“Lord, the house feels like such a mess!”
Now, I’m a confessed compulsive cleaner. But I justify that little character flaw by saying, “I have two cats and a dog! How could I possibly keep up with all the hair?”
Chalking it up to necessity, you’ll often find me on my hands and knees picking up individual pet hairs. I sweep the house two or three times a day. But more than anything, it’s in my head. It’s something I obsess over, think and worry about. It’s an idol.
My eating disorder was the same way. I was a compulsive exerciser and calorie counter. But I justified it saying, “Exercise is a good thing. And I’m only being careful about what I eat.”
Chalking it up to healthy mindfulness, I checked out of countless conversations while counting calories in my head. I spent hours calculating and then executing the toughest workouts. It developed into full-blown anorexia, but the most agonizing part was the mind game. Never at rest, anxiety ran laps in my head. I obsessed over everything to do with food and weight. It was an idol.
But this morning, at the same second that overwhelming feeling swamped me, Jesus spoke, “Change the standard.” It took me a while to get it, but as I pulled out my journal and Bible for morning devotions, God worked in my heart.
“Abby, you have struggled so hard with perfection when it comes to cleaning the house. You’ve tried lists and routines, professional cleaners, podcasts and new gadgets. Stop devising new ways to pick up every single hair. Learn to see 10 hairs on the floor—and leave them there.”
“In the eating disorder, you tried every new way to meet an unrealistic standard–new workout routines, new gyms, new diets. Then, when you began to recover, in order to prove yourself, you created endless rules about ‘healthy’ behaviors.”
I picked up the pen; poised it above an empty page in my journal. This was beginning to make sense.
When it came to the eating disorder, I learned to stop looking for every new tool to create washboard abs. Now, I’m learning to let go of what I imagine a “perfectly recovered” person looks like. Change the standard.
I still exercise. I practice moderation with food. But the standard is no longer physical perfection, thinness or control. Instead, it is a long healthy life and a body able to enjoy—yes, even taste—the Lord’s goodness.
When it comes to a clean house, I need to let go of my ideal standard of hairless floors, but I will still need to vacuum and scrub the toilets sometimes. Change the standard.
As I finished my quiet time with prayer, I realized this concept also applies to salvation. Since Jesus came, we are no longer held to the impossible standard of the Mosaic law in order to be saved. God’s law, the things that please Him, have not changed, but now the standard is to reflect the one who has already saved me.
Objective Perfection, by Abby Kelly
Standard Weight Gain Goals for Recovering Anorexics, video resource
The Art of Being, book by Constance Rhodes