I’ve shared my story with a lot of people.
I’ve told my church, my friends, audiences of strangers, and the internet how I had an eating disorder for three years and was set free by Jesus. I’ve told people how I had an encounter one night with God that changed me from the inside out. An encounter that empowered me to give up counting calories, weighing myself, and hating what I saw in the mirror. An encounter that ended my depression and anxiety, filled me with joy, gave me confidence, and was the beginning of a new life for me.
And every part of the story that I’ve shared with people is true. I am different person than I was a year ago. I’ve been healed and made new. I’ve been redeemed and restored.
But I’ve left out something very important.
I’ve left out the fact that my story isn’t over.
I’ve insisted on putting a period where there should be a comma.
My testimony didn’t end when I left the altar that night knowing that my chains had been broken. Yeah, those chains of bondage fell off, but there were scabs and scars and even open wounds that they left behind, and I haven’t allowed those wounds to heal. I’ve ignored the fact that healing is a process, not a destination.
And that is something that I haven’t wanted to admit even to myself, much less to other people.
I thought that my story would be so much better if I could say that I had been fully healed in an instant and was now 100% recovered. I was trying to take God’s place as the author of my story, and that caused me to miss out on the healing and growth that could have been happening over the past year as I stepped out of anorexia. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come so far and my life is completely and wonderfully different than it was when I was anorexic. No, I don’t starve myself, exercise compulsively, binge, purge, or think about food all the time. I eat when I’m hungry, I never skip a meal, I don’t hate my body, and I’m not afraid to treat myself (ice-cream for the win!).
However, my physical recovery has been a roller-coaster over the past year. After I encountered Jesus that night and experienced freedom like I’d never felt before, eating wasn’t a struggle at all and I quickly reached a healthy weight for my height and body type. But a couple of months later, I lost about 5 pounds…which doesn’t seem like much, but in recovery, even 2 pounds can make or break both your mental and physical well-being. Luckily, my mom realized that I had lost weight and I quickly got back on my feet. A small relapse like that is perfectly normal, and to be expected! But it happened last summer…and in October…and over Thanksgiving…and over Christmas break…and in the spring…and it happened again this month. Whenever someone would express their concern I would ignore it because (truthfully) I feel great mentally! I’m happy and I’m enjoying life, so who cares if I’m a few pounds underweight? Besides, the Lord delivered me from my eating disorder so I don’t have to worry about recovery anymore! Right?
The truth is that even though I don’t feel controlled by anorexia anymore and I’m not actively engaging in old habits, the fact that my weight keeps dipping down is a symptom of bigger issues. And to be honest, I’m not exactly sure what those issues are. All I know is that I was so anxious to leave the past behind me that I didn’t allow the Lord to bring me through a process of healing. Sometimes God does heal people completely, in just an instant. He is perfectly capable of not only freeing you, but wiping away every remnant and every memory of what once held you back. But oftentimes He takes us through a process of healing, and in that process we learn who He is and who He made us to be. Sometimes we have to walk through the desert before we can enter the Promise Land, and it isn’t always fun.
What I’m learning is that the freedom I was given that night was indeed the end of bondage, but it was only the beginning of healing.
It’s not easy to accept the fact that I’ve been running around claiming that everything is okay while I’m covered in scabs that keep opening back up and cuts that keep getting infected. It hurts a bit to admit that I’m not as “recovered” as I would like to be. But I want to be vulnerable, because vulnerability demolishes pride.
So where do I go from here? I don’t really know. I know I need to start by gaining at least 5 pounds to be in a weight range that is healthy for me, where my body will function as it’s supposed to. And I know that as I go, I need to be ready and willing to recognize and confront the things in my heart and mind that have kept me from maintaining my health.
I’m erasing the period, and replacing it with a comma. No matter how difficult and how humbling it may be, I’m asking the Lord to search my heart and take me through a journey of complete healing and restoration. I’m ready for Him to take the pen out of my hand and write my story. I’m just along for the ride.