People say, “I surrendered to God, and He just took it away.” Pastors preach: “If you pray hard enough, you will be healed.” I find myself asking, “Is there something I am doing wrong? Why is this eating disorder thing still an issue for me?”
Granted, the eating disorder no longer controls my life. It no longer dictates my every thought, every action, every meal. I am no longer in treatment or going to numerous outpatient doctor visits, but still …
There are times when stress gets the best of me and I want to revert to old, negative coping patterns. I have to be vigilant about getting in regular meals. I choose not to participate in spiritual disciplines like complete fasting because of their potential to trigger unhealthy and nonspiritual behaviors.
Food is still an issue, but it is not really the issue–freedom is.
I have read lately, in the Old Testament, the stories of creation, the fall, Adam, Eve, Noah, the plagues. Now I am to the stories of the people of Israel in the desert and the part where God promises Moses that He will deliver His people, but that He, “’will not drive [Israel’s] enemies out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous’” (Ex 23:30, NIV). “Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land,” God says.
As I read this, I started thinking about my eating disorder and comparing it to Israel’s time in the desert. First, God sent me to inpatient treatment. There, He showed me that I really had a problem. I learned basic coping skills. Then, I went home to intensive outpatient services. There, he helped me regain my physical health. Next, I went to college, where I almost made the subconscious decision to turn back, but the loving interventions of family, friends, and residential life staff saved me. God showed me I need people.
Then I graduated and starting working and living life on my own. God revealed to me the need to care for myself. He showed me how much I need Him, and how incapable I am of doing this thing called life on my own. He exposed to me the joys and pleasures of freedom.
Am I healed? Yes.
Do I still struggle? Yes.
God is a redeeming God, and He still has more work to do in my life.
So why doesn’t God just take this eating disorder away? God sovereignly knows how much I can handle. He knows that I can’t process all the steps to recovery at once. He knows that I need to learn my weakness before I can begin to rely on His strength. He knows that the wild animals of perfectionism and obsessiveness might lead me to other addictions if He sets me free too quickly.
I am free, “free indeed,” (John 8:36) but not so that I might return to the desert of the eating disorder. God continually delivers me so that I may use my freedom to obediently walk the path away from the eating disorder and Lord willing, maybe one day help others to do the same.
Obsessed with “Less”, by Sarah Cowles
Breaking Free, book by Beth Moore