My last special guest blogger for National Eating Disorder Awareness week is Victoria, a new friend and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Eating Disorder Association. As with the other posts: Giving Up the Fight: The War on Eating Disorders, Breaking Up with ED and I Had No Idea: The Secret Truths of Eating Disorders I hope her story encourages you. Whether your struggle is with food or something else, I pray you find true freedom in Christ.
I will never forget the day I overheard a couple of my “friends” say I was ugly and fat. I had been teased about my appearance before, but this hit a whole new level. As I slowly removed myself from the situation I threw their wounding comments on top of the pile of damaging things I already believed about myself. Over the years I had compiled a significant amount of negative thoughts and these last comments caused the mountain of negativity I had accumulated to collapse around me.
Like any young girl I wanted to be pretty and accepted by my peers. At that moment the burden of trying to live up to what others perceived to be beautiful was too much. The only way I saw fit to make a change, to be beautiful, was to lose weight.
From that moment on I worked harder than ever before to be “healthy.” I quickly lost weight and was praised for it. To my dismay the weight loss didn’t satisfy the longing in my heart. The control I felt over food led to an intensified focus to control other aspects of my life and obtain a “perfect appearance.”
I cowered under the power of the unrealistic expectations I had made for myself and withdrew from social situations as well as important relationships in my life. Before I knew what was happening my identity had became solely what I ate, how I exercised and what I looked like in the mirror. I had fallen so far that I didn’t know what to do, except to keep pretending I was ok and to hide my damaging behaviors.
I realized that I couldn’t bear to continue to live in bondage. Broken and confused as to what to do I cried out to The Lord for help. This certainly couldn’t be the way God wanted me to live for the rest of my life.
For so long my shame and guilt had kept me from reaching out for help and believing I could conquer this alone. Instead the behaviors of constantly fighting for control, comparing myself to others, and worrying about my appearance became so engrained in my everyday life and ruled over my every thought. I had pushed God and everyone else out of this part of my life for so long that all I knew to do was have faith and trust that God would lead my way.
There were hard days, and easier days, but with the help of my family, close friends, counselor and a whole lot of prayer I fought back against this oppression and pressed into God. Psalm 145:18-19, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them” became one of the main truths that kept me going through out the ups and downs of my recovery process.
Letting go and allowing The Lord to heal this part of my life was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. I can now confidently proclaim that the things of this world (food, exercise and my appearance) cannot fill the desires of my heart. My heart longs for something more than what this world can offer. Something only a Christ can fill.
Through this process God has shown me a glimpse of the depths of His love, grace and healing powers. I now have the freedom to celebrate my worth and identity in Christ regardless of outward appearances.
Seeing the Lord completely transform my life has ignited a passion for cultivating positive body image, spreading eating disorder awareness, and educating others on the importance of early detection. I tell my story because I want others to know they are not alone in this battle. There is hope for healing no matter how hopeless you may feel. All you have to do is cry out for help. The Lord is listening and desires for His children to live in joyful freedom.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
Victoria is an energetic and fun-loving senior obtaining a Bachelor’s of Science in Dance and Arts Management and a minor in Business Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma City University. As the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Eating Disorders Association she continues to pursue her mission of spreading Eating Disorder awareness and the true meaning of health. In her free time Victoria enjoys being actively engaged at Bridgeway church, traveling, dancing, hiking and anything that involves being outside!
If you are struggling with an Eating Disorder, please reach out for help. There is no shame, but lots of freedom to be found. If you need resources please send me a comment and I will do my best to direct you.