Today is a day I celebrate. This day seven years ago I was in the hospital for bursting both the blood vessels in my eyes from throwing up because I was struggling with bulimia. A year later at this same time I was in the Emergency Room because my body was freaking out from trying to digest food because I had not eaten in three weeks. Eating disorders come from the enemy having you fully convinced your body is not enough; your body is something to be put in shame about because it does not fit the “standards of beauty.” That is why I am here to tell you that I think you are enough, the Lord thinks you are enough, and society has a twisted view on what they think is enough.
BOTH men and women struggle with eating disorders, and I don’t want to ever stop speaking out against gendered bondages. Men look at themselves the same way women do, and although women usually struggle with it more because society sexualizes and compares our bodies more, men also go through the pressures of being thinner or thicker.
I used to look at my body and cry and hate myself. I self-harmed and wrote on my body, “don’t eat” or “you’re fat” just to keep myself from eating. I stopped having periods because lack of nutrients. My mouth tasted of acid, my teeth began to turn yellow, and my throat always hurt. I wasn’t happy in life and I was always so tired. I continuously compared my body to other girls who were in my class and couldn’t even look at my body in the mirror.
Being in the hospital twice for an eating disorder just brought on more shame because I was hurting the people around me more than I was even hurting myself. But I am here to tell you that I can celebrate overcoming it, and so can you. Here are a few things I did to help control my mind and how I perceived my body:
Stop comparing your worst to someone’s best
“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” [Proverbs 14:30]
When you get on social media and you see other people showing off their bodies it’s hard not to begin comparing yours. Here’s the thing though: they might have taken that picture about ten times before getting the right angle or they could have possibly edited it! On days you’re bloating or ate more than you would have liked to, these are the worst days to begin comparing yourself to them. All of our bodies are made differently and uniquely. Some people are made to be naturally small, naturally thick, naturally strong- that does not mean that the way you were naturally created is wrong. Christ looks at your body, the body He designed with His very hands, and is proud of it. He doesn’t look at your shame-covered body and is disgusted; He looks at you in awe of how beautiful you are.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” [1 Timothy 4:8]
Encourage yourself. Build yourself up. Your body will not change overnight and neither will your mind-thought. This is a battle that you are fighting, so fight it well! Be proud of the little goals you reach and the days you eat healthy or more. Look at your body and only spit out truth over it. Rebuke the enemy when he tries to destroy you and remind yourself that your body is a temple and most pleasing to the Lord. Begin to uplift those around you and be proud of them for meeting their goals. Quit looking down on yourself when others are further than you in this journey of a healthy body. You are you- different and unique and beautiful because you are different. Don’t put others down because you don’t think they understand you or the battle you are facing. We are all in this together, so fight for uplifting yourself and others around you. When you find yourself being negative, correct yourself with a positive comment. Tangibly do things that prove you want to be better.
Understand healthy doesn’t mean thin or thick
“For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” [1 Corinthians 6:20]
Just because you are thin, doesn’t mean you are healthy, and just because you are thick doesn’t mean you are unhealthy. Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean they don’t struggle with wanting to be thicker, and just because someone is thick doesn’t mean they want to be thinner. We need to seek to understand people first before thinking we know how they feel about their bodies. Being healthy is not always as easy as people try to make it out to be.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” [1 Corinthians 10:31]
Maybe your goal is to eat more or less. Maybe it is to stop looking down on yourself or saying hateful things about your body. All of our goals are different, but they are all set to make ourselves better and to improve the way we look at our bodies and the way we look at other people’s bodies. Root yourself in the way Jesus looks at you and push yourself to love your body the way He does. Set realistic goals to reach, and strive to always set more beyond them.
Love yourself as Christ loves you
“If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” [1 Corinthians 3:17]
Now, five years later, I am not going to say that I don’t struggle with body image anymore, because sometimes I still do a little. But I will say that I don’t let the enemy convince me that my stomach, thighs, arms, or face are ugly. I can look in the mirror now and cry tears of joy because I am so in love with my little belly. I have overcome eating disorders and an unhealthy mental mindset. This little cookie pouch tummy is full of foods that I love. These thick legs are capable of running for miles and climbing mountains. My double chins are full of joy and laughter and excitement for life. I don’t look at my “flaws” and count them as flaws anymore- I look at myself the way Christ looks at me- with love and awe. I strive daily to love myself more because when you love yourself, it’s really easy for others to love you as well, and in that, Christ can be most manifested in us because love has gone beyond us and our bodies.
I know it’s easy to think that you could never love your body, but I promise you it is possible. I used to think the same thing when I would deprive myself of food and joy. Christ wants us to strive for healthy living because the Kingdom thrives off of it! I wouldn’t have been able to backpack for miles in Asia to reach unreached people groups with the gospel if I wasn’t healthy enough to do so. There are people who need your best self so that they might be encouraged to be their best, and to then plant seeds in the hearts of other doubters as well. Never stop thinking that people aren’t fighting the same battles as you and that you are alone. Let me walk this alongside you and encourage you to be the best you can be for Christ and yourself. All throughout scripture Christ encourages us to take care of our bodies; there is holiness in a healthy lifestyle.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” [2 Corinthians 7:1]