It’s not about food

for all of my measuring my wrists and counting my ribs and weighing the skin that hung off my nine-year-old bones it wasn’t about food.

in the beginning, i wanted to look thinner, yes, and so i stopped eating, but the reason i wanted to look thinner wasn’t because i thought i was fat. it was because i thought i wasn’t beautiful, and for some reason, i knew society thought thin was beauty. and i wanted to be beautiful because i thought people–namely, my parents–might then celebrate me. i might be noticed. i might be swept up into the hug i’d always craved and told over and over how lovely i looked and how precious i was and how fearfully and wonderfully made.

i stopped eating because i wanted to feel loved.

it was all about love. and hasn’t it always been?

every night after supper, my husband reads out of the Jesus storybook bible, and my son is too young to understand but all i can pray is that the words “Jesus” and “love” unite in his mind. that the concept of God will always conjure up walking in the garden, an intimate relationship with the one whom we look like. the one who adores us. the one who longs to sweep us off our feet and smother our faces with kisses and tell us how absolutely cherished we are. how he would die for us, all over again, because we’re worth it.

here, a passage that describes how far we’ve run from such love, and why we’re starving ourselves trying to find our way back:

“as  soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve. “does God really love you?” the serpent whispered. “if he does, why won’t he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit? poor you, perhaps God doesn’t want you to be happy.”

the snake’s words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison. does God love me? eve wondered. suddenly she didn’t know anymore.

… and a terrible lie came into the world. it would never leave. it would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children: “God doesn’t love me.”

… and terrible pain came into God’s heart. his children hadn’t just broken the one rule; they had broken God’s heart. they had broken their wonderful relationship with him. and now he knew everything else would break.

…but God loved his children too much to let the story end there… you see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children — with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. and though they would forget him and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always, and long for him — lost children yearning for their home.

it’s not about food. we might starve, we might over-eat, but it’s not about food. it’s about love. we want to feel loved. we want to find our way home.

***

Body Wars video: FREE download here, at the FINDINGbalance website.

About video: Many of us think life would be easier without our bodies, but the simple truth is that God created us in them, and he must have had a reason. Can you imagine having a relationship with another person, or even with God, without your body? Yet so often we are at war with our bodies. This session takes a closer look at this issue.

(***Once you click on the photo, you will be taken to the FINDINGbalance lesson store (after reading over/agreeing to the rules)… then scroll down, until you get to the Body Wars video. Click on “Body Wars” and a number of formats will pop up for you to choose from: mov, wmv, mp3… click on one, and download it, and you can watch the video. You can then download the discussion questions too…)

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28 thoughts on “It’s not about food

  1. So much truth Emily. It’s all about love and wanting to be loved. I think the same could be said about people who overeat. Blessings!

  2. all i can pray is that the words “Jesus” and “love” unite in his mind

    Oh my dear god yes. This is EXACTLY what I yearn for every night when I put Yosi to bed, fearing I’ve inadequately explained/modelled/revealed God to her in the previous day. I want her to know God loves her. Beyond that, I’ll take it as it comes.

  3. I am learning that our identity isn’t how we dress, or what we do, or our job, but who we are. Who God made us to be. And I know that we are created in His image, but what does that MEAN to me, how does that play out in life? I couldn’t have been created in his image physically because God is spirit. And my body is sin. I can’t be created in his image personality/person wise, because I am sinful. Or is my logic skewed? I don’t know. But I NEED to know what it means to be created in His image, and how that applies to me on Earth. I’ve heard it an accepted it without ever knowing how that changes things or my perception, yet too embarrassed to ask. Pride aside, and a contrite spirit, I ask.

    I feel bad even saying anything like that. because I know that my husband hasn’t asked me to change myself, and he wants to protect me from me, and what he is asking me is what is right in God’s eyes. So why am I angry with him deep down when I see his logic and see his goodness in what he is acting? I think it’s mostly 30 years of everyone else imposing their standards on me and his seems similar but with good motive, but its an opportunity to be big enough, strong enough, loud enough to make my statement? I don’t know. Maybe it’s all those 30 years of it catching up with me now that I am in a safe place to sit back and reflect, and this is how I am choosing to cope? So many answers that leave so many more questions….

