Pounds. Ounces. Measuring cups. Tablespoons. Teaspoons. Since I was a child, I’ve been measuring my life in pieces. I’ve struggled with weight since childhood. And I’m not talking about feeling bloated after a burrito. I’m talking about being obese and weighing more than my father at the age of 12. Life felt so out of control and in pieces that the only thing I knew was to pick up the pieces of life and run really hard.
By the time college came around, I became an expert at running with my hands full of the pieces of my life. It was a time of reinventing myself and shedding my shame and my weight, which interestingly enough, existed in the presence of each other. The obese little girl was a distant memory and the shadow of the girl who strode onto campus conveniently stuffing the broken pieces of her life in a designer book bag.
College was a chance to reinvent myself. No one knew I was an illiterate child who shared a bedroom with my sisters and snuck food into closets while no one was looking. No one knew I was poor or made fun of because of where I lived or the color of my skin. No one knew I witnessed the prejudice against my father and his lingering accent. It was a chance to be who I dreamed of being: perfect.
Never to be thought of as the stupid kid ever again, academic excellence was the bar. From color-coding my notes, study groups, re-writing my notes, and note cards, I was obsessed with academia. If the letter A was an item, it was the hidden treasure I sought out.
But my manic behavior didn’t stop there. I became obsessed with dieting and an allusive number on the scale. I became fixated on controlling every aspect of my life. It was my goal to never be made fun of again and to find clothing that was not in the full-figured women’s section of department stores. Never again would I need to wear a plus-size forest green jumpsuit with elastic waistband and faux gold buttons (aka my Easter outfit circa 1993).
As a grown adult, I can’t even begin to recall how many diets I’ve been on. Seriously, it’s embarrassing. The Orange Peel Diet (boil 30 orange rinds for five hours in two gallons of water and drink the tea for the next 48 hours); The Soup Diet (boil every green vegetable in a cauldron of water and eat it for eight days straight); The Meat Diet (the diabolic travesty of my life); The Vegan Diet (I gained weight); The Liquid Diet (I ran to the restroom every 30 seconds); The Pills-from-Mexico Diet (I not only lost weight, I lost sleep, hair, and control over my sweat glands). Sadly, the list goes on.
Unless you’ve struggled with an addictive or obsessive behavior yourself, it’s difficult to understand the pain. Controlling a diet or eating habits may seem easy to some. You know, just simply put down the food. But someone telling me to stop eating or stop obsessively working out or stop color-coding my notes was like telling the sun not to rise. No matter how hard I tried, it was impossible.
So I held on to control like a cobra grasping its prey. I lost 45 pounds, I had a stellar GPA, I had the best clothes, my work was excellent, my professors loved me, and my scholarships kept coming in. I, I, I. My, my, my. Me, me, me. I had become the captain of the ship, the driver to my destiny, the god of control.
Others probably thought I had my life together, but I knew it was a façade. Deep inside I feared one misstep would cause a trapdoor to open and a massive boulder to fall on my head. One mistake would remove the favor in my life and reveal the frightened girl who simultaneously controlled everything and nothing, and the pieces of my private life would be spilled on the floor for everyone to see.
Here’s the truth: you will have moments where you feel like your life is in pieces.
You know all the pieces once made something beautifully whole, but right now? Right now it feels like puzzle pieces you’re forcing to fit together, but refuse to match, leaving you with what feels like empty holes that feel impossible to fill.
And it’s that empty feeling that drives us to fill what we can with what we know: food.
If you’ve ever wrestled with food or food addiction, you might have found yourself saying:
I feel like I’m missing something.
I want to feel complete.
I feel broken and cracked.
I want to feel whole.
I’m so empty.
If I could stop _____, then I would feel okay.
For women unaware they are addicts to food, suffer from disordered eating, and exercise control of their emotions by binge dieting, I’m here to tell you a sobering truth: we are hungry for things food cannot fill. What feels like hunger pains are actually soul cravings.
And sadly, an empty soul cannot be filled with ice cream.
When food/porn/television/alcohol/sex don’t take the emptiness away (like we believe it will), the belief is more will make it better…
One more serving of food
One more hour of work
One more drink
One more episode
The completion of your life isn’t going to be filled binging, purging, or withholding. The broken pieces of our life are only made whole and complete through the love of Jesus. Paul the Apostle wrote to the Colossians and reminded them that in Him you have been made complete (Colossians 2:10). Our desires claim to satisfy us, but only God can make us full. Why? Because food isn’t the real problem, emptiness is.
Jesus has come to life and life to the FULLEST (John 10:10). I wish there was a magic pill I could give you or some new simple answer to those of us who struggle with disordered eating. But this is what I’m learning and want to share with you.
We need to find fullness in God before we feel the fullness of food.
We will mess up and make mistakes. But know this:
No matter what your past holds, it can’t hold you.
You are not who you are when you are weak.
You are not who you are when you fail.
You are not who you are when you sin.
You are a child of the Most High God.
As you begin to put the pieces of your life and issues with food back into place, let me encourage you that being made whole is not only possible, it’s the essence of who Jesus is and what He came to do.
Jesus came to make us whole. Jesus can make us complete. When God looks at you He does not see you in the weakness of your failures, but in the fullness of His purpose He picks you up and reminds you to keep going.
This post was taken from our LO sister workshop: “The Powerful Workshop”! To learn more from Bianca, Shelley Giglio, Alex Seeley, and more (all include video teaching from each contributor!), click HERE and join our community today!
As both a pastor and author who has been in ministry for more than 20 years, Bianca inspires people to live with passion. Her leadership at The Father’s House Orange County has allowed her church to reach people all over the world. As the founder and president of the nonprofit, In The Name of Love, she is committed to serving the incarcerated and equipping them to discover freedom despite their surroundings.
Bianca describes herself as a passionate, Jesus-loving, Bible-teaching, book-writing MexiRican. Experience her energy in her best-selling book, Play with Fire and her most recent book, How to Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who You Want to Be Tomorrow, which explores how to win at work and navigate through life’s many decisions.