Transformed Not Conformed – My Disordered Eating Journey
Psalm 139: 13-16 You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord! You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place, carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something. You saw who you created me to be before I became me!
This truth continues to free me more and more every time I encounter these words.
Why? Because these words remind me of my lack of control. They jump right off the page and confront my desire to control all things, and I surrender once again.
I surrender my desire to look a certain way, to have my clothes fit just like theirs fit. I surrender my desire to control the natural desires of my body. To once again allow my healing thoughts to be reminded that this body was created with the wisdom to know and desire health. This body knows how it likes to be cared for. It knows the amount and type of food to be eaten, rest to be received, help to be requested, and exercise to be practiced.
It wasn’t long ago that this truth had not yet penetrated my heart. These words were words I read, but I had not yet allowed the Lord to have my attention despite all the ways He was pursuing me.
Yes, I knew Him and had accepted Jesus as my savior. However, I had not yet been given the eyes to see my own wounds which had led me down the path of anorexia.
At the time, I had been running competitively for over 11 years. I had three children; an eight-year-old girl and twin two-year-old boys. I’d been married for nine years.
When these words broke into freedom for me, I found myself lying in a hospital bed with monitors beeping all around me because my organs were shutting down. This was my second hospital stay in five years with the same symptoms, organ failure and low blood counts due to lack of nutrition and over exertion.
As I look back, I can see the development of the disordered way I viewed my body, and food as a result, in high school. I remember constantly comparing myself to my thin friends, always feeling like I wasn’t enough. I was the one to order the fruit bowl while my super thin friends were ordering the burger and extra fries.
I was always athletic, however, in college I took matters into my own hands and decided to greatly increase my physical exertion and greatly decrease my food intake. In a short time, I began to enjoy the comments I would receive regarding my body. This new attention and knowledge that it was me who was making this happen fed my desire to continue.
And I did continue for years following. I continued controlling myself, shaming myself, comparing my body with the bodies of my peers. I was never enough in my own eyes. Never.
Finally, I learned I was pregnant with our first child. If I am honest, my first thought was not joy and excitement. It was fear of the weight I would gain as a result of being pregnant.
I continued to control, measure, weigh and resent this growing shape. I only gained 14 pounds with my first baby. Only because of the grace of the Lord, Shiloh was a healthy little one. Once she was born, along with adjusting to being a first-time mom, I began the pursuit of losing the weight I had gained during my pregnancy. Once it started coming off, it continued and again I was loving the comments I was receiving which fueled the continuation of my pursuit to lose more.
I finally felt enough.
That is, until I found myself laying in a hospital bed in a sterile room because my immune system was too weak to fight off any bacteria or virus that could enter my room. My desire for perfection and my attempt to control all things – the perfect baby, perfect home, perfect body, perfect marriage – had led me to a place of absolute exhaustion and deficiency. I needed help, but was not yet aware of the Lord’s pursuit of my heart.
This over-analyzing, shame, comparison, perfection seeking, withholding, over-exerting way of life continued. With my pregnancy of twins, the same fears existed. I gained 22 pounds during this pregnancy. Again, despite my actions, the boys were born healthy. The same cycle of quickly losing the baby weight occurred. I picked back up my training for marathons and triathlons while not allowing for proper nutrition. I found myself exhausted but pushing through because in my mind, asking for help was admitting I was not enough. And my pursuit of being enough was everything.
That is, until I found myself laying in a hospital bed, with monitors beeping all around me, alerting medical staff of any drop in reading. It was in this time that I heard the Lord breakthrough with Psalm 139:13-16. These words were fresh, and offered me an exhale.
He created me. He put me together in the way He knows best. He designed my body as well as my innermost being. He took time to craft me.
He, God, Creator of the universe in which I find delight, shaped and molded me according to His design of what He knows best. I had never read these words with these eyes. Never had His pursuit of my heart been so close. Never had there been even a glimpse of freedom and release for me in this way.
My recovery has been one of setbacks and reminders. I cannot say I am no longer tempted to pick up that control, or once again open those comparing eyes. But that moment in the hospital when I was so very out of control, when the Lord showed me the depths of His pursuit of my heart and freedom, will always be my ebenezer; my reminder of what was before His breakthrough. I often do go right back. I go back in my thoughts to the grip of slavery I felt to the scale, to the mirror, to the miles, or to my thoughts about food in general, and am reminded that He sees me as beautiful.
I do not see clearly, but He does. He continues to refresh my vision. He continues to disturb my attempts to control. He continues to remind me of His design. He continues to pursue my heart with freedom as my victory in Him alone. It is His comments alone, the ones that sound like beauty and freedom, that matter most. I surrender Lord, even now. I surrender. To God be the glory.
If you have felt led pursue healing by reading Amy’s story, we invite you to our upcoming Holy Yoga and Disordered Eating self study. Click here to learn more.
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