    • jaime! yes! this, this learning what it means to be made in GOD’S IMAGE, is exactly what we need to understand, so we can bring an END to this cycle of children who don’t know who they are, and so try to find themselves in an ED. this is exactly what we’re going to explore here on this blog. i love your heart. please pray that God will reveal, as i write each week. thank you friend.

      • So no quick fix? Lol things worth doing are usually not easy. And thank you for the compliment.

      • i wish there was a quick fix. but it’s about the renewing of our minds, right? about obtaining eye surgery: getting a whole new perspective. this unfortunately takes time. but we’ll do it together, okay? xo

      • Sounds good to me. 🙂 just glad I don’t feel as alone and there is a glimmer of hope.

  4. Sorry, that last paragraph somehow ended up in there with the first one, when it was some journaling I had done on the computer. Oh well.

  5. Emily thank you. Thank you for helping me realize what has been buried for such a very long time. It was always about love. It was never about food.
    I can’t help but wonder what a hug instead of a punishment would have accomplished so many years ago.

  6. Oh, it is SO not about the food… much as it’s not a matter of just “eating again” to heal. For me, I felt my life seem to spiral out of control and I felt so very helpless. I was desperate to feel in control of something, anything. Food was just an easy target. Thank you so much for the light you are shining here…

  7. Laurie Miller April 11 at 10:27pm
    When I began reading it I thought about my daughter and her feelings and if maybe I didn’t love her enough or the way she needed to be love. Then the post became more about me…my longing to believe God really does love me uncontionally. I was saved under the “fire and brimstone” and always thought I just wasn’t good enough or worth that love..maybe somehow I projected that on to my daughter. My daughter and I are similar in alot of ways..we handle our “lack of love feeling” with food..me too much …her not enough. thanks for the insight.

  8. These are parts of my journaling pages that Emily encouraged me to share.

    I just feel like such a mess right now, and a blubbering one at that, that I don’t even know where to begin. So, I’ll ramble and you can try to make sense of this later, and I am sorry in advance for anything that is misspelled or whatever. I’m just going to spill it now and read it later.

    I was reading this book, life inside the thin cage, and it talked about abusive relationships. The sexual ones I already knew I went through (as my mother was a drug dealer to high to see what was happening to me), but also the subtle non sexual ones. That triggered something inside of me. Despair.

    I feel like I’m not my own person. I’m Scotts wife and the childrens mother. And i’ve spent my life conforming to who everyone else wanted me to be. For my mother i was never tough enough, rebellious enough, thin enough; i was never MORE like her and less like me. To my father I was invisible, a part of his past regrets he wished would just go away. My cocaine addicted turned alcoholic step dad, I was always in his way, costing him money, takiing away time, and he always thought that I was ungrateful. To my brother I was an annoyance. I wasn’t even a person just something that got in the way of who he wanted to be, where he wanted to go. And I always felt responsible for holding him back because he had to get the brundt of the abuse in order to protect me. All the boys that surrounded me took advantage of me with their promises of undying love and eternal admiration, and I let them with the guidance of my dear ole mum. I was taught that my worth laid in my appearance, sexuality. If they did not desire me then I was worth nothing. I went from place to place, and person to person never fully fitting in anywhere, no one to claim me and always in the way. Even my wedding day was spent partially sad because I didn’t have a daddy to claim me-and yet I had three fathers- to walk me down the aisle.

    I left home at 16 with the first ticket available: a man off the internet, 10 years my senior with three kids. My mother signed over guardianship. And spent a good bit of my youth trying to hurry up and grow up to be his trophy wife and mother to his kids. Never handling anything quite right, always being passed over for porn, and an embarrassment if I showed up anywhere in the public just as myself. Every hair needed to be inplace, makeup on, kids dressed nicely.

