So often as I sit in church listening to a message I feel it was tailor made for me. Yesterday as I sat listening not only to the message, but the worship I thought about how God always knows what we need. I needed to hear the message yesterday and it was once again a reminder that fear and doubt are from the enemy. Galatians 5:1 tells us: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." It was a vivid reminder of how God set me free from a stronghold.
For many years I struggled with an eating disorder and starved myself in the hope of feeling accepted. I believed thinness was the answer to acceptance. I am sure rejection I felt from family members played a big part in the addiction that placed me on a path to self destruction, but I felt powerless to stop it. At one point I weighed 70 pounds and would look in the mirror and see a "fat Cindie." The enemy had placed a stronghold on my life, but I could not see that all I knew was my thinness would make me accepted.
The definition of stronghold is: a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack. In reality strongholds are a false sense of security. My addiction kept me focused on myself...what I perceived I needed...what was going to make me happy. The number on the scale was my tipping point each and every day and it is what drove my every emotion. If people told me I was too thin I rationalized they were jealous, not that they might be concerned about me. I feared rejection and craved acceptance and in my mind I could only be accepted if I hit a certain number on the scale. The problem was the number was never right...if I set a goal to hit 75 pounds and I hit it, then I thought well, I would look better at 70 pounds.
At the time if someone had asked me I would have said I was a Christian, but in all honesty I did not have a relationship with God. My relationship was with starvation, exercise and the weight scale. I never felt freedom. I didn't enjoy family celebrations, eating out, food in general and missed out on so many moments in life. This battle went on for five years and nothing anyone said or did changed my thinking until a friend came to visit us . I had invited my friend and her husband for dinner and made a lovely meal which they all enjoyed. I ate salad. My sweet friend asked my husband if I was dying when she first came in and he told her I wasn't but was not eating very much. We sat around the table talking and catching up and she took a few pictures.
A few weeks later an envelope arrived in the mail and in it was a 8x10 black and white picture. It was a close up picture of me my friend had taken. I looked at the picture and barely recognized myself. In all honesty it was the first time I thought if I keep this up I will die. I didn't know how I could overcome it though and in wasn't sure I really wanted to. I loved my husband and my children, but there were painful memories I hadn't dealt with that I knew were at the root of this addiction, but I wasn't sure I had the strength to face them.
A friend invited me to church with her and as I sat and listened to the sermon on that Sunday morning I knew without a shadow of a doubt I needed to enlist God's help. I couldn't fight this beast disguised as anorexia on my own, I needed to invite God in. The Pastor preached from 2 Corinthians 10 and all I remembered that day was that I needed to take every thought captive. Thus began my journey of battling the beast with God's help. I had allowed the lie that "you will not be rejected if you are thin" to take up residence in my head and now I had to replace that lie with God's truth. The lie had become my truth and now it was time to defeat it.
It was a battle...eating was not enjoyable for a long time...the number on the scale it was hard to watch it rise...and often I could not eat without gut disturbances. It was two years before I reached a healthy weight and it was not an easy battle, but God delivered me and it changed my relationship with Him. It taught me to trust Him...to believe who He says I am and to know without a shadow of a doubt He will never reject me. In HIs eyes I am accepted, I am loved, and He is faithful.
There are times when I'll admit I still fear rejection...want to be liked...want to be appreciated...but I don't focus on those insecurities any longer because I am enough in the eyes of the One who created me and does not make mistakes. He is good and He is faithful and in Joshua 1:9 He tells us: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." I can boast about what He has done as I walk in trust and obedience.