recovery in Christ when life is broken

Powerless to Control My Eating Disorder

 
POWERLESS

I am a firm believer that the Lord turns our ‘mess into a message,’ magnifying His power to bring Him glory. I witnessed this firsthand back in 2014 when a woman named Lindsey boldly shared her story [at church]. Placing her identity and worth in a previous relationship left her broken and lost once it ended. Her deep-rooted joy was evident as she spoke, and I longed for the freedom she expressed. Christ brought her out of a dark season of depression and hopelessness, and her life was forever changed. Her story reached my heart because it was similar to mine, except I was still in bondage to my relationship. I had placed my identity in everything other than Jesus Christ.

 

FEAR AND CONTROL

My struggle with fear and control began at a young age when my parents divorced. I realized this drastic change of lifestyle was completely out of my control. In an attempt to find my worth, happiness, and satisfaction, I sought the approval of men, resulting in ‘on again, off again’ relationships. My life was driven by fear and self-doubt. I was constantly perfecting my appearance and performance to win the approval of others.

At the cost of my relationship with Jesus, I would go to any length to gain approval of others, sacrificing what I knew was true. I eventually turned to body image and managing food intake as a means of taking control of some aspect of my life. What started out as making minor changes in diet and exercise quickly spiraled into self-obsession and starvation. I was dissatisfied, even as the weight rapidly dropped off. The condition of my health continued to decline, and I quickly realized that I wasn’t controlling anything. Anorexia was controlling me.

I viewed my eating disorder as a way of life, failing to recognize it as evidence that I needed God’s presence. There didn’t seem to be enough room in my heart for both my eating disorder and my Heavenly Father. Lost and ridden by guilt and shame, I was powerless over my addictions. I could only overcome this battle by His strength. My true need was not gaining control but relinquishing it. I didn’t need therapy, recovery steps from a doctor, or a three-month long rehab program. I needed a Savior to save me for eternity. That is exactly what Jesus did for me. (Psalm 116:6)

 

CHRIST HAS WON THE BATTLE

When I visited The Porch (Watermark's young adult ministry) in Fort Worth, I was in a miserable relationship that I knew needed to end, but I was fearful of what life would be like without him. The words I heard Lindsey speak that night let me know that I was not alone. It took me six months, but I finally ended the relationship and reached out to Lindsey for help. I needed truth and that is exactly what she pointed me to. When I think of all God has done in my life since we had that first cup of coffee, I am in awe of the Lord’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and the truth behind Him using others to reach and transform hearts.

I didn’t know anything about biblical community before coming to Watermark. Today Lindsey and I are in the same community group with five girls who continually point each other to truth. The Lord never intended for us to go through life alone. Every time we meet I am reminded that I am not alone in my weaknesses and that confession and accountability aren’t meant to flaunt our sin but to magnify God’s grace. Community is the sweetest gift, and life truly is better together.

I’ve also taken part in re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry – first as a participant and now as a leader. The first year I spent in re:gen was such a healing time for me as I shared my story and processed my life with others. God used it to reflect His goodness and power and put new desires in my heart, allowing me to see myself more like He sees me. Because of Christ, my past no longer defines me. My identity isn’t found in my relationships, body image, or what others think of me. It is found in Christ alone.

I used to fear what I would lose if I repented and left my old ways behind. God changed my life, and I went from being far from Him and enjoying sin to hating it. The Lord wanted so much more for my life than what I was choosing. Life is found in pursuing righteousness. Christ has taught my heart to delight in Him, which is the only place that freedom and joy are found. My life has been transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ.

“The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.” (Psalm 116:6)

 

- Natalie G.

I Hate My Body

Have you ever looked in the mirror and hate what you see? I have.

Our culture, if you look like you got it together, you must have it together. Everywhere you turn, there’s an advertisement for a “good body”. I wanted to look like the guy on the cover of the men’s fitness magazine, but that is not what I saw in the mirror.

My obsession with my appearance started when I was in the military. I transformed from an “average Joe” of 180 pounds to a 215-220-pound man. Not only did I see the change in my body, but others noticed too. My new body drew attention, attention from women, men, friends, coworkers, family. So every day I focused on trying to look better. I was careful about the clothes I chose and the supplements I took to help me look leaner, better, bigger, and stronger. I was careful with food intake. If I ate a cupcake, would tell myself, “I have to work out tomorrow or I’m going to gain weight”. I constantly examined my stomach, my waist, my chest, etc. My appearance defined my purpose. My body image became my idol.

When I looked at myself, I was never satisfied with my body, myself, or my life. This unhappiness drove me to constantly try to look better so that I could somehow find happiness and confidence in my appearance. Regardless of how I looked, happiness never came. For ten years, I was trapped in this dangerous, harmful cycle, spending thousands of hours in the gym and thousands of dollars on supplements to try to make me feel different. The lie that my looks would make me loved, successful, joyful, happy, and confident, only led to pain, destruction, and disappointment. I looked like I had it together on the outside, but I was broken inside. 

At the time, I didn’t understand I was made in the image of someone else - my Creator. I didn’t know that He made me for a far greater purpose than looking good. God made me to reflect His image, not to exalt my own. My body image could never make me significant.

In 2012, I learned that I was significant enough to God that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. When I accepted Christ’s sacrifice for my sin, God began to change me from the inside out. He showed me that I had been using my body for my own benefit, selfish gain, and personal significance. My body had been my god. My body was my biggest priority because I wanted people to worship and desire me. I didn’t understand my intrinsic value to God, which is my true worth. To God, I was worth the life of His Son. He paid the highest price possible to ransom me from sin.

Culture tells us that if we aren’t beautiful according to its definition of beauty, then we are not valuable. God showed me I am valuable because I am His child, created uniquely by Him for a purpose. Isaiah 43:7, God says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” God showed me, and continues to remind me, that my body and my life is not for me, but for Him.

Today my identity and satisfaction rest in knowing that I am God’s child, bought with a price for a purpose. I am significant in the eyes of the all-powerful God of the universe. I am precious to the One whose opinion matters most. My physical attributes do not define who I am, or who I am going to be. God determines my value and purpose. My life and body belong to Him.

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

By God’s grace alone, I have turned away from my idol of body-image to find satisfaction in my relationship with Christ. He alone is the One who holds my soul and fills my heart. He alone is the One who is able to hold your soul and fill your heart, too.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

-James R.

 

For more information, check out Body Image and Eating Disorders in the Struggles section of our website.

recovery in Christ when life is broken.