wants to kill you. That’s not an exaggeration. Literally. ED wants to steal, kill, and destroy your body, mind, soul and spirit, and will not give up until he does. So he feeds you those lies.
And he’s good. He’s really good at making me believe those things. He’s really keen and cunning, making me think, “You know what? I am a really horrible person. My past is unforgivable. I’m never going to be able to get out of this despair, so why even try? Why even take off the mask and let someone in? My life is in the gutter, and I deserve to stay there.”
I know a lot of you are probably feeling stuck in that place. I know I was stuck there for a long, long time: Not feeling like I deserved forgiveness. Feeling too dirty and guilty to be loved.
Here’s what helped me:
There’s a story in the Bible of the woman caught in adultery. And I know, I know…I’m going there. I dropped the “B-Word.” But just hear me out.
Many people believe this woman was Mary Magdalene, but it never actually identifies the woman’s identity. And I kind of like that, because it allows me to see myself as this woman.
Anyway, in John:8, a woman gets caught in the act of adultery. The penalty for this crime was being stoned to death. Let me say that again: they would throw rocks at her until she died. This woman had been caught in some random man’s bed. She was guilty. Dirty. A prostitute. She was, in every sense of the word, broken.
But then Jesus comes on the scene. Here is this woman at court, in front of the men who will stone her to death, and He says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And with that, they all turned around and left. Then Jesus was left alone with the woman.
So Jesus picked up the woman from the ground and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” The Jesus replied, “Then, neither do I condemn you. Go now, and leave your life of sin.”
This is such a comforting image, of Jesus, stooping down to pick up the broken, guilty woman.
But to really understand this passage, we have to know what “condemn” truly means. I never really understood its meaning growing up, and it wasn’t until I learned the definition that this story really spoke to me.
Condemn means: to express an unfavorable judgement on; indicate strong disapproval of; to pronounce to be guilty; sentence to punishment; to declare incurable.
To declare incurable.
How many times have you or I thought that our eating disorder is simply incurable. That my past makes me incurable. Hopeless. A lost cause. That I will never be able to overcome this despair?
I see myself so much in this woman. Here I was, broken. I was a shell of a person: dirty, outcast, guilty. I was 78 pounds, and just entrenched in my anorexia. I was lying to everyone I loved. I was killing my body. I was so self-centered that I was driving God out of the picture. I was prideful, vain, deceitful. I was harboring absolute hatred for myself – I hated the creation of God: me. I was the picture of brokenness. I was dirty. I did not deserve to even touch the sandals of the Lord. I felt unworthy to even come before God in prayer. I couldn’t look Him in the face. I was too broken.
“I do not condemn you.”
That’s what Jesus said to this woman who was just as broken and dirty as I was. She was caught in adultery. A prostitute. She was guilty. Unclean. Just like me.
“I do not condemn you.”
I do not declare you incurable. I don’t judge you as guilty. I don’t sentence you to punishment.
Jesus responded to this woman with love. He picked her up off the ground, saved her life, affirmed her, and set her free from her past. He didn’t say, “I’m not going to judge you right now, but just don’t come back, ‘cuz tomorrow it’ll be a different story.” It wasn’t, “Oh, you’re catching me on a good day…I’ll give you a free pass..today.” No, it was, “I don’t condemn you.” Period.
And then, here’s the kicker: He said: “Go, and leave your life of sin.”
It was not, “I’m not condemning you right now, but you’re going to have to carry your past around with you as a burden for ever. You’re going to have this terrible shadow follow you around from now on.” No. He set her free. “Go, and leave your life of sin.” He picked her up from the dust. ‘Leave the past in the past — leave it in the dust, and be free.’
There is nothing that is too dirty for Jesus. There is nothing in your past that would have made Jesus go, “Ohhh, she’s guilty of that?…Stone away!” Nope. Nothing. And you know why?
Why did Jesus not condemn this woman? I found myself asking that. Why not? She was guilty. Why was she the exception to the law? Surely, I wouldn’t have been so lucky. Jesus wouldn’t have saved me if he saw me down on the ground. Mary Magdalene must have been really pretty, or something.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
And it boils down to this last thing: The Cross.
The Cross stands for two things: Love and Condemnation.
You’re scratching your head. “Love, I get. But condemnation?” But just stay with me for 2 more minutes, I promise this comes full circle.
1) LOVE : The Cross is Love. The love that Jesus would die on a cross for you. For me. So that we could get to Heaven and live forever with Him in eternity.
But why? We hear that all the time. Why? How exactly? Why’d He have to die? I get that it’s a grand gesture, but why? And it has to do with this last thing:
2) CONDEMNATION :
John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world might be saved through Him.”
Let’s go back for a second to the definition of condemnation. To condemn is to pronounce to be guilty, to sentence to punishment, to declare incurable.
We are guilty. We all have things that we’re guilty of. Just off the top of my head for myself personally…lying, gossiping, cheating, my eating disorder, vanity, judging, stealing, idolatry. WE ARE ALL DIRTY, BROKEN, UNCLEAN, PEOPLE. We are all that woman on the ground, caught in adultury. We are all guilty.
We are all deserving of condemnation. We all deserve punishment for all of the shitty things we do. For our lies. For our hurtful comments. For our eating disorder. We deserve to be condemned.
JESUS WAS CONDEMNED FOR US.
That was the point of the cross. That was the entire reason why Jesus died: Was so that WE would not have to endure the punishment that we so deserve. Jesus endured it for us. For me. For you. That’s how great His love is for you and me. That’s how much He cares for you and me: that He would take the punishment for our guilt: for my lies, for my deception, for my eating disorder. He endured the punishment so that I don’t have to.
He doesn’t condemn us, because He was condemned for us.
That’s why Jesus picked up the adulterous woman from the dirt and set her free: because He already paid the price for her dirtiness and her adultery. And that’s why he picks you and me up off the ground: because He already paid the price of our eating disorder.
We are all broken and hurting individuals. We all have pain and imperfections. We are all that woman in the dirt. We don’t have to wear a mask to cover that up. We don’t have to pretend that we’ve got it all together. We have nothing to hide, because Jesus already paid the price for everything we’re hiding behind the mask – for everything we’re covering up when we say, “I’m fine.”
You don’t have to be fine. The adulterous woman wasn’t fine. And look what happened to her. She showed her face to Jesus, and He set her free. She reached to touch the feet of Jesus — she took off her mask and exposed her vulnerabilities — and He set her free. He did not condemn her. He did not declare her incurable. Because He already paid that price.
That’s what He wants to do for you. He wants you to reach out to Him, so that He can affirm you and set you free from ED.
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go, and leave your life of sin.”