Recently, I saw a documentary film that followed women with eating disorders who were in an inpatient treatment facility. It deeply impacted me. I was stunned to discover that 1 in 7 women with anorexia will actually die from the illness.
As I watched these women wrestle with their issues, I could relate on a less intense level: the anxiety over eating certain foods, the compulsion to “undo” whatever was eaten, viewing their body as the enemy, the paradoxical (though false) comfort and security that they felt when they were entrenched in their rituals, the addiction to the cycle and its emotions, the desperate desire to be free, and the fear of giving up control. It became apparent to me that I was rescued LONG before my eating disorder was able to get such a strong hold on me.
When I finished watching the film, my heart cried out to God in a prayer of thanksgiving for my rescue, yet I was utterly devastated for these women. They had been pushed beyond their tipping points. Some didn’t even want to be there, didn’t want to get better. There were other women who desperately wanted to get better, while others systematically sabotaged their own success time and time again. What a sad existence. This might have been me. I am grateful that I didn’t get to a point where I was in the dance of extremes between wanting to recover and sabotaging my recovery. I believe that I stopped short of this stage because I still had a working knowledge that I was a child of God, and still somewhere deep down I had a love and respect for my body. Though it was hidden under the surface, I still wanted to be a good steward of God’s temple: my body. That wasn’t lost…yet. There was still a glimmer of hope for me.
What breaks my heart is that these women had no hope. At the end of the film, none of them had found recovery, and one woman died. Did she know Christ? He sure wasn’t included in the womens’ treatment plans. My sorrow gave way to anger when I saw that these women were given no tangible hope. They had nothing to stand on apart from their own strength which, I can say from experience, is guaranteed to fail. I would still be in bondage today and on the path to the fates of the women in this documentary if it weren’t for my faith.
Is there something in your life that you have tried to overcome on your own? Maybe it’s worry, envy, anger, or selfishness. Or perhaps you struggle with insecurity, depression, anxiety, or addiction. No matter what “stuff” you have—and everyone has some—in Jesus we can overcome it all.
One of my favorite verses of the Bible is John 16:33; Jesus says: In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. Because I have put my faith in Jesus, I share in this victory! Another verse, 1 John 5:4-5, was a lifeline for me: For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world –our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? The world, and every difficult thing that comes with it, CAN be overcome. Wow, I needed that kind of hope in my darkest, bleakest moments. And perhaps you need it today.
Many things in this world promise us healing and hope, but I have found that HOPE is merely a 4-letter word, unless you have Jesus.