The biggest lesson I’ve learned in recovery so far and am still learning is that recovery is about more than self love. Our perception of ourselves does matter, but where should that perception start? That was my biggest struggle throughout the years, months, days of recovery. I’ve been thinking about it all week especially since I wrote this post.
Deep breath… Sigh. I’ve been thinking about this for months, mulling it over in my head, and wondering how to express it, because I felt like I was going to mess it all up. However, I know that God can use broken vessels like me, and I pray that He might through this post. Please forgive me if it comes off in the wrong way, but I hope that a small portion of it might bless you for God’s glory!
I’ve been praying on almost every run and seeking God’s wisdom on how to write this, because it’s not an easy subject to write on, and I’m sure I’m going to miss something that I might have said that might make this better, but I’m praying that God can use these feeble efforts for Him.
First of all, I don’t want to be judgmental or unkind in the way I write this post, but God has put this on my heart as something that has been so vital to my recovery. It’s a painful lesson I learned and I’m still learning, only by the infinite grace of God. Most importantly, I want to glorify God, not myself in this post. I would like to say that my blog isn’t all about me. Yet, I pray that this might be more about God and His awesome power in saving me through His Son Jesus Christ. I appreciate your grace when the posts do get selfish. I’m thankful that God’s grip on me and work through me is much stronger than my frail grip on Him.
Dear Father, please help me to do this to your glory. Help me to share the love of Jesus, not the selfishness of Emily through this post. In Jesus name, Amen.
Here is the thing I learned in recovery.
Recovery wasn’t ultimately about me. And my problem wasn’t that I didn’t love myself enough. In fact, my biggest problem was that I thought about myself too much in the wrong way. I completely forgot the power of God and His absolutely perfect plan He had for my life. I defined the way I looked at myself by other people, not by my Creator and Father who lovingly designed and planned out my life.
Why do I say this in the midst of people saying that the problem in recovery is just that we don’t love ourselves enough? I think that doesn’t quite delve all the way into the problem. That’s a good question. . . What do people mean when they say, ‘I hate myself. I hate my body.’ Why do we hate our bodies? Is self-love the only problem?
I forgot who and what my actual identity was. Most of my waking hours during my struggles with eating were spent in thinking about myself. I didn’t really think about anybody else very often. I’m sad to say that I didn’t think about the glory of God or glorifying God in my body very much either, even though the whole of His precious Word speaks of glorifying and doing everything for Him. I took upon myself the burden of self which is far heavier than the burden of Christ.
Matthew 11:28-30, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
And it was more than loving myself that was hurting me.
In a hard way Ephesians 5:29 confirmed something that I already knew was true but something that I was so hesitant to affirm. Ephesians 5:29, ‘For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…’
So if nobody ever hated themselves, what was my biggest struggle? Why could I not embrace this person that I was, the body that I had, the personality that I was given, and the purpose that had been laid out for my life?
Man, this was a hard one. It was hard, because I know I didn’t have the right view of who God is and who He created me to be. And I know that I will always be growing in this area, because of Him and His incredible mercy and love.
That was it. It was the right view of myself, but MOST of all God, because I’m created in His image. It’s Him that defines me and my identity, not me that defines me.
Who is my Heavenly Father that I love? These verses below only describe just a portion of how AMAZING God is, and it’s an awesome, yet overwhelming thought to think of how my whole life will be consumed with learning more of Him.
I wanted to share some verses that are just beautiful and just describe just a portion of how indescribably amazing God Almighty is.
God is merciful, faithful, and patient.
2 Peter 3:9 says, ‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’
God is everlasting.
Isaiah 40:28, ‘Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.’
God’s ways are perfect.
Psalm 18:30, ‘This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.’
God is love, the very definition of it.
John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’
God is holy.
1 Peter 1:15, ‘But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,’
God is peace.
Philippians 4:7, ‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
God is so a just God and slow to anger. Wow.
Numbers 14:18-19, ‘‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”’
God does not change.
Malachi 3:6, ‘“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.’
God is righteousness and judgment. He is the perfect balance of judgment and goodness.
Psalm 89:14, ‘Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.’
I could go on forever and ever, but I can’t ever fully describe God, because He’s so beyond my mind. Yet, why would I distrust my God, my Father who is a God like that, whose love reaches to the heavens and to the lowest depths? God is faithful. Does that mean He made a mistake with making me with the body I had and the identity I carried? No. Does that mean that He would have made me lesser of a person because my body didn’t fit the cultural ideals? No. God’s ways are perfect, even when I fail.
God made me in the beginning to love Him, to walk with Him, to be with Him, to love Him. Life wasn’t about me but about the Creator of the Universe. I could love the person I was ultimately because of the GOD whom I served.
Then sin came. Sin destroyed the relationship, because man violated God’s holiness. 1 John 1:5, ‘ This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.’
Romans 1:21 says, ‘Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.’