    Then he leaves me for someone shinier.

    Now I am married to my current husband, Scott. he is wonderful. How God has restored my family and given me a strong spiritual leader who “stands up when I can’t.” He has helped me become a better person and a better mom. But in the process its felt like I was changing me. Even though logically I know that he didn’t ask me to change who I WAS but the things that I did, especially around the kids that would influence them. Which was right. But when you have 30 years worth of SHIT catching up with you at once, it feel sthe same, emotionally speaking. And the one area that I felt I could always express myself with was with my clothes. And granted it was wrong of me to wear these things that are immodest and draw attention (affirming my “worth” in my eyes, and tempting men in ways that are sinful), it still was the one thing I had figured out about me. I would talk about his sister wearing immodest clothes and he would say it was fine because she was flat chested. Well, if I could be a lot more like her, maybe I could have back a piece of me back? The piece I had figured out, sort of. Which is terrible because our identity isn’t how we dress, or what we do, or our job, but who we are. Who God made us to be. And I know that we are created in His image, but what does that MEAN to me? I couldn’t have been created in his image physically because God is spirit. And my body is sin. I can’t be created in his image personality/person wise, because I am sinful. Or is my logic skewed? I don’t know. But I NEED to know what it means to be created in His image, and how that applies to me on Earth.

    I feel bad even saying anything like that. because I know that my husband hasn’t asked me to change myself, and he wants to protect me from me, and what he is asking me is what is right in God’s eyes. So why am I angry with him deep down when I see his logic and see his goodness in what he is acting? I think it’s mostly 30 years of everyone else imposing their standards on me and his seems similar but with good motive, but its an opportunity to be big enough, strong enough, loud enough to make my statement? I don’t know. Maybe it’s all those 30 years of it catching up with me now that I am in a safe place to sit back and reflect, and this is how I am choosing to cope? So many answers that leave so many more questions….

    (From today’s journaling experience)

    DISTRUST! And fear. That runs my life.

    I recall three precise times that I know that I had disordered eating. When I was a teenager, and my home was violent and my whole world felt shaken where suicide seemed like the most reasonable solution.

    When my littlest one was little. And I first realized that I had been sexually abused for a good bit of my life. And was working through those issues and composing a letter to my mom to try to”rebuke her, have her repent” since she says she is now a Christian, mad at my dad for not being there for me, to save me. Laying it all at their feet, and tired of carrying it around. My husbands views on nursing made me feel like I was neglecting my other kids, and I was angry with him for his decision. Although now I understand it, and respect it. Coming to terms with that took time and patience and understanding. none of which I felt capable of in the throws of having a new baby with older kids as well, and tired. And, frankly, malnourished.

    So it was the worst time in my marriage, the worst time for my extended family.

    Fast forward to today: My family is still shunning me for the letter to my mom. I have birthdays, and Christmas, and Easter, and Mothers day and fathers day to remind me of that. My once docile and obedient kids have now decided they have a mind of their own. lol My ex husband is being a tool and who knows what he is going to do at any moment. But I have to continually live with the man that took advantage of a teenager and took guardianship of her, because my childrens feelings are always more important than mine. And frankly, he’s grown up alot since then. praise God. I have to send Scott off to work to be around other women, which with an ex cheating, and betrayal always in the back of my mind, isn’t something that is easy to do. So, there are times when my relationships feel unstable or I’m insecure. I should but I can’t trust God to bring healing to my extended family, trust God with my kids or with the outcome of who they are or will be. I can’t trust God with protecting me from me ex. I can’t trust God to keep Scott on the straight and narrow. Why? because every relationship in my life has somehow damaged the trust in a phenomenal way. And even though Scott hasn’t done anything but loved me, it’s has to be only a matter of time. Because I can’t be good enough, right? So I have all these things that feel like they are out of control, and living in constant fear in the back of my mind, so what’s the one thing that I have control over? My body! My weight. Because then I can reaffirm myself again and feel like I have some sense of control over something. I have a broken trust with God because he has allowed me to go through what I went through, and even though I know He has purpose in it, it sucks. Badly. And I wish it would have been different.

