Quietness and rest were foreign to me during the painful years of my eating disorder. In fact, they were down right scary. If my body was resting, then obviously, I wasn’t working hard enough to burn every available calorie. If my mind was quiet, then obviously, I wasn’t worrying enough about my last meal or my next one. I wasn’t meticulously counting the calories burned during my last workout or plotting my escape from a lunch date with friends. I truly believed that my frantic mind and anxious diligence made me stronger than others, both physically and mentally.
Eventually, both my body and mind proved me wrong. I lost my menstrual cycle as my body slowed down and eliminated all processes that were not vital to survive. My mind felt like sludge sometimes and I couldn’t stay awake anytime I sat down. I would watch my friends’ lips move in conversation and wonder, minutes later, what on earth they had been talking about.
We don’t spend a lot of time in the book of Isaiah. It’s kind of cerebral, feels ancient, a little dusty and irrelevant. But when I discovered Isaiah 30:15a, I checked to see if God had scrawled my name in the margin.
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.’”
Other versions say, “In repentance and rest you shall be saved;”. That word, repentance, in the Greek means, “to change one’s mind”.
That’s exactly what I had to do to begin walking in recovery and health. I had to change my mind, consider foolish and worthless all the things I once believed made me strong, independent and superior. I was forced to change my patterns of thinking about food, my self-worth and my physical appearance.
Changing my mind meant making different choices: To believe the counselors, dietitians, the voices of those who loved me and most importantly, Jesus. I gave up my frantic efforts for personal strength and perfection and slowly began to rest in the truth that I am loved.
Every single day is not always perfectly peaceful. But, I have learned to long for the peace and quietness that is mine in Jesus and can never be manufactured by my own efforts. I no longer fear stillness.
I have learned, in the moments that I feel anxious or worried, to examine my thoughts. Do I need to change my mind? What am I believing that is untrue about myself, my relationships, my God?
A few verses later, Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”
He is reliable, trustworthy and strong when I am weak. I am never stronger than when I am resting.
Rational Mind vs. Emotional Mind, video resource
Flirting with ED, Valerie Cunningham
10 Tips for Raising Balanced Eaters, Constance Rhodes