I struggle with binge eating.
And I have my whole life.
All through my childhood, high school and early college, I was active enough that I never really saw the effects of binging, so it was never on my radar. Honestly, it’s shown up in different degrees and intensities throughout my life. The September of 2019 is when it hit the hardest: I was struggling with depression, anxiety and isolation. At first, I was running miles and miles every day to release the disruptive emotions I was experiencing, to cope, to survive. After I sustained a foot injury, I turned to binge eating as my primary coping mechanism and that’s how I coped for a long time (like….well over a year).
My experience with binge eating is marked by lots of things: sneaking food, overeating ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ things (anything can be unhealthy in great amounts), saying “I’ll do better tomorrow” every day and giving myself excuses to eat more “this last time,” and shame — crippling, paralyzing shame. The shame triggered more disappointment and uncomfortable emotions, which triggered continued binging. It’s a vicious, brutal cycle, as anyone who struggles with this knows.
Today someone asked me, “As a Christian, how did you deal with the temptation of food and the struggle of binging?”
In that moment I was reminded of the desperate prayers I prayed in February of 2020 asking God to help me change my relationship with food. “God, please help change my perception of food. Help me see it as fuel for my body rather than as something in which I can overindulge.” I remember also feeling a nudge from the Spirit, “And God, help me grow to love myself the way that I am right now, that I would not be more worthy of love if I were in better shape or if I had a better relationship with food. Help me train to strengthen the body you gave me rather than for the hopes of ‘looking better.’ I am loved by you and I am worth being loved right now, just as I am.”
In our conversation today, I realized that the answer to my first prayer didn’t show up until after the Lord answered my second prayer, the one I prayed almost nonchalantly, the one I cared about less, the one He cared about the most. He addressed the heart problem: He addressed the fact that I wasn’t loving myself or my body well. Only after I started surrendering my self-loathing to the Lord did answer to the first prayer come along later.
Thankfully, God cares far more about my heart than anything. In the past, it didn’t matter how athletic I was: it was never good enough and I was never good enough. Now, my heart has undergone (and is still experiencing) a transformation that has resulted in a better understanding of my self-worth. The opportunity to pursue bodybuilding arose after I was at a place of greater contentment with and love of my body, with the way I was. I can genuinely say that I wanted to grow stronger and that any physical changes were a byproduct of the strength I was gaining.
I share this to encourage anyone who may be struggling with something similar: the Lord deeply cares about your heart and about your ability to love yourself. Even in the moments when it doesn’t feel like prayers are being answered, He’s working and moving. He’s loving you better than you could ever love yourself.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need to talk about anything you may be struggling with.
1 Thess. 2:2
"...but with the help of our God we dared to tell His gospel in the face of strong opposition."