When man fell into sin, every heart became dark. It was the explanation for the hate, the bitterness, the selfishness that I struggle with and the sin that God enables me to fight every day. There was a reason for wrong in the world. And I can’t point at another person as the reason for the wrong. I know that the reason for the wrong in my life was me. I was sinful. I was deceived by the devil. I was filled with myself, not the incredible love and awe of God. It was because of sin and our separation from God, the best Father, Creator, and God of the whole world.
I’ve wrestled with this. I’ve tested out and read the other self love theories and challenges on the internet, and they just don’t work, because they take me back to myself. They take me back to myself and staring at myself in the mirror instead of looking upwards, looking to the God who created me.
God knew that I was too full of a despair over myself, and He emptied me in such a painful way. Either God is all in all, or He’s nothing to me. God is who I was made for, to walk, to be with, and to stand before Him… It is hard to be emptied, to constantly be reminded that I can’t do anything by myself, but yet I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me. He has conquered every last enemy. He has overcome sin, death, and the devil, and why would I have any reason to fear His plan and His purpose?
I was so often in trouble because I was so incredibly self confident. Why was my life collapsing around me? Because I failed me. I failed me, over and over. By myself, I’m without strength. Romans 5:6-10, ‘For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.’
ED is intense. It doesn’t want to let go of you. It clings on for all its might. It tells you to look deeper into yourself to see what’s wrong with you and how you can fix you. Satan used ED to make me think that I was still condemned by my sin, still condemned by my failures. Yet Romans 8:1 says, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’
I couldn’t fix me. No person could fix me. I love that doctors can care for our physical issues through the ability that God gives them, but spiritual and emotional issues are deeper. I would try to rationalize them, to point the finger at every one else, even all the people around me, but the problem was that I had never really seen who I was in Christ.
That’s the beauty of the gospel. The good news of Christ made me face who I really was. It made me face the real source for my lack of peace. And it brought me to the Divine God, the God-man who could fix everything about me, and give me hope for a new future, not bound by the chains of an eating disorder.
God is CONSTANT. James 1:17, ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’
God doesn’t change, even when I do, but my life doesn’t depend on me, (phew…. ) In a lot of ways, I’m preaching this to myself, because I need to hear these truths constantly, while lies are being battered at my head and heart constantly.
Matthew 18:1-4 says, ‘At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’
This passage is incredible. Jesus’ disciples are all arguing about who is going to be the greatest in His kingdom. Yet Jesus stopped them all, and said that unless they became like a little child, they couldn’t enter the kingdom of heaven.
WOAH. Can you imagine all the disciples just scratching their heads and going, ‘What??!?’ Why would we want to be like a little child?
That’s is the beauty, the simplicity, and the hard truth of the gospel.
I had to be emptied to be filled, to be weakened and helpless, dependent like a little child. God used ED to humble me, to show me how needy I really was, not the self-confident, ‘strong’ girl that I thought I was. And He is still using recovery to do that to me.
Self-love all had to do with the way that I perceived myself. I used to perceive myself in the wrong light. I didn’t perceive myself in the light of God’s perfection, God’s perfect will, God’s perfect plan, God’s perfect beauty, and His promise that He will COMPLETE His good work in me. If God is so perfect, God would not have made a mistake with any part of me. Yes, I do sin. Yes, I do need to repent before the cross everyday, but I am no longer GUILTY because of my sin because of Jesus Christ coming and paying the HUGE ransom for my sin.
It’s all about perception. Who did God make you to be? Are you striving to please men or God? Is God the standard of your love, your identity or are the passing, changing standards of men your standard?
I have to ask myself these questions, about every 10 minutes, because my focus gets so diverted. I was made for God, but I’m a sinner. I fail. I’m weak. I’m not strong enough. Yet GOD is my refuge, my strength, my very present help in trouble. He has worked out EVERYTHING, even the trials out for JOY, for GOOD.
I know that I was made to please, to love, to adore, to worship Him, and to dwell in the light of His glory, looking forward to the day when I can be with Him forever, and it’s not dependent on things I do or whether I fail Him or not. Salvation is not of my works, lest I should boast.
That is the greatest gift of God. It’s free grace, completely free. The faith to believe on this gift is also a gift, and so it’s nothing I’ve done. It is the only TRULY free gift we’ll have in this world. Where is my treasure? Is it here on this earth? Is it with people or is it with God? Too often I get focused on my body, my exercise and just the things I can see. But what makes my life worth living? What makes death less scary? What takes my eyes off my body and puts it back on really living on this earth and into eternity?
Philippians 1:21, ‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. ‘
Matthew 6:19-21, ‘“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’
John 14:1-4, ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.’
We can plead a STRONG name, stronger than ours for deliverance from an eating disorder, stronger than self. We can plead the name that is above all names, the Lord of Lord, the King of Kings.
Psalm 143:11 says, ‘Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.’
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments! (Please keep comments as kind as possible! I would LOVE to hear your thoughts… If you have extended thoughts please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s a marvelous Monday to share your thoughts! Thank you Katie for letting me share these!