Shame is a lie someone told you about yourself.
– Anais Nin
I’ve struggled with food for as long as I can remember. It’s been a way to control what I couldn’t, to quiet what was deafening & to soothe what was wrenching me in two. Small moments, meant in jest or malice or construction, to a damaged, anxious girl, were gathered together in my tiny hands, heaped upon my heart, & held against myself.
So much potential, & yet…
Every every bite a box full of shame. Stuff it down, or run from it. Turn to drugs to forget what is needed to nourish the body I was born into… that I hate.
Measure the girth of my arms with my fingertips. How far up do they touch?
on. & on. & on.
Until I was sick from the drugs with a heart rate, resting, of 135.
I was committed, counseled & studied. Put on different medication that made me balloon from a baggy zero to a six in a week, & continued growing at a staggering rate until doctors finally changed the medication.
I went from “almost there” to so far from everything I’d ever worked for, or identified myself with. Lost 40 pounds, but still was 40 above my pre-drug weight.
I sit in fear of withholding, fear of losing control again, so I swing in the other direction & eat out of lack of control. Quiet the voices of my former self. The me that died in treatment. Sometimes, I miss her. I wish that I could bring her back, but drugs & family life don’t mix.
Two and half years after treatment, I fell in love with Jesus. & yet still, suffocated with shame. In our brokenness, the way we see our fathers is how we view the Lord. Every day I exist in this body & I’m not thin, not tone, I fear am letting Him down, bringing Him shame.
Is this true? Does my body really shame the Lord who loves me? Who died for me?
No. But do I believe that? Do you?
I say I believe in freedom, a new life in Christ. Ah, yes, but these wounds are too deep. Too long sustained. Too chronic. This has fused itself to my bones, & I fear I will never be free from an eating disorder this side of the grave. This is me. To loathe the frame of flesh & bone that holds my soul on the earth.
But my babies. They see me. Their sweet faces, born from this body. They know how I feel about the vessel that God gifted me with, the vessel that grew them & protected their tiny, fragile bodies until they were strong enough to breathe in this broken world on their own.
One of my sons stood back from a mirror, saw his beautiful reflection & cried.
Echoing the shame I’ve long carried.
There are these moments in guiding young lives where we see how big we’ve blown it. How vulnerable they are & how only God can heal wounds we’ve inflicted on those we hold most dear. Where our sin, spreads like a virus, generational.
I stopped talking about it. Kept it hidden & he healed. Prayers heaped upon prayers & he’s OK, Praise the Lord! 2 years later, my boy has no issue with his body weight.
Finally, I entered another type of treatment. EMDR (memory repression therapy) & eating disorder treatment. If I believed Christ could save me, why did I still insist on clinging to untruths about myself? That what I see in the mirror isn’t what God sees? It was a huge risk. I was terrified.
What if I opened all these wounds, talked about all these hurts, & nothing changes? Or things get worse?
For my babies, I went. I walked through the doors & sat on the turquoise couch & spoke my life, in hope that God would meet me there. For me. For my husband. For my boys, so they don’t hate their reflection.
I went with a desire that my babies grow into a reflection of Christ, not their mother’s shame, & that they fall so deeply in love with my Savior that they are missed if absent. Not because of potential, or works, or beauty, but because of how well they love those around them… & that they never focus so sharply on the outer, that they lose sight of the heart.
With faith & prayer (& a stomach full of butterflies), I went.
My Savior met me there. He held me & He revealed Himself & He soothed me in a way food or starvation has never, could never, can never.
I still struggle with reflexes, with thought-paths, so well-worn that they’re deep trenches, easy to fall into again & again, but He meets me with His truth when I ask Him.
He’s been so good to show me how much He loves me. Especially through my love for my children. I love them when they’re messy, when they’re loud, when they’re sinful. He loves me better than I could ever love my children, no matter my sin, no matter my size.
But how to love the vessel He gave me? The frame I’ve fought as long as I can remember? In therapy, I learned to replace a lie with the truth, & to repeat it & pray it, until I believe it. Sometimes, through tears, I cry out scripture back to Him in prayer.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.“
Wonderfully made? With my disproportionate legs that still inhibit me from finding pants that fit? With these eyes that brought the cutest boy on the bus to stare into them, only to ask if they were crossed? Help my soul to know it well! He chose these traits for me. These legs that are strong, & these eyes that my boys wear beautifully.
& When I feel ashamed & alone, this sweet verse from last Christmas,
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.“
He is a Warrior, my God. He will save me from these lies & from my sin. He is doing so now. Does it say when I am thin, that then He will take great delight in me? No. He delights in His children. He will not rebuke me, but will sing over me. The God of the Universe will sing over me! Can you imagine?!
So, I’m learning. He’s growing me closer to Him through faith. Little by little, piece by piece, prayer by prayer, my sweet Jesus is peeling away layers of scar-tissue-lies, & is showing me my value.
Shame is a chain that shackles you to lies. Who is the father of lies? Is that where you want to sit? Who you want to bunk with?
I’m learning it does me no good to sit in humiliation because of this body that is not & will never be perfect. Longing for that sick girl to reappear so that I might feel comfortable, that I might inwardly boast about being better, thinner, is broken. I cannot cling to what lies behind me. There is freedom in Christ, I’m learning. Freedom to post makeup-less pictures online, but also bigger, truer freedoms.
Being a wife. A mother. A friend. Being able to laugh, with my broken, capped teeth, at the days to come, without worrying whether God will meet me there, because He will, my friends. Knowing that the absolute best reflection I could ever aspire to, is my savior & to love people well, as He did. To focus less on me, & more on others.
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”