Haylee’s Story: Breaking the Chains of Anorexia
I have spent a majority of my life submitting to food as my slave master. I don’t really remember a time in which I’ve had a healthy relationship with food. Sure, some seasons have been better than others, but food has rarely felt like one of God’s good gifts to me. I have looked to food for comfort, abstained from food for control, and asked food (or lack thereof) to save me. However, food has never once proven to satisfy the cravings of my soul. Instead of fulfillment, I’ve been crushed under shame after eating too much, have been too weak to stand after skipping meals, and have believed the lie that ridding my body of food would alleviate the pain of self-loathing and feeling unworthy.
For years, this debilitating war raged in silence. Thoughts, lies, and accusations roared loudly inside of my head, but I locked them up and committed this part of me to secrecy – my image would never be marred by an enslavement to food. I convinced myself I was able to independently unlock the chains that bound me, but instead, my own will yielded prolonged suffering under the dominion of a restrictive eating disorder.
However, as the violent war against my body ensued, God sought after me. Gently yet powerfully, He drew me out of hiding. As beams of light slowly exposed the ugly depths of my heart to those around me, my vulnerability was met by the hands of mercy instead of any sort of condemnation. Out of His goodness and love for me, God allowed me to see that the confines of my mind were an elusive safety blanket, but He is, and forever will be, my ultimate covering.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
Coming out of hiding was painful. In His patience, God sat with me as I doubted, wrestled, and held onto what I thought I wanted. My relentless pursuit of control and thinness became an addiction – the high of hunger my drug. Hunger falsely assured me that I had ultimate control over my body and the happenings of my entire life – my religion, friendships, performance, appearance, emotions, and future. Intoxicated by the idea of being my own god, I lived in a state of numbness, tirelessly micromanaging my every minute.
But God didn’t leave me there. He came hard after me.
He knew my hands were tired from the white-knuckle grip I had on my life, so He came. He bent down to gently loosen each one of my fingers, replacing them with His strong, safe hands that hold far more than I can fathom.
During my time as a Redemption Group participant in the fall, I was encouraged to ask for prayer and anointing with oil from our elders regarding healing for my addiction to food restriction, but my own doubt and pride quickly dismissed this as something unworthy of pursuing. It wasn’t until a couple of months later when I began experiencing debilitating headaches that the thought of being anointed with oil for healing resurfaced. After multiple doctor visits, MRIs, and failed remedies to eradicate the pain, I finally decided to follow the exhortation found in James 5:14 to “call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over [me], anointing [me] with oil in the name of the Lord.”
What I hoped would result in a headache-free day to day ended in so much more. In His coming after me, He pursued my heart through my physical body. While I asked for anointing and prayer for my headaches, I also was able to confess the depth of the bondage to my addiction. No matter how deeply I desired for God to be back on His throne in place of the tyrants of starvation and control, my body fought back. As a result of my eating disorder, I forced my body to learn how to function void of proper nutrition, so my brain learned to negatively respond to the idea of food and act of eating. After sharing the reality of the internal battle between my desires and my body, my main prayer for healing became a plea for God to rewire my brain in a way that freed me from the addiction of food restriction.
So we prayed.
We begged God to take away the pain of my headaches. We pleaded for God to rewire the way my brain and body had learned to negatively react to food. I repented from choosing other kings to reign over my life. I thanked God for being the only good, true King.
And He listened.
About three weeks after asking God to do something that I had tried to do on my own for years, He delivered me. One Friday night, while worshipping through song, God showed me a vision. He showed me a picture of my brain, but it had been infiltrated by black, evil claws. The sharp claws tore, twisted, and pierced the entirety of my brain, drastically inhibiting its ability to function in the way it was designed to. As I watched this picture unfold in my head, fear crept in. I felt helpless and afraid as I witnessed something outside of me ravage my body’s control center.
All of a sudden, in the midst of fear and confusion, the claws disappeared. I now looked at a picture of my brain fully restored, free from the damage done by my eating disorder. Next, my Dad whispered, “You’re free — look at Me.”
In a moment’s time, God healed me.
“Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.”
He healed my desires, my body, and my will. Since that night in January, I haven’t run to hunger to save me. My body has desired food instead of resisted it, truly believing that hunger is a mark of dependence on a sovereign God rather than a tool to exercise my own sovereignty. Living in a newfound freedom has allowed me to see more of who God is, compelling me to worship Him who created me, knows me, and healed me.Tags: Healing, Redemption