The Truth About Eating Disorders

By: Victoria Patterson @words.with.vj

Imagine that it’s 2000 years ago. You’re at the last supper and you are one of the disciples, unaware of what is about to come. Jesus has just offered the bread and wine, telling you to eat it as He explains what they resemble. Do you panic inwardly because you hadn’t planned on eating that extra bit? Do you check your fitness app to see if it fits into your “plan” for the day? Do you tell yourself you’ll eat it, but be sure to make up for it that evening or the next day? Or do you take it, eat it, and sit in His presence peacefully? I’m sure none of the disciples would have dreamed of turning away that food. In fact, I’m sure that while they were in His presence, they were not thinking about how thin they were or if they thought Jesus thought they looked the “hottest and fittest”. But what would you do if you were in that situation? 

As someone who is still in recovery for an eating disorder, I’m here to say that I would probably do anything but sit there peacefully. Even if I chose to eat the bread and drink the wine our Savior offered, I would be in mental agony because of the eating disorder. And how heartbreaking this is to admit that this disease truly does control so much of my life. Eating disorders are not a glamorous thing as society sometimes seems to say. Movies make fun of eating disorders, friends make loose comments about them, and diet culture screams that eating disorder habits are normal. Eating disorders are a silent disease that debilitate the daily lives of those they inflict. I say silent disease because a lot of times, people are able to keep the struggle hidden. Years can go by and loved ones have no idea their dear friend is inflicted with this mental “disease”.  It’s this disease that keeps a person from eating a piece of simple food offered by a friend, even if that friend happened to be Jesus. 

Something that is on my heart today is to talk about the truth of eating disorders. I want to emphasize how eating disorders do not offer the peace, happiness, and security they tell us that they will bring. Oftentimes, eating disorders develop out of a need for something, whether that is approval, self-love, an escape from life, etc. The appealing thing about eating disorders is our brain tells us that through them, everything will be fixed. We believe the lie that life will be better and we will feel more fulfilled and secure. We start thinking, “Once I’m this size, then he will love me”, or “If I can just lose weight, I’ll be a better athlete and praised more.” These types of thoughts are false, yet they sit in the background of our minds every day. The truth about eating disorders is that they cannot satisfy us or make us better. They steal joy away from us, keep us from going out with friends, leave us in shame every day, and prevent us from enjoying the bodies that God has given us. They do anything but satisfy us. No amount of food we eat, minutes we exercise, or body shape we have can ever satisfy us. The only One who can satisfy us is Jesus, the bread of life. I love how this is how He is described in John 6. The very thing people with eating disorders are scared of, food, is something used to describe Jesus as the only One who can fill us up and satisfy us fully. 

This life is fleeting, and this body won’t last forever. Sometimes, I think it’s easy for us to think that eating disorders are good. Even though they are an enemy, they become a friend, a comfort during hard times. They become “normal” even when they are the exact opposite of normal. In fact, much of society even says that eating disorder habits are normal and should be celebrated. It’s easy for us to cling to the eating disorder instead of God. It’s time for us to fix our focus on Christ and lean into Him during our day to day lives of struggling. Doing this doesn’t mean instant recovery. It doesn’t make things easy, and many days, it’s the opposite of what you want to do. But one thing I’ve been working on is learning to lean into God in the struggle. He wants you, and He loves you. The more we do this, the more we can see that He satisfies us and brings us peace. We can start to see that when we are faced with the intrusive thoughts and temptations to engage in disordered behaviors, He is the true way out of the struggle. He may not heal us fully on this side of eternity, but He is with us and gives us the strength to get through each day and fight the enemy. My hope and prayer is that through this post, you are able to see the reality of what an eating disorder is and how Jesus is the only way to peace, joy, and satisfaction. As you continue along in the journey, my desire is that we can all get to a point where if we were offered the last supper by Jesus, we could accept it and sit in His presence peacefully.

Thank you Victoria for such a beautiful post. Connect with her on Instagram @words.with.vj

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