At the root was selfishness in the form of a self-centeredness: I held the right to react anyway I wanted or have anything I wanted. What I took out on others as a child introverted when I reached teenage years. “I’m to blame” wasn’t a sudden shift. But I was. Always. For everything. I believed the lie that I would suffer rejection, raised voices, harsh words, if I argued at all. I believed the lie that I was a burden on people and especially family, one they put up with for a holy obligation; I believed I’d been given an invisible value by default by an invisible God that spoke it over the human race.
God found me early though. He found me through childhood moves and growing up and going to new churches and meeting friends, and I knew my God was different than merely invisible and theoretical. I spent every moment broken by sin at my core, and I did not want people to see the true extent of it. I wanted to be fixed but didn’t want people around for “the fixing.” By grace, I cycled out of rebellion and learned to be teachable even if I didn’t invite people to challenge me. I cycled out of the victim mentality because I began to see that God truly was good to me. But somewhere in the midst of teenage insecurity, I picked up a donut and never put it down.
Maybe it’s never been a clinical eating disorder. But it is idolatry which is out of God’s order. Food became my sword because it was easy to hide. It was available. Always available. I oscillated between eating myself sick to eating next to nothing. I wasn’t obsessed with hearing “you look like you’ve lost weight,” otherwise gaining it back again wouldn’t have been such a big deal to me. It wasn’t until Easter 2011 in CO that I realized how out of control I was. Something daily won my affections more than God. Something else mastered me.
I started and never finished Bible studies on this: I know to thank God for food (1 cor. 10:30), to eat and drink and do all things for his glory (1 cor 10:31). Great. I can do that. But I can’t. I can’t stop eating what’s bad for me. Before I know it’s in my hand, it’s in my mouth. And puking ruins your teeth so I can’t let this escalade. It escalated in other ways as my weight would fluctuate noticeably daily and then plateau higher than I wanted. I feared it would catch up with my body more as I got older–that I wouldn’t be able to hide it much longer– more than I feared God.
I don’t mean to be legalistic and say never pick up sugary-creamy-fluffy bliss and only buy organic foods because your body’s a temple for a Holy God. Two of the donuts pictured were promptly consumed by my roommate and I over breakfast and coffee. What I’m saying is that moments that food is a sword (however engrained or fleeting those are), put down the sword and don’t trade it for a pocketknife. When you view food as something so evil you should never touch it, crush the image you have in your head. It’s false.
“It’s not about the weight or the food; it’s about your heart. Your heart towards both needs to change. Jillisa, start here.”
Last fall I stopped eating after 8pm, changing my eating schedule so that I could do so. That’s all I did. One thing at night and do you want to know what happened within a week? I lost some indulgence for chocolate. I had clarity sooner in the morning as I woke (food comas are a real thing!). My weight stopped fluctuating drastically, and slowly dropped a few pounds. If it went up, the guilt wasn’t heavy at the scale. I became more thankful for the food I had throughout the day. The midnight eating pattern reversed.
Let me show you what I clung to, as life constantly changed around me and my sister moved, and my work had me in a different position daily, and I was gaining friends and meeting new people:
“For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying ‘peace and safety!’ then the destruction will come up on them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with him.” 1 Thes. 5:2-10 NASB
I would often open to that place in my Bible over lunch as a conscience and hope that I wouldn’t feed yesterday’s hunger by compounding calories. “You are not of darkness that day would overtake you like a thief. You are sons of light and sons of day.” I don’t feel like the day is here yet, but I’m learning to wake up, preparing the way for Christ and welcoming the foreshadowing of his coming in my new habits.
Why do I write this now? Well, another change in life took place this week, a first for me. I just broke up with my boyfriend after 3 months together. The worst part is someone else’s heart is involved. I can’t speak into it much, I can’t fix it or solve it. I’m grateful our time together–it was incredible. But now it feels like I’m losing my best friend and when is that not painful to process? Yet I’m processing this whirlwind relationship in a way that reflects my divorce from my erratic eating.
I’m sad but still I’m walking free from wanting to make myself sick because of what is not yet solved. I’m not operating in my flesh which threatens to bury me in guilt or lies (Gal. 5). God has not destined me for wrath or destruction. All that wrath and blame was taken out on Christ at the cross. So I’ll lay my weapons down at his nail-pierced feet and obtain his salvation.