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I had an eating disorder for six years. Anorexia was the name of my game. I never threw up –  I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and it never got so bad that I had to be put in a rehab center, but it plagued me for years. You never would have known. I mean, you may have known if you were familiar with eating disorders, and if you spent any time with me during mealtimes. But I loved Jesus. I was a leader in the church and on my school campus. I prayed, I read God’s Word and I trusted Him. And yet when it came to my body, somehow, I had separated it from my soul…or so I thought. In reality, that separation was destructive to myself and to others. It wreaked havoc on my heart, my mind and my soul, and it broke others’ hearts around me.

It’s so easy to compare our bodies to other women’s bodies, especially those of celebrities and others on social media.

Why can’t I look like them?

Why can’t I lose the weight like she did? How does she do it?

It’s nothing new. Same struggle. Same lies being thrown at us. And we have to fight our thoughts. For me, that’s daily. I daily have to turn it over to the Lord. I daily have to tell myself the truth of who I am in Him, and remind myself that God’s truth prevails. Yeah, I do want to get rid of some of these pregnancy rolls, but the truth is that God loves me, that He gave me a body to live in – not to starve or diet to death. And now more than ever, I realize that how I view food and my body affects others.

The other day I was walking my dog and pushing my five-month-old in a stroller, and I caught myself starting to open that dark door again. I just want to lose some weight around my middle. And my thighs. And my butt. I’ll walk now. Then tomorrow I’ll do my workout videos. Maybe I should cut out sweets? Or just add some vegetables at dinner? Maybe no more eating out…

No!

“No, I won’t do this. I’m not going there. Lord, I need You.”

I stopped and cried out to God. No, I wasn’t going to go down that path. I wasn’t going to start planning my food for the rest of the day, or put myself through a strict plan, or give into the lies about areas of my body I don’t like and wish were different. That’s exactly what Satan wanted me to do, but I knew it was toxic. That wouldn’t lead to life, but rather to death.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about how he pleaded with God to remove a thorn in his flesh several times, but God didn’t do it. We don’t know what Paul’s thorn was. Paul calls it a “messenger of Satan to harass me.” Why in the world would God not remove it? Paul was crying out, pleading with God to remove something that was not of Him.

Eating, along with my body image, is one of my thorns in the flesh. That and anxiety. Super fun, right? This is my thing. Not to say that I don’t sin and struggle in other ways, because I totally do. But eating and my body image, and all that goes along with it, often seems to be a struggle for me. I’m not identified by my past eating disorder, but it is a big part of my story that still affects me. I may always struggle in this area, but God has brought healing and freedom in this area of my life, and I continue to grow in it daily.

I can agree with Paul that God says, 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).

My awareness of how easily I could fall into this trap again makes me rely on His grace, and it makes me empathetic toward other women who struggle with the same thing. I won’t tell you to just get over it, because I know it’s not something you “just get over.” I get it. I’m right there with you. I’m clinging to God’s grace and power, and that’s all I have. But it’s sufficient.

He’s right there with me. He is the Victor. My hope is in Him.

Identity plays a huge part in our relationships. How you view yourself will flow into every relationship you have, especially a romantic one. Often guys wonder, Am I good enough? and girls wonder, Am I worthy? If those questions aren’t rooted in Jesus and what He says about you, then they can bring some heavy baggage into a relationship. They can cause you to feel like you constantly have to prove yourself, or devastate you when you mess up or fail. They can cause you to be manipulative or clingy, or perhaps even lead to an eating disorder. What questions do you ask yourself late into the night, and what answers are you feeding your soul? Lies? Or truth?

Alyssa is the author of Love That Lasts: How We Discovered God’s Better Way for Love, Dating, Marriage, and Sex with her husband Jeff. She is a mother to two little toddlers, Kinsley and Kannon. And she also enjoys writing and encouraging young women.

Alyssa Bethke

Author Alyssa Bethke

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Olivia Wilbanks says:

    I admire your heart, and your struggles because they have you stronger as a person, and made you fully trust in God. I feel like so many people go through things such as this for the outcome to be us growing closer to God, and fully putting our trust in Him. I have been in similar situations, and I constantly catch myself comparing myself to others and wishing I was thinner, prettier, funnier, but I’ve had to learn to accept that God made me just the way He wanted to, and for that I am thankful. God bless you!! I will be praying for you on your journey of recovery 🙂

  • Allison Heller says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! You have no idea how much I needed to hear those words! I was just diagnosed with Anorexia two months ago and it can get very frustrating at times… I know I have God by my side and besides that, I have wonderful friends and family, but it is so hard for me to love myself and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide. However, your strong and powerful words makes me want to get out of that hiding place and start renewing my love for myself and for God. Thank you!

  • Kyra Greunke says:

    I love how relatable this post is. I’ve never had an eating disorder, but I think everyone can relate to the questions we ask ourselves and have to stop ourselves from opening that door to the darkest places. We’ve all been somewhere that hurts us emotionally and going back to those places can always sting us, however knowing we have a God who loves us and cares about us more than anything helps so much. We know that through Him we are enough and always will be enough.

  • First off, great post!

    Second, Love that Lasts is an amazing book and I would highly recommend pre-ordering it! <3

    Thanks for the honesty Alyssa!

  • Pauline Pierce says:

    Really good blog today! I just love reading everyone! They are so encouraging and helpful.

  • Mary Grace McGhee says:

    This is so unbelievable relatable. Since the eighth grade, I have struggled with bulimia, anorexia, and body image. I am now in my junior year of high school. It not only affected my mental and physical states but my relationships with friends, family, boys, and the Lord. I was slowly drawing away from His love and depending on my own will to get through my disorder. God has since delivered me from my eating disorder, but I am still working through the insecurities that rise up in my heart from time to time. I am learning to accept the fact that God sees me as beautiful and that His opinion is the only one that matters.

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