As I mentioned in yesterday’s post because it is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week I have invited three friends to share their personal stories with ED. Today, I am excited to introduce you to Martha Kate and her testimony to God’s grace.
I lived with him for twelve years. He lied, cheated, nearly killed me and still I stayed. He made me lie to my friends, my family, and literally to everyone I knew. I was in elementary school when he moved in, so young, so innocent, yet so very broken. I lived by his rules and let them control my life. He was my best friend, my enemy, my dictator, all rolled into one.
The monster I am talking about is Ed. Ed stands for my eating disorder and for over a decade he had control over my life. My Ed was what I turned to when I was sad, mad, hurt, or frankly just needed any kind of reassurance. I was too ashamed and certainly too prideful. I didn’t know how to stop doing what I was doing and frankly I didn’t want to stop.
Ed twisted the way I felt about myself and others. You see for those twelve years I lived in secret, battling an illness that not even my closest friends and family knew I faced. It consumed me, my thoughts, my behaviors, my actions. Every minute was spent focusing around Ed. Ed was my best friend, my comforter, my confidant, my supporter. But, Ed was really none of those things because deep down Ed was a liar and he was destroying each day a little bit more. I lost more than I could count to Ed: time, money, friends, grades, family, and health. And losing it all, led to a lack of joy and beauty in my life.
I spent years trying to fight Ed alone, thinking I could beat him without anyone else knowing. When that didn’t work I came back to him. Because unlike every other person and situation, Ed was who I could control or so I thought. Once again though, I was lied to because the more I believed I could control him, the more he controlled me and eventually controlled my whole life. I was terrified of not having him in my life.
For those twelve years I lived with a mask on my face. It was a dangerous mask, a deceiving mask, a mask that was so convincing that I myself was almost unaware that it was a mask and not my true self. However, three years ago I took off the mask and never put it on again. The day I took off the mask and broke up with Ed was one of the very best and very hardest days I’ve ever experienced.
As you can see Ed stole an abundance from me but what I learned as I began to recover from the years spent with him, was that there was so much life still to be held. Because as I ran away from Ed I ran into grace. Grace covered me with what Ed couldn’t. Grace gave me the ability to mess up and still not turn back to my old ways. Grace told me I was loved not because of what I have done but because of what He did for me. Grace gave me something I have never had before…FREEDOM.
This past fall I celebrated three years of recovery. I celebrated the decision to jump off the cliff into the arms of grace and say, “It is okay that I am not okay because Jesus is better than being better.” The most beautiful part is, embracing grace doesn’t mean that I am not still a mess. However, it envelops me in all my messiness and it allows me to be my messy broken self. Because Grace is bigger than my flaws. Grace is bigger than my mistakes. Grace is bigger than my guilt. And Grace is so much bigger than my shame.
I never used to understand when people said that Jesus wrecked their lives but now I get it. He definitely wrecked mine and turned it upside down in the best way. He took everything I thought I knew about control and addiction and swept me into His arms. He told me I was loved when I felt unlovable and that I was beautiful in His image. He gave me scandalous, beautiful, amazing, grace. Today, I have the joy of working with college students and because of that. I have an opportunity to show others, specifically these students, that kind of love and grace that is scandalous and unheard of and it is because of my story of grace and the work of the gospel in my life, that I am able to do just that.
I would love to hear your story of brokenness and redemptive grace. Because when we share about the mess and the beauty of grace in our lives, that is when the gospel becomes real. My friend I pray you know there is hope in whatever situation you face. Buckle up, because if you are willing to jump, you are in for the best ride of your life.
Martha Kate Stainsby is an eating disorder survivor and advocate. She spends most of her time in Waco, Texas where she lives with her husband Brett and works with Baylor University students. When not working with college women, she spends her time sharing her story of grace, through various speaking and writing opportunities in order to build awareness of eating disorders and the hope found in recovery. Find out more about Martha Kate’s journey here: http://leavingperfectionlearninggrace.com