In the first two posts I shared about the impact EDs are having on women across the world and the ins and outs of what an eating disorder is.
Before moving on though, I want to share a more personal testimony.
My friend Susan once complained to me about the one-up-manship which so often occurs when a group of Christians get together to share their testimonies. How we tend to revel in the before--glorifying our unsaved life and trying to do one better than the next guy in the horror of our pre-belief stories. Susan's complaint was this, how are we glorifying God when we talk so much about what he saved us from and so little about what he saved us to?
Good question, Susan.
And I think she has a good point. We do spend a lot of time talking about what we were saved from and not near enough time talking about what we've been saved to. Absolultely God is glorified in the saved from, but I do think the what we've been saved to is often vastly more important than the what we've been saved from.
I can tell you the gory stories of what a binge looks like in precise details. I can describe exactly what I would eat and how I would eat it and the thoughts, or rather, lack of thought going through my brain at the time. I can tell you all the pain and hurt inside me I was trying to stuff down with each bite. But at the end of it, I don't think I will have done you or myself much good.
So if I share a testimony with you now, it will be one of recovery and living in recovery.
I was 23 when I was diagnosed.
I saught counseling and received treatment for three years before I felt strong enough to stand on my own.
Four years later I still have days when not walking in the pathways of my old coping skill and walking in the new pathways forged throughout my treatment feels impossible and some days isn't possible.
I don't believe this makes me weak. I don't believe this shames me. I don't believe this makes me guilty of anything.
But it is something I live with.
I call my eating disorder Bertha. Bertha as in "Big Bertha".
Bertha sleeps most of the time these days. Sleeps contentedly. But sometimes she stirs.In my mind she looks like the old arcade game Big Bertha and she acts like her too--I'm hungry, hungry, hungry...Feed me faster.
When she stirs, I have to talk to her. I quote scripture to her about who God says I am in him. I soothe her and sing her back to sleep. It's never an easy process because for Bertha, the surest way to contentedness is to binge. But I know now that pacifying Bertha quickly is not the surest way to contentedness for me.
These days Bertha and I live in relative peace together, but I never know just what might wake her up. So I have to be ever vigilent to make sure I'm getting the care and rest I need. And when things get too stressful to remember prayer and stillness before everything else and to trust in a holy God who made me fearfully and wonderfully--who loves me in my pain and in my fear and in my joy and in my love.
There's a reason at every AA meeting they start out with, "Hi my name is...and I'm an alcoholic," and follow it with how long sober.
We seem to have accepted in society that alcoholism and drug addiction are an ongoing, life-long thing. But with eating disorders, there's an assumption that you have it once, you get treatment and you get over it.
However, an eating disorder, no matter what form it comes in, is an addiction. And I think deserves the same kind of ongoing vigilance and support of alcoholism or whatever other addiction.
I do believe in God's power to heal. I do believe God can remove the pathways an eating disorder forges in our brains.
However, I do not believe he does it very often.
And here's why...
because I don't believe it makes for a very good testimony of saving to.
I don't believe erasing the thing completely helps a person in recovery effectively share their story with others who are suffering. I do not think it offers the hope and the courage to fight and to overcome. And I think if we only have the testimony of someone who's been saved from, most of us will sit around waiting to be saved from and never realize the wonder and beauty of being saved to.
I've been saved to share my story.
I've been saved to encourage others walking a similar story.
I've been saved to be a voice for the voiceless ones who cannot see the way out of their addiction.
I've been saved to be a living, walking testimony of someone who has overcome and continues to overcome.
And I honestly think being saved to is so much better than being saved from.
Do I look back at my ten-year-old self just starting to form those pathways and tell her to keep eating because she's going to eventually get saved to something?
No. Absolutely not.
I look back and tell her to stop every time. I tell her to talk to her parents about what she's feeling inside and to allow herself the cry she forbids herself to cry. I tell her to hang on tight and pray and trust God is there, loving her in the midst of her loneliness and her pain.
But I also know I was saved to strength and empowerment and faithfulness and a strong sense of who I am in God, and I can tell her about that too. And I can tell other girls and women about the saving to.
Yes, sometimes when Bertha is rumbling, I pray to be saved from her. I pray for God to pick her up and sweep her out of my mind and my soul completely. But God's never done that--doesn't mean he can't or won't--only that he hasn't. And I think he hasn't because I think he knows I need Bertha.
I need her so I can remember what I have been saved to.