In my last post What Parents need to See on Instagram I cautioned not to mistakenly assume seeking approval, affirmation or acceptance is not an issue for your child. Even if your family is intact and for the most part doing things “right,” your child attends church or various Bible studies, makes good grades, has lots of friends, involved in extra activities and full of inner and outer beauty, your teen or tween may still be spiraling inwardly down because of their own critical eye of constant comparison to their peers.
Just as you may be feeling grateful for the choices he or she is making and proud of who your teen is becoming, your child may actually be filled with turmoil, buying into Satan’s lies that he or she doesn’t measure up. Consumed with thoughts of not being good enough.
I write this with first-hand knowledge. It is the story playing out in our house now. I am certain we are not alone and this is happening in households everywhere, whether known or not. In our case, Satan’s lies craftily spun as truth have brought with them another sneaky intruder. An intruder who has taken up residence at my house, though hidden to most everyone.
An intruder my daughter has recently outed for who he is and has given me permission to introduce you to ED in hopes we can keep him from wrecking havoc in others’ lives.
ED stands for Eating Disorder.
ED is really not as much about food as you might think. Food is just the manifestation of Satan’s lies whispering:
- You don’t measure up.
- You aren’t as pretty as your friends.
- You don’t look good in that outfit.
- You won’t ever be liked.
- You must be thinner.
- You aren’t as popular.
- You don’t excel in everything like she does.
- You aren’t as talented.
- You won’t be forgiven.
- You are a failure.
- You should be ashamed.
- God is mad at you.
So goes the vicious cycle of binge-purge.
By the grace of God the purging is no longer happening, but the lies still work their way in and it’s a daily battle to fight them off. We are learning lots and receiving wise counsel, but Satan tends to know where each of us are weak and attacks there.
This is why in the fight we can’t just address eating habits and food. If we did, it would just be putting bandaids over the real issues at hand. Therefore, we must go to the root to see what is leading to the behavior.
When we trace the root down – for us dealing with ED and all of us dealing with any other sin or struggle – we find idolatry at the core. I said it in my last post and say it again:
Idolatry is anything and everything we turn to looking for what only God can give.
- When my child sees the number on the scale as determining her worth instead of who God says she is, she is believing Satan’s lie and making it her “idol.”
- When my child passes other girls in the hall and thinks she is so much less in comparison, she is believing Satan’s lie and making it her “idol.”
- When my child feels down because she doesn’t think she measures up to whatever standard and turns to food as comfort, she is believing Satan’s lie and making it her “idol.”
Turning from our idols is part of the life-long process of sanctification: God conforming us to His likeness and transforming our hearts. At times it feels hopeless change will ever happen, especially when there has been forward progress and then steps back.
But what I know to be true and holding fast to in our journey is that recognizing the idols and seeing the sin is a good thing! If we don’t identify them for what they are and realize they are ruling us, we don’t see what we need to turn from. We don’t see how desperately we need a Savior and we don’t see the immeasurable grace He pours out. Grace, not because we are necesarily getting “better,” but because He loves us, period!
If you are reading this and identify in any way, whether it is presenting itself in issues of control or perfection, through ED or some other way, I hope God will use this post as encouragement to know you are not alone, there is no shame in admitting your struggles or getting help. Mostly I hope this leads you to the foot of the cross.
That is where we are standing. It is hard, but I can tell you good is coming out of the trials already. The fact my daughter is able to evaluate what is going on in her heart and the effects it has on her mood and actions is an awareness that, Lord willing, will keep her dependent on Him all the days of her life. Even now in the midst of the battle, she sees His daily mercies and gives thanks. And so do I.