Nearly two decades ago, I spent several months in and out of hospitals due to anorexia. I was hauled off by ambulance from my workplace, only to be released hours later after I was re-hydrated via IV. Days later, I crawled across my living room floor to get to the phone to call a taxi – yes, a taxi – to take me to the emergency room of another hospital. When the hospital prepared to release me, I refused. I knew I could not stop starving myself. And though my weight was higher than many anorectics, it was low enough for me that I could not function physically, emotionally, and certainly not spiritually. To top it all off, my spiritual life was a mess beyond measure. I did not know Jesus Christ. I prayed to a generic God and got the accompanying results. Disaster.
The hospital told me I could stay in the psychiatric ward provided I voluntarily walked myself into it. I will never forget standing in the elevator in a hospital robe, paper slippers, with my Ivy League education, and having the gall to check out a guy in the elevator as though he might be interested in me. A week in the psychiatric ward was not enough. It was but a beginning.
Days after my discharge, I took a train with my suitcase to an eating disorders unit of a hospital for 5 or 6 weeks. I was weighed daily, my food was recorded, I went to the bathroom in stalls without doors, I attended constant counseling and group therapy sessions, and I was suffice it to say forced to gain enough weight that I would be released. I then signed a written vow that I would go back into a hospital if I ever went below the weight I was told was most appropriate for me. I cannot describe in human words the depths of my desperation during that season of my life. Though I did not yet know Jesus Christ, I did cry out to God in heaven that He would save my life, that He would help me, that He would get me out of the mess I had made.
I hated being lightheaded, I was scared to death, I had anxiety and depression beyond description, I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder resulting from major childhood trauma, and the list goes on. The flashbacks I had from my childhood were horrific, I often lost the sense of my age, and I was constantly thrust back via nightmares and flashbacks to a period in my life I could not fathom re-living – not even in memory. Do you know what God did? He bailed me out. He sent me help, He put the weight back on my body, and He delivered me from hell.
Nearly 20 years later, as I stepped on the scale, I was 17 pounds less than the amount written in the vow I took at the hospital. I had dug myself a hole deeper with the eating disorder than I had ever been in before. But this time was different. Very, very different. This time, I know Jesus Christ. This time, He lives inside me.
And this time, I confess, I know better. See, back then, I wanted deliverance because I couldn’t handle the consequences of my “problem” – i.e. the eating disorder. I knew nothing about sin, and I did not know I needed repentance. I did not know what I was doing to the me God had created.
But now I do. And I wish I could say this is the first time in all these years that I have gone back to Egypt. But it is not. I have spent all of these years on and off since going in and out of Egypt. I have repented – at times. And then I have gone back into rebellion. I have openly defied the Lord. I am well aware that my body is a temple of His Holy Spirit, and yet I have bowed down to Satan in this area rather than to the Lord.
Do you know what I keep telling people. “This is the only area of my life where I am not obeying the Lord.” Do you know why I say this? Because I feel I can justify this “one small” problem by saying I am in obedience – or at least trying to be – throughout the rest of my life.
Do you think God is okay with my sin just because I am doing better in other areas of my life? I doubt it. I cannot even say I am trying. Not really. Barely at all, anyway.
Do you know what must be so terribly sad to the Lord? I believe the Lord must be sad when He sees His children suffer at their own hands, when He watches them miss His best because they won’t let go of what they are holding onto, when they love themselves in their actions and words more than they love Him, when they hurt those around them with their sins but pretend or think that they are not, and when they are more concerned with the consequences of their sin (i.e. how it hurts themselves) than with the fact they are rebelling against Him as they willfully continue in their sin.
I am quite sure all those years ago that I would not have put the weight back on my body if I had not been suffering so much from the eating disorder. Sadly, almost two decades later, I have been continuing in my sin as I have not “visibly seen” the dire consequences I experienced before. But this is such a lie from the pit of hell.
My energy is low, my focus is poor, I am distracted, I am not living God’s best for my life, and I am laying a burden on those that love me. But these are merely consequences that affect me and that affect those closest to me. So what about God? What about the Lord whom I love beyond measure who is watching His daughter continue on her merry way.
Do you know the most powerful two things I have ever witnessed or heard regarding this eating disorder? The first was when I went with a loved one years ago to pick up his father’s ashes from the funeral home. I thought to myself, “All this work I’ve done to starve my body, and I am going to end up as a pile of ashes anyway.” It really struck me how absurd my eating disorder was at the time – and still is.
But nothing compares with the words my mother spoke to me in the past year or so, my dear mother who has had to bear the burden of watching her daughter struggle with this for so long.
“My ancestors died in the concentration camps in Holocaust Germany, and now I have to watch my daughter do this to herself,” she said. Just last week, I saw a photo of a starving person in a concentration camp. The person’s ribs protruded from the person’s body. And do you know what I thought? How often have I stared in the mirror recently to see which bones protrude from me, and how often have I run my hands over my body to see which bones are sticking out? And do you know something? I actually felt I had “succeeded” when my bones stuck out. I thought, “at last I have succeed at something.”
After all is said and done, the truth is I want to obey the Lord. I do not want to carry this “weight” of sin anymore. I want to let go of the rebellion. I want to be free. But I feel I am too far gone, too immersed, to get free on my own. I know nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ will wash me from my sin, and nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit will allow me the freedom in Christ I am entitled to. I ask for your prayers, I ask for your faith, and I ask for your encouragement.
Few, if any, people in full-time ministry like I am talk “publicly” about things like I have here. But do you know something? I am a living testimony. I am an open book. I am transparent not only for God’s light and love to shine on me and for Him to lead me back into His freedom, but I confess this publicly for you, too.
Something deep in my heart tells me even as you read this, the Lord is convicting you of the places in your own life that you have refused to yield to the Lord. Surely I am not alone in going back to Egypt. And surely I am not alone in trying to justify my open rebellion. And surely I am not alone in loving the Lord so much that this time around I do not merely want to be free to get rid of the consequences of my sin. Surely I am not alone in not only wanting to be free so I can live God’s best for my life.
Surely there is someone out there who wants what I want more than anything else – to please my Father in heaven, and to be a vessel that He can pour Himself through to touch and transform a world in need.
Oh dear Father, my dear, beloved Father, how sorry I am for hurting your heart. How sorry I am for rejecting your blessings. How sorry I am for not receiving your best, for not living your best, for walking in open rebellion. How sorry I am for justifying my sin. It is sin. You told me this is sin. You showed me this is sin. You told me years ago I was grieving your Holy Spirit. I don’t want to hold onto this anymore. I want to let go. But Lord, I know I will need your strength to do this. I hate the idea of gaining weight. I hate the idea of eating more. I hate the idea of having to make the necessary changes. But Lord, I hate my sin more than I hate any of this. And I love you more than myself, and more than anyone or anything on this earth. Please, dear Lord in the name of Jesus Christ, deliver me and set me free. I cannot live this way anymore. I do not want this to be a confession whereby I walk away and forget my confession. I do not want a one-day deliverance. Even if it takes time to get there, I want to move out of Egypt and go into the Promised Land where you wanted me all along. Lord God, if anyone is reading this prayer and needs to make their own confession, please give them the strength to confess, the strength to repent, and the strength to walk in your Ways. Please deliver them, heal them, save them most importantly, and teach them to live a life of freedom. May you get every ounce of glory for your answer to this prayer. I love you, dear Lord. Forever. In Jesus name. Amen.
1Co 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
1Co 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”