Our Bodies, Our Enemies

PastedGraphic-1I recently attended an eating disorder recovery conference. I listened to speakers that shared their success in overcoming addiction, and speakers that bravely got up and shared that they were in the midst of addiction and the everyday struggle.

I learned a lot from their stories, but it was their pain that I left the conference with. What some of these speakers shared brought me to tears. As a food addict who has dealt with it (and not dealt with it) for most of my life, I could understand and empathize with the deep pain of feeling helpless and in bondage to something I couldn’t control.

It occurred to me that some of us have gotten to a point in our eating disorder (Binge Eating, Anorexia, Bulimia, etc.) where our bodies have turned against us and actually become the enemies of our recovery. Physically we are under- or over-nourished, out of shape, diseased, and handicapped. (Some of us are facing certain death if things continue as they are!) This leads to our minds being overrun by an obsession with food – or control of food- and our mental space consumed with our plans surrounding the obsession. Which leads to a very unhealthy emotional state in which we are angry, depressed, frustrated, hopeless, lonely and afraid.

When did our bodies become our enemies? Think about it this way: Would you ever treat someone that you love the way you treat yourself? Would you force them to overstuff, purge, starve, malnourish, over-exercise, isolate, and ultimately hate themselves? Of course not! That sounds like a horrible and inhumane form of torture. Because it IS torture!

At some point – most likely without consciously realizing it – we stopped loving ourselves and began to punish ourselves with these behaviors. Maybe someone told us we would be better off because of it, or maybe we thought it would protect or numb us from pain, or maybe we thought we deserved it. Whatever the reason, at some point along the way we began to believe it was true.

So let’s look at the flip side; how would you treat someone you love who is going through this struggle? Would you lovingly help them understand that they need help? What if we loved ourselves enough to do what it takes to make a positive change in our lives? What if we loved ourselves enough to eat real, nourishing food in moderation, and to get out and move once a day? Do you love yourself enough to stop making excuses? To engage in fellowship with other people and dare to believe you’re loveable? To ask God to be your strength and make you willing to put your health first daily?

We may feel that it’s too much, too scary, too hard or too hopeless to change for the better. But the truth is we are never really “stuck”. Too many people give up before they start because they are overwhelmed by the mountain in front of them. Yes, it’s a big mountain! There’s no denying that. But here’s the thing: you don’t need to climb it all at once. Do you love yourself enough to take just one step today? Do it! That’s one step closer to the top of the mountain. Then take another step tomorrow. Then another.

That’s how you overcome the mountain in front of you; one step at a time, one day at a time. Its not through some massive feat of willpower and strength. Its through the small, consistent strength of taking that next step, of doing that next right thing. God will always give you that strength if you ask Him for it. All you have to do is not stop taking small steps.

Then when you’ve put enough of those steps together you’ll find you will start to love yourself and believe, and your body will become your friend. The “food fog” in your mind will clear. You will want to do things you have always dreamed of. You will find courage, desire and a love for life. And, best of all, the world gets to see you and the amazing person you really are.

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