    And to top if off my attitude towards people who are heavier is not a good one anymore. I am no longer sympathetic. But then again, my attitude towards pretty women isn’t either. Because I am always in competition with someone. if you are fatter than me, or uglier than me, then I have won: I have my worth. If you are prettier than me, then I’m insecure and need to pick you apart. This isn’t with my friends, I might add. With strangers. Because being unkind somehow reaffirms my worth, even though it makes me completely ugly on the inside. Guess we’re right back there. And I’m so busy building myself up by tearing people down, that I can’t imagine them not judging me as harshly as I’ve judged them. Hafta get them first.

    And on top of that, I have people who are telling me: you look great, great job, how did YOU do it? And for once I feel like I am something. But you know what? I also am terrified of putting a single pound on because then I will have failed them, and I’m not as great as they thought I was. I’m not the inspiration. I’m a loser who wasn’t worth looking up to. In the process I’ve accidentally put myself on the pedistool. Which is weird, because as low as my self esteem apparently is, how do I kick myself down and raise myself up at the same time? At any rate, still I’m trying to be what others want me to be, and still that worth is in my physical appearance.

    Which leads me right back to my worth being in Christ alone, and what that means? And how that applies to me life? Changes my perception of me?

  9. jaime… this is deep and powerful stuff, and just by asking these questions, you are heading on the right journey. can i encourage you to pray this outloud to God? to voice your thoughts to him? and in the meantime, i’m going to be trying to answer these questions each monday at this place…

    i do have a question for you: do you truly believe God loves you? perhaps a part of you hasn’t “forgiven” him for letting you go through so much pain… and next, if you do believe he loves you, do you care more about that than about what people think?

    (if it’s okay with you, i’m also going to share this with constance rhodes, to see if she has anything to add…)

  10. Part of me knows he loves me but the little girl inside of me wonders if he did why did he allow monstrosities to happen to me? It’s reconciling those two people into the truth of Gods word that makes it hard. And when you’ve spent this long caring about what other people think, comforting to fit in, it’s hard to care more about what god thinks of you when you feel like he won’t tell you

  11. my dear jaime… it’s only understandable the little girl you has some anger towards God, for it’s hard to believe one is loved when one’s safe place is snatched away. in order to get back to this ‘safe place’, to make God your refuge, to want his opinion more than man’s, i believe you need to openly confess your wounds to him, ask him why he allowed those things to happen, then ask him for the strength to let him take over your life again: to let go of the control completely, the need for others’ approval, and accept that his approval is enough. this is only the beginning, but it will allow you to start understanding what God-image is all about… until you forgive, and accept him fully back into your life, he cannot give you the spiritual eyesight necessary to understand your true value in him. xo

  12. It’s an odd thing, this opinion of mans. As long as I’m doing thr Lords work I don’t care what other think. We don’t do Santa or the Easter bunny, and people flip. I don’t care. I will honor God with my life. It’s when I feel as though people have rejected ME.

    I guess I do need to confess my anger. It’s so hard to do when I also see his goodness, and protection from much worse things that could have happened, and how he brought me out of that into my new life. It’s weird to feel like a walking contradiction.

  13. Thanks for pointing me to your site via A Deeper Story. What a beautiful community of ladies lifting each other up with this struggle. Body image is such a big problem. My struggle with anorexia started as a child. Like I mentioned over at A Deeper Story it was a control issue for me. I struggled with perfectionism and feeling powerless to control issues going on in my life. Later, I switched from using food to using alcohol until finally got to a place in my life where I was able to handle this control over to the Lord. I blogged a little about this journey several months ago http://eileenknowles.blogspot.com/2010/09/beautiful.html

    Glad to have found you!

  14. Pingback: Saturday Links (4/16/11) | The Screaming Kettle at Home

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