“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27
Eating disorders are not about food … or, in my case, the lack of food. They are about control – plain and simple. I felt absolutely out of control due to my intense depression as a child, and those feeling of hopelessness followed me into my adulthood. And then I discovered that I could control what I put or did not put in my mouth. For a fleeting moment, I felt like I was in charge. Like I was finally okay. But it was only for a moment.
From age 11 and into my early twenties, I felt like a misfit. The Lord had to have made a mistake with me, I constantly thought. By the time I started high school, I was reading Seventeen magazine like it was my Bible, full of the answers I would need to be perfect. The perfect clothes. The perfect grades. The perfect body. The perfect boyfriend. It contained everything I needed. Or so I thought. I was knee-deep into the starvation mode at this point. My only necessities were bread and water – for the prisoner I thought I was. Bottom line, I nearly died from anorexia nervosa. I lost 20% of my body weight and looked like someone from a concentration camp. My ribs and spine were sticking out of my skin. My cheeks were sunken in. I looked as horrible as I felt. But anorexia nervosa was but a symptom – a manifestation, if you will – of the larger problem – my feeling of total self-hatred. I needed the love of Jesus, but I was too sick to recognize it.
Unfortunately, I am not the only girl on the planet who battled anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders or who is still in the battle. Countless number of young girls, teenagers and women see themselves as fat, ugly and unworthy, and they are torturing their bodies, hoping to feel a sense of normalcy.
Do you have a close friend or family member experiencing these types of illnesses? Here are some ways you can walk with your friend or loved one:
- Never Give Up On Her (or Him) Even though I pretended not to listen to my parents and friends, I really did listen. They all told me that they loved me, that they were scared for me, and that they were not going to give up until I was well. Believe me, your loved one hears how much you love her or him, and it helps a hundredfold.
- Pray, Pray and Pray Some More My mom never stopped for praying for me to get better. At times, I know she felt helpless, but she and my entire family and friends relied fully on Jesus and His Power to heal me. Even though I made them feel hopeless for many years, they did not stop getting on their knees on my behalf.
- Talk to a Christian Counselor I was in therapy for years with an amazing Christian counselor who specialized in eating disorders. Seek out a professional for advice on how best to walk with your friend or family member. The Lord has blessed many professionals with the gift of compassion, and they are there to give sound counsel to you.
- Don’t Worry About Saying The Wrong Thing I can tell you from experience that it does not matter if you say the wrong thing or if you do not saying anything at all. Your presence and support are key. I was very blessed to have a ton of family and friends who supported me for years – even though I shoved them out of my way for quite a while. Deep down, I needed their love, and they gave it to me … unconditionally. With or without words.
- Seek a Support Group I can promise you that there are support groups for families and friends of people suffering from eating disorders. Check out your local hospitals or your local churches for referrals. Christian therapists can also give you suggestions for faith-based groups. You need to know that you are not alone.
Please feel free to contact me on my blog, Journey of a Southern Gal. if I can be of help in any way. Blessings on you, my friend!
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