“Embrace this new year with your best self, working with your body to be the best it can be. It’s time to
put yourself first; this is your year!”
“ Top ten list of the best new ways to drop those holiday pounds just
in time for bikini season!”
Ladies, can we talk for a second about the lengths we go to with working out, constricting calories and throwing up to get those “perfect bodies” we see in others that we so desperately wan?.Can we talk about how we so desperately want to be the most beautiful woman in the world and even after all these diets and workout techniques we still do not feel beautiful enough, and also feel like a failure?!
Can we talk about how we indulge in lattes, ice cream and Chick-fil-a, only to starve ourselves later? Can we talk about the struggle of stress and binge eating and sugar addictions?
I believe we can, and I think it’s time to get really honest about this topic.
The number of women in college I have come to know these last few years that have struggled with self-image, worth and eating disorders; as I have shocked me. I saw my friends and their mothers, my family and older adults alike struggle with this concept of a perfect body and have seen its costly actions that birth from this image. This image of a body type many do not have or believe they don’t have is costing us so much.It has cost me so much. During 2018 I have felt success and failure in good ways and bad. I have felt like I failed another year to be the best I can physically be. I have felt accomplished as I lost weight and horrible as I gained a pound or two after eating healthy. I had felt like a failure for I stress eating when life was hard.
This year I wrestled with many things, but the largest was my worth and acceptance. I ended up ultimately looking towards being skinnier and fitter as the solution to this problem. As my desire to look skinnier came up and my past recovery from stress binge eating and purging for some control in a chaotic season, I realized I was mentally exhausted and emotionally burnt out. I believed almost everyone else around me was skinnier than I was and that I needed to change to be “good enough” for others. I lost sight of the most essential things in life, and as a result of putting myself at the center of my thoughts and plans, I became bitter, critical and unsatisfied.
I realized my desire to be thinner was not only becoming a problem but was destructive. As I tried my best to get rid of overeating habits I developed as a control mechanism, I grew extremely anxious when around food I believed was not healthy because of diet programs, I saw a few friends do. I became confused by how they ate dessert foods and lost weight but refused to eat other natural foods. As a result, I found myself binging on unhealthy sugar-free options that made me feel terrible but I could eat the sweets without feeling bad and could fit in. My anxiety only continued to build the fall semester of my junior year as my roommates would so kindly make dinners for the house that were loaded with healthy carbs that I viewed as my enemy. I found myself slipping into an old habit of throwing up foods I perceived as “bad” when others gave them to me. I was terrified of weight gain. Every time I ate “bad foods” or threw up I felt terrible. I felt like a failure to myself and others. I thought I had grown past this issue but found myself stuck in this cycle and mental battle deeper than before.
Once I started spiraling, I desired to be genuinely healthy again and to get into a healthy relationship with food. I was tired of being worried and afraid around food. I wanted to be mentally free from these thoughts and part of my motivation was for my appearance. Now, this change is better than where I was before, but I realize this desire in and of itself was fueled by the wrong reasons. I was working for people’s approval. Both from my friends and guys; as well as, my family and mentors. I was trying to prove something; I was trying to convince everyone of my worth. I was trying to show people I was at my best physically, intellectually and spiritually; worthy of people’s time and attention after a year of relational challenges.
With every binge, bulimia and starvation episode I felt terrible. I knew I was turning away from God’s guiding hand to stop this dangerous path and it left me irritable and so ashamed which killed me spiritually and mentally. I was at war with myself with the light of the right way of living I knew and the addictions and temptations of the dark. On the one hand, I wanted results, I wanted to be loved, and I wanted to be “more.” If I am being sincere, I didn’t trust God would do this for me. I bought the lies that I was not good enough for love and I turned away from his ways and voice. But the Lord met me where I was at each day. Not out of anger like I imagined, but he was in this struggle to show me his of comfort, concern, and power.
You see, I was terrified. I thought that the Lord was so mad at me. Throughout this year, I really felt and saw the Lord bring to my attention that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and the way I was living was not honoring to him or this temple He has given me. Instead of his anger, I saw that he met me in my most vulnerable moments with kindness, gentles and power. As I desired to stop these habits I developed, it became clear I couldn’t do it on my own but with him in prayer and seeking the word and acknowledging his presences for self-control and discipline right there with me. Over time, my perspective began to change. I saw that he came for me in my darkest moments of self-hate and struggle, just like he always has and for that, I am so grateful. I was reminded that he came to this earth to die not only for all people but also for me and this struggle I was in. God sent his son Jesus to rescue me and you not just from eternal death but death on this earth, he came so I could be free from this and live with him now. Jesus calls you and I “beloved.” He sealed our worth, acceptance and identity in this love and the words of his Word. He came for you and took all your struggles and sufferings on him.
He came so you wouldn’t have to live as a slave but as FREE.
He came to save us from the slavery of gluttony and eating disorders that we rarely talk about. The Lord has graciously reminded me there is victory and always has been for this struggle of mine. Jesus died and defeated this struggle and corruption I put my body through. The Lord didn’t give us a spirit of fear but of power love and self-discipline. A spirit that brings him glory and honor and frees us along the way. It has taken me a while to get to this point of re-seeing my identity, but this struggle was just another example of how I had misplaced my worth in what I do and how I look. As the Lord consistently was revealing this truth to me, I began fighting alongside him, aiming to come out of this struggle because I knew an eating disorder is not what God wanted for me or designed me for. I am still working towards letting God rewire my brain to what the Lord says is essential to eat and fuel my body to sustain it for this life he has given me. Instead of starving it to please people who will come and go or indulging in toxic things that will destroy it and his mission I will follow him. Above all, the most important lesson I learned is that I am not the point. God is always the point. There is so much more that matters than seeking a perfect body or the pinnacle of being healthy and fit. Not only is there so much more but at the skinniest, most fit times of my life, I have still wondered if I was enough. The only thing that sustains and brings true joy, peace and assurance we all seek in being skinny, is actually just living with him. His presence is the antidote to what we desire even though we don’t realize that God is what we are looking for.
Yes, I need to make healthy changes in my life, but the most important and healthy decision is to put our relationship with him first because what we ultimately need is always Him. As a result, we become more aware of our patterns of unhealthy practices and pursue living the way he designed us to that brings us more joy and life than any other way of living. We are so much more than bodies and there is so much more to life than ourselves. Yet God cares for us on a one-on-one level to love us fully and help heal us. So maybe just maybe our new year body resolutions are misinterpreted by us, perhaps our mind, body and souls are crying for something more, but have been taught and bombarded with this idea of perfection. We believe perfection is the key, so we put all of our money and heart there, only to find unhappiness in the end. Maybe this failed pursuit is revealing a hole that can only be filled by an intimate relationship between God and us where love, acceptance and freedom lies solely in his goodness and power.
Written By: Caitlyn Koerner